How to Build the Ultimate Playbook for Sales: 15 Chapters

  • Sales
posted on 19 October 2020
A dark blue book with a light blue front cover with the title: Ultimate Sales Playbook. There is a dark blue pen that has just finished writing the title.

Playbook for Sales Summary

You may be asking yourself: “What is a playbook for sales and why do I need one?” In a nutshell, sales playbook templates contain easy-to-understand, practical advice to guide your entire team through each step of the selling process, providing them with comprehensive best-practices that lead to consistently great results. In this article, I will be going through the 15 key chapters that your winning sales playbook should contain.

  1. Introduction
  2. Value Proposition
  3. Your Market
  4. Your Customers
  5. Your Competition
  6. Targets and KPIs
  7. Sales Strategy
  8. Lead Generation
  9. Sales Process
  10. Onboarding New Customers
  11. Customer Success
  12. Ideal Customer Dialogue
  13. CRM and Sales Tools
  14. Smart Sales Hacks
  15. Content and Templates

1. Introduction

Introductions are important: they set the tone for the entire rest of your relationship. The introduction of your sales playbook template is the one chance you have to make a great first impression: if you get it right, your reader will be hooked; if you get it wrong, you may have lost them for good. 

For this reason, a great playbook for sales begins with a strong, passionate, inspiring introduction. Firstly, it should introduce the reader to both the company and the sales organization itself, and secondly, it should make sure the reader is hooked from the get-go.

2. Value Proposition

Your sales playbook template needs to include more than just the main products you sell and their USPs. In other words, you need to make sure your readers understand the actual value and impact you create for your customer.

This value lies in both reducing or eliminating problems and at the same time, showing the improvements you bring with your solution; together, they represent the total value of what you bring to the table.

3. Your Market

When you communicate the specific market you operate in, you are positioning your company: it impacts how new business is generated, how leads and opportunities are qualified and managed, and how your competition is viewed. This in turn affects how your sales team views your company, and how they represent it to the outside world.

It is therefore incredibly important that your sales playbook template includes robust information about the market you operate in. This can be broadly split into market insights and market trends.

4. Your Customers

“Show me your friends and I can tell you who you are, show me your customers and I can tell you what company you are.”

A man in a white shirt and black tie, holding a wooden circle with an image of three people on it. There is also another wooden circle to the left with a location symbol and two wooden circles to the right, one with a phone symbol and the other with a letter symbol.

You are defined by your customers. This is true of your company in general, and your sales organization in particular. Knowing who they are, how they think, and how they operate is absolutely pivotal to successful sales. And in order to be truly effective, your sales playbook needs to reflect this. 

Of course, there are many complex elements and aspects of your customers, and offering easy-to-understand, actionable insights into them requires very clear thinking and a thorough process. In order to understand your customer, you need to break them down into key segments. Our guide provides you with the six key parts we think you should include that will help simplify your customer.

5. Your Competition

Competition is important: if you don’t know your customer’s alternatives, you will always be one step behind. To be willing to buy from you, your customer must accept that they have a problem which is big enough to invest in, and they must believe that your approach is the best way to solve it. 

In order for you to make a sale, your customer must also be convinced that your solution is better than other, similar ones. Understanding your competition will help your sales team make this happen: it will help them strategize more effectively, and position your product or service intelligently to create a competitive advantage. Your playbook for sales, therefore, should include plenty of information about both your direct and indirect competition.

6. Targets and KPIs

Performance must be measured: any good sales team knows this. But what specific metrics you use, and what kind of targets you set, both seriously affect the outcomes you get. Individuals need to understand exactly what is expected and what they need to focus on; teams need to have a goal to pursue beyond their individual efforts.

Your sales playbook template is the perfect place to put this information so that no one is ever uncertain as to what they are being measured on or what they need to achieve. You should separate these into two sections: targets and KPIs.

7. Sales Strategy

Sharing sales strategies in your sales playbook will give your salespeople continual access to this level of sales success, and provide a reference point when they’re in the field. A couple of examples of the kinds of sales strategy you can include are Land and expand and Piggy Back Riding.

8. Lead Generation

Lead generation is crucial to any sales team: it is new business that ensures a business’s growth, compensates for customer churn, and justifies the existence of the sales organization. It is vital to determine where leads come from and how to properly manage them: the quality of this process will directly affect the chance of converting the lead into a real business opportunity. And your sales playbook needs to reflect this. It should describe the entire lead generating process, providing the best practices on how to engage with leads; how to qualify them; and how to convert them.

