Because every business is different, sales teams need playbooks that are tailored to their technology, customer base, product offering, and unique value proposition.
In this article, we share steps to creating a bespoke sales playbook that fits the needs of your business.
Why are sales playbooks important?
You might be asking yourself, "What is the purpose of a sales playbook?" A sales playbook replaces guesswork with reliable and detailed guidance — guidance that helps your sales reps make decisions that land more customers. If all your salespeople are empowered with the right sales playbook, the logic goes, then you will see a huge improvement in sales performance.
While all playbooks contain information about sale plays, sequences, and sales enablement technology, every business is different. The ideal sales processes for one business may not work for another. The challenge, then, is in writing a sales playbook tailored to your unique circumstance. But that's easier said than done. After all, companies are experts at what they do. Writing sales playbooks usually isn't one of them.
What makes a good sales playbook?
Wondering what should be in a sales playbook? A good sales playbook should have the following key components:
Clear organisation: The playbook should be organised clearly and concisely, making it easy for sales reps to find the information they need quickly.
Sales enablement materials: The playbook should include sales enablement materials, such as talking points for sales calls, discovery call questions, KPIs, buyer personas, sales process details, and more.
Best practices: The playbook should include the best practices your sales team has built up, and steer reps away from common pitfalls.
Product knowledge: The playbook should give reps an understanding of what customers can do with the product, including the basics they need to explain what the product offers and to confidently answer customer questions.
Sales plays: The playbook should comprise of many different sales plays and sales kits to support specific scenarios, guiding sellers through the entire selling process from prospecting to pitching.
Feedback loop: Once your sales playbook has been shared and used by reps, keep tabs on its relevance, success, and helpfulness. Ask reps for their opinions on the playbook and its usefulness, and conduct surveys to get feedback on the playbook. This way you can effectively update and edit the playbook.
How to write a sales playbook tailored to your business in 3 steps
So, how do you build a playbook tailored to your business so your sales teams have the exact tools they need to drive results? The important thing is to work as strategically and meticulously as possible before, during, and after you write your sales playbook.
Let's explore each step in turn, starting at the beginning of the playbook writing process.
1. Before you write a sales playbook: pull in the right stakeholders and map everything
As is common with most organisations, teams operate from a set of processes that they've built over time — often much of it isn't written down. This can be dangerous. For instance, if your sales lead moves on to another company, then they might be taking their knowledge with them. Your sales reps also work with customer service, marketing, and other departments. So vital information could be held by people outside of the sales team.
This is why it is crucial to bring the right stakeholders into the project before you begin writing your sales playbook. Once you've brought the right people to the table, you need to map out every single sales process. This is complex work, as deals involve different buying stages and multiple sales sequences.
Defining your sales stack — the collection of tools that empower your sales team — is of equal importance. As a resource for onboarding new sales reps, your sales playbook should be a guide to using your key sales technology. Once all processes and sales enablement tools have been mapped out, it's time to pull up your sleeves and get to writing.
2. While you write a sales playbook: focus on structure and process improvements
Immanuel Kant's The Critique of Pure Reason is one of the all-time most important works of European philosophy. Despite its significance, few philosophy professors have bothered to read it. That's how challenging it is to get through.
Here's the takeaway: for a sales playbook to be useful, it needs to be structured and written in a way that makes it easy to understand and reference. This means adding context to help readers understand details, such as providing insights into what actions are needed, and where, how, and when actions are executed.
It also means structuring your playbook so that it is easy to find information. This is because most reps who revisit your sales playbook only care about information that is useful at that moment.
At this point, and having already mapped out all your sales processes and technology, you should identify gaps, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. It's critical to develop a sense of what works and what doesn't. This will help you recognise opportunities, build new processes, and tailor sales plays according to your offering and customer base.
3. After you write a sales playbook: onboard, measure success, experiment, and update
To drive success, your sales playbook should be viewed as an agile document that is updated to better address changes to sales technology, service offerings, and customer expectations. For this reason, you're never really finished writing your sales playbook.
In the previous step, you would have refined your processes and consolidated your sales stack. Now you need to train your reps to use your playbook. This can be tricky, especially if sales teams are used to following their processes.
Once your teams are aligned, it's time to focus on optimising your selling. So track all performance and measure which sales sequences and plays work best. As your team recognises opportunities, experimenting with new sales strategies and tactics is critical to continually improving your sales strategies. Draw conclusions from the results of every experiment and, when you have enough data, update your sales playbook to reflect your new ways of selling.
What are the benefits of a sales playbook?
Here are some benefits of having a sales playbook:
Accelerate the sales process: A sales playbook provides sales resources at a seller’s fingertips, which can help accelerate the sales process by providing clear and defined steps.
Add consistency to the sales process: The steps are clearly defined and outlined in a sales playbook, which adds consistency to the sales process.
Increase productivity and efficiency: A sales playbook can increase the productivity and efficiency of your sales team by providing them with the necessary resources and information they need to sell effectively.
Reduce ramp-up time: A sales playbook can help reduce ramp-up time for new sales reps by providing them with a clear understanding of the sales process and best practices.
Improve sales results: A sales playbook can improve sales results by providing reps with the best practices and tactics that have been proven to be effective.
Provide a feedback loop: A sales playbook can be updated and edited based on feedback from sales reps, which can help improve its relevance, success, and helpfulness.
Unify the sales team: A sales playbook can help unify the sales team by providing a single source of knowledge for everyone involved.
Save time: A sales playbook can save time for sales reps by providing them with ready-made content, such as sales enablement materials, sales scripts, guides, and buyer personas.
Simplify launching new products: A sales playbook can help simplify the process of launching new products by providing reps with the necessary information and resources they need to sell the new product effectively.
Are sales playbooks the same as HubSpot Playbooks?
As mentioned above, HubSpot offers sales playbook software which you can use to store your business' methodologies and rules in guides within the HubSpot CRM. This means sales reps can quickly refer to key information when needed to check which questions to ask, which benefits to highlight per customer type, or how to get the most from relevant HubSpot Sales Hub features.
It’s important to note that creating the type of tailored sales playbook we’re referring to in this article is not the same as HubSpot Playbooks. However, certain processes documented in your company’s sales playbook could be built into HubSpot playbooks to enable your sales reps to quickly access the information they might need at different stages of the sales process.
Should you hire a sales consultancy to build your sales playbook?
From the process we’ve laid out, it’s clear that creating a tailored sales playbook requires a staggering amount of time and work. This can drain internal resources, especially if a team member is taken away from important work to create your playbook. Another challenge: your writer may lack experience in developing or structuring playbooks. This can either prolong the project or, in a worst-case scenario, lead to an incoherent playbook that’s more likely to confuse reps than guide them.
Considering these risks, it might be worth hiring an external sales consultancy with a proven track record of creating tailored sales playbooks and improving sales processes. The right consultancy can also help you see a fast return on investment by training your teams and maximising your technology use.
We’d welcome the opportunity to learn more about your sales team and help you create a bespoke sales playbook for your business. Schedule a meeting with a Huble Sales Consultant to learn more about how we can help improve your sales results.
10 essential HubSpot workflows (You should implement today)