If you want to be a doctor, you study medicine and have a ton of disease and drug updates to refer to. There are clear guides for medical practitioners to turn to, even for very rare conditions.
If you are a hairstylist, there will be charts around the salon on which hair colors blend together to form what color.
If you’re a chef, you have tried and tested recipes to refer to.
But if you’re a salesperson, the world seems to say: you better be born with it (and no amount of Maybelline will help you if you aren’t a natural at closing deals).
Does it really need to be like that? Surely, there can be an instructions manual of sorts for your sales team - some resource they can refer to as they go about their sales activities? Something to help newbies pick up the phone and approach their first discovery call with confidence.
True, there are a handful of qualities that need to be inherent in any salesperson. You need to be amicable, have some degree of charm, and have the ability to make convincing arguments. Many people will also tell you that you need to be thick-skinned because a sales job involves facing rejection fairly often. You need to be attuned to customer needs.
The list goes on and on.
That said, sales reps could definitely derive value and know-how from a resource that tells them about a company’s sales process and product and feature details. A salesperson’s life would be easier if they had insight into customer needs and the most successful sales pitches.
Product details from subject matter experts help salespersons to answer tricky questions from potential customers.
It's also only fair to offer them descriptions of typical buyers and guidelines on how to qualify leads. Even if the salesperson comes with a ton of experience, all of these factors are unique - perhaps only slightly in some cases - to specific companies and products.
The resource that we just described has a name - it’s called a sales playbook.
Sales playbooks are a go-to for a lot of successful sales teams across consumer and B2B sales.
In this post, we will talk about what a sales playbook is and describe its benefits; we will go over useful chapters (known as plays) to include and take you through the process of creating an effective sales playbook of your own.
We’ll also look at useful sales playbook templates that you can simply grab and go.
What is a sales playbook
A sales playbook is one of many sales tools that make the sales process easier for the entire team. It is a manual of sorts that describes your selling process and offers guidelines on lead qualification and sales pitches that typically work.
A sales playbook usually also includes buyer personas and an overview of the product or service that sales reps are responsible for. It typically highlights the value proposition that customers most easily and frequently respond to.
You could refer to it as a guide or a “how we do things around this sales team” kind of thing.
The point of a sales playbook is to offer successful, effective, repeatable processes that salespeople can refer to in real-time.
Benefits of a sales playbook
Imagine this: Garth has been on the team selling a SaaS product for five years, and he’s mastered all these amazing pitches to swat away sales objections and enthuse buyers. He’s been working with the product for so long that he’s a total ace.
Now when a new sales rep, Wendy, jumps aboard the salesforce, despite all her charm and grit, she struggles with similar objections and is still figuring out how to allay people’s fears and doubts. Maybe, she has to keep coming back to the sales manager, who hasn’t enough time or isn’t free at the very moment when a difference could be made. Maybe, she isn’t a subject matter expert and still struggles to answer questions about your SaaS product that prospects bombard her with.
Maybe Wendy tries to get hold of Garth, but Garth is too busy raking in revenue for the company.
If an effective sales playbook existed, Wendy and other new hires would most likely find Garth’s winning moves in there. New sales reps easily become subject matter experts because all the necessary information already exists where they can access it without too much stretching or running around.
A sales playbook is beneficial because it:
- Quickens, strengthens, and foolproofs the onboarding process for new reps
- Shares winning pitches and techniques with the whole team
- Allows the sales manager and sales reps to focus on their own tasks and sales goals, rather than hand-holding one another
- Enables improved messaging by sales and marketing teams as an at-a-glance sales resource
- Improves objection handling
What to include in your sales playbook
This isn’t set in stone. There may be some additions or subtractions that make for a handbook that works better in your context.
Sales process play
Outlines your entire sales process and might even include your sales funnel. If you feel like your sales process needs updating when you give it a re-look as part of your efforts towards creating a sales playbook, go right ahead.
Product and feature/ service play
Whether you are selling new products or products that are ubiquitous and self-explanatory (like the equivalent of a pen or something), the tone and specific language that you use matter. The critical features that your company highlights also matter. Get both the sales team and subject matter experts (the product team) to put their heads together for this section.
Elevator pitch play
Didn’t you just offer an overview of your product and service? What’s this? Well, not everyone is an expert, and keeping it short and simple. Include a few examples
What are typical prices and bulk pricing discounts? What about special pricing for package deals? You cannot expect the sales reps - especially new hires - to remember all your pricing details off-hand.
In this chapter, talk about how sales reps can best go about this process and the various platforms and channels that have been successful for your brand in terms of gathering prospects.
Lead qualification play
How should your salesforce identify qualified leads? What are the pain points that prompt them to consider your product or service? Simply answer these questions for this chapter of your playbook. Also, include a list of sales discovery questions. This chapter should give your sales team an insight into whether or not a lead deserves to be added to the sales pipeline.
Product demo play
When and how should the sales rep offer a product demo to a qualifying lead? What strategic language can they use at this point? What products/services are demos in place for?
Why is your product useful to your customers? If there are many use cases, include them all in order of significance. Maybe you sell an expense management solution - some people use it to track and manage expenses, while others say that it has brought tremendous relief to their previously tedious approvals process. Detailing the use-cases can help your sales rep recognize opportunities to get a foot in the door.
Winning sales pitch play
You can include call scripts and recordings of especially successful sales calls in this portion of your sales handbook.
Existing clients play
You want to show off who your existing customers are, especially if the sales rep is pitching to their competitors. Be sure to include a list of regular customers, or at least the ones worth bragging about. It might help to create a tiered list of large, small, and medium-sized companies so that your sales rep can name-drop appropriately.
