Creating Your Sales Playbook
You've mapped out your sales process, you've defined each step in your sales process in detail, and you understand your buyer's perspective. Your next step is to create a deal-closing sales playbook that will set you and your team up for success for years to come. So, how do you do this? In this article, we will explore what it means to create a sales playbook and why it is important.
Before we get into how to create a sales playbook, let's review the 5 crucial steps that go into creating a sales process.
- Map your sales process.
- Clearly define your sales process from beginning to end.
- Understand your sales process from your buyer's perspective.
- Create a sales playbook.
- Evaluate and Improve your sales process based on your customers' feedback.
Each step is vital to the success of the others. For this reason, it's important to be intentional and think about the methodology behind each step.
Think about your sales methodology
Once you’ve defined the steps of your sales process, you need to think about your sales methodology and define your sales playbook.
Utilize a sales methodology for training
“...there's an overlay on top of the sales process, which is your sales methodology. This is your secret sauce. This is what you're doing in each step. Maybe it's uncovering pain, maybe it's identifying whether or not you've figured out a budget… Understanding and training towards the skill set necessary to adhere to a sales process, by utilizing a sales methodology that's repeatable, is key for scaling as well… So people know what to do when they're in any specific stage of the process.” -Hilmon Sorey and Cory Bray, Authors of The Sales Enablement Playbook
So, which sales methodologies do you choose?
Your job as a sales leader is to figure out which methodology will work best when executing your sales process with your target persona.
There are a lot of sales methodologies out there. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, and a lot of them are so similar that it’s hard to tell the difference. No single sales methodology is going to be perfectly suited to your sales process and your persona. That's why Mike Kunkle suggests something differently: taking multiple sales methodologies that you like and mixing them together in a way that suits your business and your team the best.
"Adapt the way that you approach the conversation with a buyer based on where they're coming from rather than what you're trying to do.”-Mike Kunkle, Founder and sales transformation architect for Transforming Sales Results, LLC
What sales methodology does your team need?
Do some research and figure out what your team needs to build your custom methodology.
Your sales methodology establishes consistency
You might come up with something completely new that’s a combination of different methodologies. The most important thing is to have a methodology that teaches your team to execute your sales process in such a way that your customers all become raving fans. For that to happen, you need consistency across team members in the way they execute your sales process. So more important than the methodology you choose is the way you document it. You need to create a playbook that shows your reps the best way to execute your sales process.
Creating a sales playbook
What is a sales playbook?
Walter Pollard, founding member of the Sales Enablement Society (SES), said, “A playbook is an accumulation of knowledge that you provide the reps at specific stages of the sales cycle, as they need it, to move forward and guide them through the sales process.”
What are the four areas of content in a playbook?
The four areas a sales playbook should cover:
- What to know
- What to do
- What to say
- What to show
What goes into a playbook?
There are four areas that a playbook needs according to Walter Pollard
The first area is called “What to know”. In other words, what does a sales rep need to know to sell? What product are they selling? What features does the product have? What service are they selling? What sales methodology are they using? What personas are they actually focusing on?
Secondly, what do they do? What are the steps, strategies, and tactics those sales reps are taking to effectively engage the client before, during, and after every sales conversation?
Third, what do they say? What is the core messaging? What are the storylines they want to tell the customer? What questions do they have? What are the conversation talk tracks?
And fourth, what do they show? This can include pitch decks, whiteboard sessions, videos, and compelling visual content that can draw emotion from the buyer. The visual components should have an engaging nature. You can leverage video editing software to merge and edit video clips to create a video that will serve as the one-stop destination for your sales team to learn the sales process.
What should your sales playbook include?
Your sales playbook should be more than just methodology and process. It should include the content that you want your reps to share with prospects during the sales process. At the least, include the four areas: what to know, what to do, what to say, and what to show.
Create a content marketing plan
“Know your buying process exit criteria,” said Mike Kunkle, founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC. “Think about your most common four personas, the journey they go through, and what the exit criteria are. You can actually start to develop a content marketing plan that answers those questions about what those buyers need to see, hear, feel, understand, and believe in each stage.”
Your content marketing plan can be arranged into four criteria:
Creating a content strategy helps your sales team
If you cringed at the phrase “content marketing plan,” you’re not alone. Sales and marketing are famous for not getting along. But don’t worry--it’s possible to create a content strategy that will make your team’s job easier instead of harder:
“Most organizations that we work with have some level of content. Marketing is constantly putting together content, we see whitepapers, we see case studies, you see stuff on the website. Great compendium stuff that's sitting in Google Docs. Maybe you've got some PDFs – great tools for shooting out content around the universe. Does that stuff work for sales? No, because people need a content framework. What they have in most cases is piles of content, they've got these case studies, they've got these product use cases, they've got white papers, they've got blog posts, they've got infographics, they've got all kinds of content.
But in a world where salespeople need to deliver words with their mouths, there's a disconnect. And so, one of the things that we like to talk about is the framework of the Pain Persona Feature Content Matrix. It's basically a four-column matrix that says for each persona, what's the pain that they have relevant to us. What feature do we have that solves that pain for them and then what content do we have that talks about us solving that pain for that persona with that feature?
Now that could just be a story. We were talking about this with someone yesterday and he said you know, we don't have enough customer stories, we don't have enough case studies, that's something that we need to work on. And after a little further discovery, we realized they don't have a closed loop between customer success and sales.
So, whenever customers are talking about how they're using the product to be successful, there's no way to get that information back to the salespeople, so then they can use that in selling conversations. That's the trick. It's not building some big massive content library of words that will take an hour to read. It's figuring out how to hone in that three-word phrase right when he's speaking with a specific persona who has a pain that we solve with a specific feature.” -Hilmon Sorey and Cory Bray
Create a persona, pain, feature, and content matrix
For each buyer persona, add rows for their pain points, and define your features and content for each.
For each pain point, add rows for the features of your product that help with that pain point. And for each feature, add rows for the content pieces that explain that feature (i.e. infographics, web pages, blog posts, etc.).
This matrix can hold a lot more than just content. You can put specific questions in there that you want your reps to ask during sales calls. You can include phrases or sentences that will help them explain particular features. You can include email templates, call scripts, or anything else that will help your reps with speaking to that person in that situation. Do that for each persona. That content matrix, combined with your sales methodology, will give you a robust playbook.
Your playbook is your sales team’s tool for success
Your playbook should help a salesperson handle practically any conversation with any person and help them to avoid taboo sales tactics that drive away customers.
What does a finished sales playbook look like?
“A successful playbook. First, number one, I'm a strong believer in digital playbooks. We've seen playbooks that are PDF files in digital form, but they're not interactive. I would say the success matrix for playbooks, they should be web-based, they should be on-demand, they should be interactive. They should have video. I think it's vitally important. And they should be evergreen, meaning that you keep updated in that mode consistently because a playbook is always changing for the reps. So, that's key. And if you have a digital playbook and structure through a good system, it's easy to update in scale.” -Walter Pollard
Your digital sales playbook
Create a digital playbook of everything your reps need to know, and then your team will be able to execute your sales process effectively. You can do this by checking this certification on the HubSpot Sales Software.
About the author: Kyle teaches sales and CRM courses at HubSpot Academy. He is best known for his work on the HubSpot Sales Software Certification and the Sales Enablement Certification. He is the father of three children, the lucky husband of an equally lucky woman, and aspires to be the author of one of those paperback novels you see in grocery store check-out lines. Connect with Kyle on LinkedIn and Twitter.