9. Sales Process

Process is the backbone of any sales organization. Organizations that have not clearly defined their process will always lack control of the opportunities their salespeople are managing. If salespeople don’t know exactly where they are going or what to do, most customers take back full control of their buying process, leaving your sales team out of the loop. Sales should be a game of control, not a guessing game.

Your playbook for sales, therefore, needs to include a clear, easy-to-understand breakdown of the full sales process; for some organizations, this will involve officially outlining and designing their process for the very first time. When you are designing your sales process, you need to ensure three things: your process aligns with and empowers the customer’s buying journey, it is balanced and gives weight to every part of the process, and it increases the chance of sales and helps your team’s performance improve.

10. Onboarding New Customers

Salespeople celebrate when the deal is done; customers however start celebrating when implementation is completed or the product/service is delivered. Between these two instances is the all-important onboarding process. This is absolutely pivotal for forming a strong, long-lasting relationship with the customer. 

The ultimate goal is for you to make active ambassadors out of your customers. How you onboard new customers will shape their perception of your company. Therefore a proper onboarding is crucial to make sure trust and a positive expectation is well maintained. 

Your sales playbook template should cover the steps for properly onboarding new customers, to ensure the sales executive and the customer success manager are in sync, and each new customer experiences seamless and smooth handling of the product or service that is signed for. Our tactical sales playbook example guide outlines what you need to cover in terms of onboarding new customers.

11. Customer Success

A man touching a lit-up tick on a screen that has three faces on it: a smiling face, straight face, and a sad face. The happy face has five stars below it, the straight face has three stars below it, and the sad face has one star below it. There is also a quote on the image that says: A satisfied customer is the best strategy of all. This quote is written by Michael Leboeuf.

You can call it farming, relationship management, or success management: the essence remains the same. Customer Success involves keeping and growing your accounts with dedicated focus and attention. Your playbook should therefore cover some of the basics of customer success so that the playbook is not only meant for your new business team but also the customer success managers. There are a number of customer success elements that you’ll find in our guide that should be covered in your playbook for sales.

12. Ideal Customer Dialogue

This should be one of the most exciting and popular parts of your sales playbook. Even though salespeople like the freedom to choose how they talk to customers, a framework is always appreciated to provide structure and reliable fallbacks: they can use this as a guideline; it helps them to stay sharp.

Your dialogue framework should include examples for every aspect of customer interaction, including the ultimate pitch, the ultimate sales call, the ultimate sales meeting, handling objections, and more.

13. CRM and Sales Tools

Sales tools are hot: new sales tools are introduced to the market all the time, to help sales teams close better deals in shorter periods of time. According to Smart Selling Tools’ 2019 SalesTech Benchmark Survey, on average B2B sales teams are now using 4.9 Sales tools – a big jump from 4.2 last year! The fact is today, sales without proper tools can’t succeed over time. And this means your team needs to know how to use the tools as best they can. Sales playbooks should explain exactly what tools your team has; provide them with best practices; explain how to integrate them into their workflow, and make clear what is optional and what is mandatory. 

The most important tool of any B2B sales organization is CRM: it is the main machine that your sales team is running on. However, many teams are not using CRM to its full potential due to deficiencies in the human side of implementation. Defining and implementing CRM best practices helps to increase adoption and show what value it can bring to your sales department.

14. Smart Sales Hacks

Sales hacking means finding innovative and smart ways to use the tools and techniques at your disposal to find potential deals faster and close more and bigger deals in a shorter period of time. 

Now, this all sounds very nice, but it is easier said than done. Smart sales hacks are only smart if they are unique to your team: if your competitors are using them too, you are merely keeping up. Therefore your sales hacks need to be specific to your team, your market, and your customers; they need to be founded on your best sellers’ experience in the field and they need to be constantly updated to make sure they stay fresh.

15. Content and Templates

Most B2B sales teams have access to content, some even great content. Your playbook for sales should cover what content and templates are available and mostly how to use it to maximize impact. Especially if you have great content, you can use it to increase conversion and elevate the opportunity to a whole new level. If you use the content or templates in the wrong way, it may lose its impact. Implemented wisely this can become sales improvement at scale.

So, there you have it. If you have come this far, you have everything you need to create the Ultimate Playbook for Sales that your sales team will
love.

Access our 73-page Sales Playbook to look at these chapters in more depth, or schedule a call with us if you have any questions.