Nothing happens until a sale is made.
In every organization, sales play a pivotal role in the overall success of a business. A sales department helps communicate value between the company and its customers, but most importantly, they execute the business plan and solidify cash flow — the lifeline of a business. It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on how organizations conduct sales. Many challenges arose due to companies introducing tighter budget constraints, stricter investment criteria, and digitized interactions. As a result, a sales playbook has become a vital guide to optimize onboarding and highlight defined strategies that will increase sales efficiency and conversion. Now, not all playbooks are created equal! Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your own or looking to build one yourself, we’ve highlighted 5 things that companies need to know about a winning sales playbook. 1. Playbook Should Be Developed Across Related Departments We can draw many parallels between sports and business. For instance, a star player may carry a team to victory against a weak competitor. However, when competition tightens and becomes more complex, a star player becomes increasingly reliant on their teammates to create opportunities and efficiencies to score in all areas of the game. Similarly, constructing a winning set of strategies and processes is a team effort across interrelated departments such as sales, marketing, and product development. Increased coordination and information sharing among these departments will result in more valuable insights, quicker response times, and completeness in understanding your target segments. Not only will collaboration ensure that the playbook is comprehensive and cohesive with a business’s goals and competitiveness, but it will also encourage idea generation to improve existing methodologies and ultimately improve joint performance. Start by initiating a brainstorming session with key players within interrelated departments to align on the purpose of the playbook, and identify all elements that should be included such as customer analysis, product analysis, and current sales strategies. Once the contents are finalized, a periodic meeting with these departments should be in place to review and update the playbook as new developments arise. 2. Continuously Measure and Refine Your Playbook A sales playbook should not be stagnant; it should evolve alongside changes in technology, market trends, and consumer behaviour. Encourage your team to look for ideas that help improve and adapt the playbook to current environments, and implement methods to record and measure the effectiveness of new and existing strategies within the playbook. A concrete criteria should be developed to evaluate the extent to which it has achieved the goals set. Furthermore, periodically audit your playbook to refine existing content and ensure that it includes the most relevant and up-to-date information available.
3. Incorporate Data Analytics
Since data analytics has become so crucial in helping organizations optimize their performance, it is beneficial to incorporate some of these analytics into your playbook to highlight any trends or patterns within your customer base, forecast future outcomes and test various strategies before scaling them. The use of analytics helps validate and enhance the accuracy of information. For instance, past purchasing history paired with external data such as industry reports, consumer trends, and social media can be compiled to create a 360-degree view of the customer. A thorough understanding of various customer profiles and underlying drivers enables the sales force to focus their efforts on deals that create the most value, and hone in on specific characteristics that will give them an edge over competitors.
4. Include Case Examples and Outcomes in the Playbook
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” Oftentimes there is a disconnect between theory and how it will be applied in a practical context. Application of theory becomes challenging without examples or personal experience. One way to improve the effectiveness of a playbook is by including real-life examples as case studies. Instead of starting from zero, your sales team can analyze real scenarios to build and refine their own sales arsenal. Concrete examples are a great way to illustrate the underlying theory within the playbook and provide detailed guidance of what message or strategy to use among varying customer profiles. As a result, your sales force can critically examine what went right and what went wrong after the fact and reference back to it when similar situations arise.
We suggest incorporating a needs assessment questionnaire to gather data on common pain points that drive customers to seek your product or service. Next, develop a survey to obtain direct feedback from your closed deals. This will help build a reliable case study that accurately breaks down the client's problem, sales tactic used, and results.
5. A Playbook is Not Enough
While a playbook provides uniformity and a structured sales process to create efficiencies, it should not be treated as a “one-book-fits-all” solution. Your sales force must have the flexibility and confidence to handle situations that may not yet be addressed in the playbook. To achieve this, ensure that your sales force obtains the proper training and experience, and empowers them to personalize content within the playbook to address the current needs of their customers. People are dynamic and complex, and therefore it is important that the sales team can adjust plays and incorporate their uniqueness when communicating value to customers.
With so many factors affecting the sales process, a well-developed sales playbook helps your sales team make better decisions when faced with uncertainty. By implementing these 5 best practices, your organization can create a playbook that will enhance your team’s unity, confidence, and ability to convert leads into revenue.