What do football, space travel, and high-performing sales teams have in common?

When the Arizona Cardinals need to know anything, they turn to their playbook. It’s got everything players need – from how to stand ready on the football field to the precise blocking pattern for the Jet Technique.

Astronauts never leave their vessel without a detailed checklist, usually attached to the cuff of their spacesuit. It’s crammed with diagrams and instructions in-situ, for the tasks ahead.

And top sales teams pay attention to the same kinds of details. They follow proven plays when it comes to things like outlining buyer personas, handling objections, and weighing competitive intelligence.

What all three share: that indispensable reference providing clear explanations for complex strategies. In other words, their playbook.

What is a sales playbook?

A sales playbook is the central place that has all the information your reps need to sell. It captures each play involved in moving a deal forward, and all the knowledge reps need to pull those plays off.

It outlines things like:

  • Information about the products you sell
  • Details about the people you sell to
  • Steps in your sales process
  • Messaging, questions, and scripts
  • Samples and templates
  • Competitive and industry intelligence
  • On-demand resources for support
  • KPIs for your team

Depending on your team, playbooks can help you:

Make training more effective. You can bring new reps up to speed much faster when you spell out all the steps and strategies involved in closing a deal. When you start them off right, those new hires don’t have to make guesses or develop bad habits.

Boost performance. Playbooks capture what your best reps do well and make best practices accessible to your whole team. A study from Aberdeen shows the best-performing companies are almost twice as likely to use playbooks than the low performers.

Save time. Reps spend a lot of time looking for – and only sometimes finding – information. With all your key plays held in one place, you slash time spent searching for knowledge and let reps get back to selling.

Make messaging consistent. When all your reps reference the same source material (and when they can actually find what they’re looking for), you reduce the amount of content they create ad-hoc, on their own. 

Meet expectations. Most customers do their homework before they reach out to a salesperson. They expect reps to be even more knowledgeable than they are. A playbook helps reps prepare for calls and meet those high expectations. 

Here’s the thing, though. Playbooks are great in concept, not so great in execution. You’ll often find content spread out between word docs, scattered across shared drives, haphazardly collected in massive PDFs, physically pieced together in hulking binders, or simply not written down at all. 

And when playbook content isn’t well organized, it doesn’t do you much good. In fact, we see sales teams stumble over these common mistakes all the time:

  • Content falls out of date, meaning your reps aren’t working with the most recent strategies, messaging and processes. 
  • They send mixed messages when two sources of information don’t agree, leaving reps scrambling to figure out which got it right. 
  • Information takes a long time to find, since reps need to scour several different places or read through long paragraphs to find that critical nugget they need to answer a quick question or close a sale.

Enter the modern playbook

Today, sales processes are more complex and customer expectations are higher than ever. The old approach just doesn’t cut it anymore. We believe a truly modern sales playbook can do much, much better. 

How? Here’s what we’re excited about:

Surfacing knowledge: Every rep – and we mean every rep – has knowledge living in their head that could help someone else on your team become more effective. The only problem: it rarely gets documented. Your playbook is the perfect place to start collecting those first-hand lessons that make your best sellers your best sellers. 

Collaborative sharing: Playbooks should allow every rep on your team to add their experiences to your trove of knowledge. Got a new idea that worked well with a prospect? Throw it in there for everyone to benefit. Did a particular tip save your sale? Favourite it and let others know.

A single source of truth: If a price or product feature changes, you shouldn’t have to comb through and update it in 50 different places. All playbook content should be linked back to an original, so changes in one spot flow through everywhere else.

Customizability: There’s no such thing as a perfect pinnacle of a playbook because no two sales teams are the same. Whatever your reps need to know, that’s what you should put in there. That’s why modern playbooks should allow for mixing and matching content, both at an organizational and an individual level.

Fast finding: Who has the time to sort through 3 different drives or a 30-page PDF, anyway? Searching for the right content can take hours out of a rep’s week – hours they could be spending making sales. And sometimes they need answers right now. That’s why it’s not enough simply to put everything in one place. Once it’s there, it needs to be findable in a flash.

Micro-content: Once reps find their content, they don’t want to read 5 paragraphs about it. They just want the nugget that matters most. Micro-content is all about short snippets, quick images or videos that get the main points across quickly. Basically, it’s what your reps need to know, in-the-moment.

Sales-centered organization: Should you organize your playbook by the steps in your sales process? The customers you sell to? The kinds of tasks your reps perform day-to-day? Competitors in your field? You don’t have to choose just one when you can remix the content in your playbook in many different ways.

Smart integrations: Your playbook is part of a whole ecosystem of sales technology, which means you can supercharge it with content that automatically pulls from your CRM, your filesharing service and your collaboration platforms. Less work on updates means more time for selling.

AI-enabled insights: Not only does the modern playbook show you what reps are actually using in real-time, but it can figure out what information you’re missing – and how you can fill those gaps.

 

What does a modern playbook look like in action? Let us show you. Not only can you register for our free trial, but we’ll give you access to over 50 templates to get you off to the right start.

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