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Sales

11 Steps to Creating a Winning Sales Playbook

It’s been a tough year in sales. All the key metrics are heading in the wrong direction, like generating leads, win rates, and sales cycles. As a result, demand has slowed, buyers are way more educated, and they don’t want to speak with sellers. VCs and corporates focus on profitability vs growth. In addition, SaaS has crashed, and there’s a global recession. 

The mandate for sales teams is to get even more creative and do more with less. Still, adjusting to the new game through sales training, deal coaching, and, more importantly, continuous reinforcement of the right skills, behaviors, and best practices is possible. 

A well-crafted sales playbook is a key tool for improving sales execution.

It distills best sales practices based on data and helps salespeople have conversations and close deals with clear guides and guardrails. This reinforces the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviors to improve the KPIs. 

Sales best practices can cover various topics, like:

  • Structuring discovery calls.
  • The art of asking first, second and third-line discovery questions to elicit pain and impact.
  • Multi-threading.
  • Messaging the value proposition.
  • Problem-centric versus value-based approaches.
  • Delivering impactful demos.
  • Using a story arch to paint a vision, build pain, and propose solutions.

The list goes on. Regardless of the tactics used, the goal is the same — to increase the likelihood of achieving the exit criteria for each sales stage. The faster the deals convert to the next stage, the less time in stage, the faster the deal velocity. That’s the imperative of a sales playbook.

If you want to create a killer sales playbook, follow these 11 steps

  1. Start with Why 

The company’s why and your team’s personal why. It ensures everyone works towards the same goals and that the motivations are defined and agreed upon. 

  • Making B2B Sales Easier

We understand that B2B sales is becoming increasingly complex, and our team needs to hit targets. However, we can improve win rates and target attainment by creating a sales playbook that distils best practices and guides the seller to achieve the in-stage exit criteria.

  • The Need To Scale 

To create repeatability and improve win and growth rates, we need to align to an effective sales process, method, and message.

  • Managing Change

We are transitioning the sales team from transactional to strategic sellers and need to reinforce this approach. By implementing a sales playbook, we can ensure everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals at the required level.

  • Implementing a New GTM 

All sales team members must be on the same page and execute the strategy consistently. We can ensure successful implementation by providing clear frameworks and guardrails.

  • Reinforcing Sales Training

Research shows that 84% of sales training is forgotten after 90 days, and 87% of newly acquired skills are lost within a month. A sales playbook provides consistent reinforcement and ongoing training to ensure teams effectively retain and apply their learnings.

  1. Make It Revenue & Outcome-Focused

Improving sales effectiveness is about defining the KPIs that matter. Touch to Prospect MQL, MQL to SAL, and Win Rate (qualified opportunity with a proposal to commit) are some of the key metrics to track. To connect these KPIs to your pipeline, your playbook should be focused on improving the outcomes that impact these data points and the moments that matter. For example, if the conversion between MQL to SQL is dropping, include new ways to ask questions that diagnose and uncover pain faster, and monitor the impact of the change. 

  1. Make it Easy for the Seller

Involving the seller in the process is crucial for success. Ask them what they want. This could be a simple checklist or a quick way to prepare for meetings. You can also develop talk tracks for value propositions or sales qualification methods that sellers can display in their workspace for easy access. Whatever it takes, prioritize seller buy-in and adoption to ensure success. 

  1. Organize the Content for Easy Understanding 

One effective way to structure a sales process playbook is to use the “do, know, show, and say” method. This approach guides sellers through each stage and is easy to follow: 

DO — Specific actions that sellers need to take before, during, and after meetings. 

For example:

  •  Show interest in the prospect
  • Establish why the solution is needed now
  • Address pain points
  • Identify critical events 
  • Follow up within 10 minutes

KNOW — Training content and other resources to equip sellers with the necessary knowledge.

For example:

  • Information about the ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • Identifying gaps in the sales process
  • Competitor differentiation
  • Pricing structure
  • Customer stories by impact type

SAY — Guidance on how to have effective customer conversations.

For example:

  • Value proposition for different ICPs
  • Impact demonstration talk track
  • Gaining access to the C-suite
  • Positioning pricing
  • MAP positioning

SHOW — Customer-facing assets and collateral to support sales conversations.

For example:

  • Best practice proposal structure
  • Mutual action plan
  • Whiteboard diagrams
  • Social proof videos
  • Custom demo videos

This structure, when combined with the 5Ps Framework, provides a deeper understanding of the core knowledge necessary to improve sales execution.

Prospect — Information about the ICP, IPP, their concerns, worries, and KPIs.

Problem — Clearly articulate the problem that the product solves and focus on problem-centric messaging.

Process — Define the sales methods, including how to prospect and how to use sales tech. This could include provocative, value-based, problem-centric methods or a combination thereof.

Product — Provide directional information about the product, including to whom and why it matters.

People — Define expectations for sellers, including their behaviors and the values you feel are important in the sales org. Share great sales stories about the wins.

This comprehensive structure is flexible and can be adapted to suit specific sales processes. Focus on the MVP and prioritize the most impactful elements.

  1. Bring it Into Your Day-to-day

Your sales playbook is your secret weapon for achieving great sales execution, so ensure it stays relevant and top of mind. Coach with it in your individual and group deal reviews, and keep it updated with your best practices as they arise. Giving ownership of a specific section can engender a sense of responsibility. Try it.

  1. Disseminate the Best Practices of Your A-Players

Your top performers have a lot to offer the rest of the team, so make sure to  share their best practices in  your playbook. Encourage a culture of sharing and collaboration, and keep everyone up-to-date on the latest techniques and strategies. 

  1. Update It Monthly/Quarterly

Keep your playbook in line with your go-to-market strategy by updating it regularly. As your market, features, and competition change, your playbook should adapt accordingly. If it becomes outdated, it will be less effective in helping you reach your sales targets. 

  1. Video & Gamification Are a Bonus

Everyone learns differently, so use technology to upskill your team in message delivery, demos, discovery, and objection handling. Consider using video explainers and gamified coaching to make it more engaging.

  1. Train Your Team on the Playbook

Your sales playbook is only as effective as your team’s understanding of it. Make sure you train them on how to use it and the benefits of doing so. Make it clear how the playbook ties into their targets and how it can help them succeed.

  1. Use Technology to Make It Accessible

Make sure your playbook is easily accessible to your team by using a content management system, or learning management system, integrating it into your CRM or using dedicated playbook technologies. Even simple tools like Notion can work wonders.

  1. Have A Salesperson Filter It

Your marketing team may be great, but sometimes you need a salesperson’s perspective to create a truly effective playbook that uses the right language. It needs a sales filter.

 

 Good luck!

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