The Sales Playbook: Your Guide to the Game of Sales

The term sales playbook takes its name from the world of sports – where a “play” is a set of activities a team or athlete pursues to get a desired result – such as moving the ball down the field or scoring a goal. Like its sports equivalent, a sales playbook can mean different things in different situations.

In some organizations a sales playbook can be a physical book that new sales representatives are given with information about their company’s sales process. These books detail the personal role of an individual rep in the wider sales organization and the company’s approach to selling. In other cases the playbook can be nothing more than an individual rep’s map to customer prospecting and retention; the personal equivalent of a company’s sales strategy.

Whichever the case may be the primary goal of a playbook is the same: to outline a repeatable, scalable, set of sales activities designed to help reps meet quota and grow sales revenue. This can cover everything from sales calls and emails to face-to-face meetings and demos. As the old saying goes, “failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Spending the time to build out a sales playbook before approaching prospects is essential to winning!

Creating a Sales Playbook

For those that don’t have access to an existing playbook creating one is relatively straight-forward, and it’s easy to find a free sales playbook template online that will get you started. However, you’ll need to budget the time to do it right. The first step typically involves an examination of your selling environment. You’ll need to gain a deep understanding of the product or service that you’re selling, your role in the sales process and work to identify your target market and dream accounts. It’s also useful to perform some competitive analysis to see how you stack up against the competition, prepare call scripts or outlines to help guide conversations with prospects and come up with some ways to handle common objections to your pitch.

A key point to remember is that a sales playbook isn’t meant to be immutable. It should reflect your current selling environment and will need updating from time to time. For example, a new competitor may enter the market or your company might release a new product. In such cases the core of your sales playbook will likely remain the same, but it will need some tweaking.

Metrics And Your Sales Playbook

The final element of your sales playbook should be a breakdown of the actual activities you’ll use to engage with prospects. Remember, the primary benefit of a sales playbook is to outline a replicable, scalable set of activities that you can use to win more deals. Strong sales analytics and data hygiene become important because you need to understand which activities actually move the needle on revenue, and when.

The first step is to create a system in which all sales activity is accurately recorded. You can’t tell what to focus on if you don’t know what’s worked well in the past. A strong dataset will give you invaluable insights as to what makes you win. It will also let you drill down to understand the behavior of your top performing reps. Once you understand that you can incorporate best practices from the top performing reps into your personal or company-wide sales playbook. It’s the closest thing possible to cloning your sales eagles short of a breakthrough in medical science!

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