The first questions I always get from my clients when I talk about why they should create sales playbooks is, "How do we go about creating playbooks, and who does it?" This is not surprising, given that most companies have cut way back on their sales support staff this year.
The key is to keep it simple and base it on what's proven to work. Here's a simple four step process that I always use.
1. Assess ::
You start by identifying recurring selling situations where you want to drive repeatable behavior. If you find your team competing in 80 deals a quarter selling a particular product line to CIOs in the manufacturing industry, that situation is a good candidate for a playbook.
Once you’ve identified the situation, profile winning sales engagements by interviewing your top reps to find out things like:
- What were the buyer’s information needs at each stage of their problem-solving process?
- What tools and materials did the reps use and when?
- What objections did they have to overcome?
- What experts did the rep bring in to help work the deal, and what role did they play?
Look for the patterns across multiple sales engagements, and then align these with your sales cycle or sales process. Don't believe the statement you may hear that "each of our top sales people does things very differently." Remember, sales is like any other business process, in that the only way to scale it is to drive repeatability.
2. Build ::
Organize the content, tools, and resources you identified in the Assess stage into playbook activities. Identify gaps where new information needs to be created and assign ownership for filling the gaps. Surround the playbook activities with coaching tips that help the reps know how to perform the activities.
3. Launch ::
Roll out the sales playbooks to the sales team. Start with a pilot group to get feedback. Make sure there are well-respected sales professionals who are opinion leaders in that pilot group. Expand usage to the larger team with the support of sales management, marketing and the opinion leaders in sales. As you roll it out, make sure everyone knows which top performers were interviewed to gather the best practices for the playbook, because every middle-of-the-pack rep is always wanting to know what the superstars are doing so they can do it too.
4. Evolve ::
Playbooks should be living, breathing creatures. Monitor usage and measure the impact. And use these metrics to optimize the playbooks over time. You will find opportunities to:
- Refine the activities, content and messaging within the playbooks
- Eliminate the choke points in your sales process
- Keep deals from going off track
- Develop new sales playbooks
If it takes you more than a week to create a playbook, then you're likely overthinking it and making it too complicated. You're better off focusing on the 10-15 things or activities that really matter in a sales cycle, rather than overloading the playbook with everything a rep may ever need.
And don't forget to check out the guide on How to Create Killer Sales Playbooks for more details and best practices.