Objection handling play
By listing the objections that are likely to come up from prospects and by suggesting ways to deal with them, you are sending your sales rep out there fully prepared. Without this, they are sort of going into battle completely clueless about the ammo that the opposing army is carrying.
Follow up play
Of course, this part of the sales process is more art than science, but you can definitely support the team (especially when they’re feeling dread or lack of enthusiasm/ confidence) with some ideas and guidelines on follow-up calls, meetings, and emails.
Closing a sale is another step in the sales process that is linked to inherent skill, but you can definitely put down dialogues and instances that work for the team on a regular basis. What moves have helped to gently, naturally, amicably, and professionally nudge the subject along at this stage of the sales process?
Referral/ testimonial play
Especially if your company offers perks or discounts in return for referrals and testimonials, you need to offer details of it in your sales handbook. Even if you don’t carrot your way to referrals and testimonials, it’s good to have a friendly reminder to ask for these in the sales playbook because your sales team already has a lot on their plate.
Create your own playbook in 9 easy steps
- Choose the chapters/ plays to include.
- Get a team together - it should consist of sales reps, head of sales, and product team members.
- Chart timelines for the rest of the process.
- Conduct an audit of what information is already available in your CRM, call recordings and people’s notes, and how much of it needs updating.
- Create an outline of the chapters that will go into the sales playbook and assign these to the members of the playbook-creation team.
- It’s time: Get on with populating the various plays of your sales playbook!
- Design the playbook. Add visuals, a hint of humor, and shorten sentences - do what it takes to make sure it isn’t a bedtime story.
- Get feedback from the playbook’s users, that is, the sales reps, by asking questions such as:
Is anything missing - do you still have questions for your sales manager?
Which play is most useful?
Which play is least useful?
Is there anything useful that you would like to add to this?
- Update your sales playbook at regular intervals. Have an update phase annually, biannually, or quarterly - set a date. Also, offer incentives to the team, like “come up with a new idea to be included in winning pitches, and you win a free meal.”
Sales playbook template
- Introduction to what the sales playbook is supposed to do
- Company overview
- Product overview in detail
- Sales process details
- Buyer’s journey
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and sales goals
- Buyer personas and customer profiles
- Lead qualification play
- Other plays that are relevant to your sales strategy
- Case studies
Sales playbook examples
No doubt, you will populate the template above in ways that are unique to your salesforce and the product that you sell. That said, there are some sections where it helps to have an example of exactly what the sales playbook should offer to sales reps. This is especially true for the sections where you help your salespeople figure out what to say. Lots of people don’t know what to say in various types of situations.
Now now, you don’t want sales pitches to sound like school elocution competitions. It will, if people read from a script. Be sure to mention at the start of this section that the call script is supposed simply offer inspiration for identifying the talking points that help build the argument in your favour at specific stages of the sales process (although for email, they can just go ahead and copy + paste).
Here are some examples:
Hi [prospect name],
I understand that you are probably super busy, so I’ll keep this quick and short.
I work with companies like [name of prospect’s business and competing businesses] to help them [insert the main benefit like for instance, get new contacts]. What our clients most like about us is this: [main selling point, like for instance, response rates are twice the city’s average].
I would be happy to offer you or a colleague (or a small team) a 20-minute demo. Would next [insert day and time] work for you?
Hi [prospect name], I am calling from [business/ company name] and I got your details from [reference name].
Is this a good time?
Pause for an answer
Option 2: if they say no
I understand. Good luck with [whatever is keeping them from speaking right now]
Can I call you tomorrow at [timing]
Or would you prefer if I drop you some details over email?
Thank you for your time. Bye!
Option 1: If they say yes:
[reference] told me that you might find [product/ feature/ service] useful because you [describe need/ goal that your product could help serve]
Is that true?
<Pause for an answer/ more information>
<Process this information and then cite product features that help.>
If you like I can arrange for you to get a real feel of everything we just talked about through a product demo?
What time suits you?
Let’s set this up.
See you then. Thank you for your time, bye!
Good morning/ Good evening/ Hello/Hi [name], I left a voice message last week regarding X and thought I’d see if tomorrow will be a more suitable/ convenient time for us to talk.
To remind you, we [state your USP]. I’d love to show you how you can enable [state result].
Shall we plan a call so that you can learn more
Hi [name], I just chanced upon your [their status/ blog post/ comment/ photo/ video/reel] on [platform] and thought the points you made were very insightful/ delightful and I agree with a lot of your views.
It also made me want to reach out so I could talk to you about how [their company] could benefit from our software that totally takes care of [issue s/he raised/ joked about].
Does [insert date and time] work for a quick chat/ call?
[maybe close with something from the post/ comment/ status/ video that you are using as a hook, like for instance, “Good luck with your XYZ. Hope it works out”.
With Wingman, creating a sales playbook is easier.
When you use Wingman, a lot of the information that you need to put together already exists in your system, neatly ordered and itemized. Call recordings and call metrics help you to choose the best calls for inclusion in the “winning pitches” chapter of the playbook.
You can also get your common objections and use-cases very easily with auto-transcription and quick AI-powered insights derived from your team’s sales calls.
Moreover, Wingman bolsters the positive impact of a sales playbook. Sales reps may gear up to tackle sales calls by browsing through the playbook, but they might not be able to leaf through it midway through a sales call when they feel stuck. They can, however, glance at Wingman’s live call cues and real-time insights quickly and use them to ace their sales call.
Get a free demo today, and see firsthand how Wingman helps you score more customers.