The Definitive Guide to Developing a Sales Playbook

As a sales enablement leader, you are used to dealing with budget constraints while at the same time trying to stay in good favor with your sales and marketing teams. You constantly worry about being able to train your sales reps properly. A Sales Playbook is a low-cost, high-return investment that you can make in your sales team. Read on to find out if a Sales Playbook is right for you.

The job of a sales enablement leader continues to get more and more difficult. You are constantly expected to do more with less and have the added job of making Sales and Marketing play nice with each other.

You’re probably asking yourself, “What will they ask me to do next?” Well, I have good news for you, instead of waiting for Sales and Marketing to give you their next idea, propose one of your own.

What if there was something that both Sales and Marketing would love and benefit from? That something is a Sales Playbook. In this blog, we will walk you through how you can put one in place in your organization.

So you’re interested, but you’re still probably asking yourself:

  • What is a Sales Playbook?
  • When do I use a Sales Playbook?
  • Why do I need a Sales Playbook? 

This blog will provide you the answers to these questions. Once you determine if a Sales Playbook is right for your organization (Hint: it almost certainly is) then you can use our Guide to Building a Sales Playbook to help you get started.

By using this tool, you will get a step by step process on how to build a Sales Playbook.  While you’re there, do yourself a favor and carve out 10 minutes in your schedule to answer the questions in the Sales Enablement phase of the “How to Make Your Number in 2020” Workbook

What Is a Sales Playbook?

Simply put, a Sales Playbook is the marrying of your sales process, buyer personas, sales plays, and additional content and tools. An effective Sales Playbook enables your sales team to sell more effectively, accurately position against competitors, and intelligently communicate the value proposition to every buyer persona.

An Effective Sales Playbook Should Always:

  • Define your buyer’s journey via your sales process
  • Define and describe the buyer personas you deal with
  • Define and map sales plays to buyer personas and your sales process
  • Diagram the buyer engagement experience
  • Package additional sales and marketing content in a way that makes it easy for reps to utilize during selling activities 

The foundation of any effective Sales Playbook is a custom Sales Process.  If the sales process is the foundation, the remainder of the content is the structure.  You can’t have one without the other.

When Do I Use a Sales Playbook?

Identifying when to use a Sales Playbook is the easy part.  You can use events such as:

  • New Field Initiative: This could be a new market opportunity.  You may have introduced a new sales channel.  Or maybe an acquisition of a new company.  The important thing is that you recognize a change in your selling behavior. 
  • New Product Launch: This is self-explanatory.  If you are selling to a new buyer, this is a perfect time to introduce a playbook.  Remember a playbook is just a plan on how to execute on a buyer and sales process. Many sales organizations have a Sales Playbook for each of their main product lines. 
  • New Sales Process: Many sales organizations are recognizing the merits of implementing a custom sales process.  By doing this, they are ridding themselves of the “canned” sales processes of the early 2000s. Again, this is a perfect time to put a new tool in the sales team’s bag.  A Sales Playbook will drive adoption of the new process. 
  • New Hires: A playbook doesn’t need to be a broad-brushed tool for the entire org.  It can be a tool for a specific product, buyer persona, or rep type.  A playbook specific to a new hire will dramatically improve their ramp time, enabling them to drive revenue more quickly.  This is a great audience to launch a playbook with since adoption will be high. 

Why Do I Need a Sales Playbook?

Regardless of the initiative that’s driving the need for a Sales Playbook, the demand is there.  Don’t allow your sales team to get lost on the journey.  When you are driving somewhere you have never been before, you get the address and type it into your phone. Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze then tells you how to get there. You still need to properly follow the directions, but the navigation apps are guiding the way. A Sales Playbook is Google Maps for your reps. They still need to have all the competencies that make up a great sales rep, but the playbook helps them understand the best tactics to use when to use them, and with which personas.

Remember, you can have multiple Sales Playbooks. Different products have different buyers who have different problems that need solving. Click here to see if now is the time to refresh your buyer personas.

A football coach would not run the same plays in the same order against different opponents.  They would tailor the playbook to the defense and likelihood of success.  The same applies here.  You adapt your playbook to the buyer or market you are selling to.

You have now determined what a playbook is, when to use it and why you need it.  Click here to learn how to build one.  Sales Enablement leaders need to provide the tools for sales teams to be successful.  Sales Playbooks are an effective way of doing that.


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