Drafting a high-impact sales process playbook is like confronting a problem head-on. The playbook has become a change in basic assumptions from old methods to new ones.
Sales professionals must view a sale from all sides, the buyers, and the sellers. Also, the management of every aspect of the sale cycle becomes a disciplined process that creates value for everyone involved to better help buyers and clients through the decision process.
Your B2B sales process solidifies the connection with your market. No fixed rules exist. When drafting your playbook, you’ll establish your own company philosophy. Your sales team acts as your brand’s ambassadors. Providing sales pros with a concise playbook gives them a head start because they aren’t starting out with a blank canvas. Instead, they will have a well-researched playbook at their disposal to create greater efficiency.
Selling is a bit of a yin and yang - give and take - open-loop process. Sales control the sales process but the customer also has control of a portion of everything that goes on.
More than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%). (Spotio)
Also, every selling interaction is a dynamic, fluid process which means your sales team has to stay on their toes by being ready to transition quickly to meet each particular situation and customer’s needs.
What to Include in a Sales Playbook?
You want to give your team-specific tools that they can use to hone their performance and skills. When drafting the playbook, you’ll want to factor in the customer’s unique perspective too.
With a sales playbook, you’ll know the precise steps required to best advance a sale. It will help the sales professional and buyer communicate clearly to achieve the best results. Ultimately, you want to ensure that you make successful sales with Buyers and clients, and prospects by having a sales playbook at the disposal of your team.
The first section of any playbook should contain your brand’s philosophy.
List an overview of the following:
Make a list of questions and answers that clients/customers frequently ask about the organization.
Outline your brand’s language and tone. You’ll use the information in all content used in association with your business whether written or verbal. Think about the character and persona you want to create for your brand. Is your business more technical and factual or maybe it is free-spirited, lightheaded, and conversational?
Create a character representation of your clients/customers by focusing on the following:
- Relationship status (single or married)
- Children (ages)
- Where do they live?
- Yearly income
- Other brands they frequently use (like and dislike)
The scripts are simply a suggestion. You are not going to require that your sales professionals follow them word-for-word. Instead, they function as a playbook for success. The ability to tell stories actually starts to earn customer trust and pave the way toward winning buyers.
A pre-written script displays the brand’s voice in action. It should also outline the company’s philosophy. Always write scripts by considering the customer’s persona.
Take your current sales solutions and then add statistics. Consider things such as the best times to call or email. How long will the sales professional wait before they follow up on an engagement? Think about the various successful tactics and then start adding them to the playbook.
A sales rep has to have access to tools that help them keep track of their leads. Good dogs for smaller teams are ideal. Dedicated software for sharing documents online, a virtual phone, and more are just a few of the must-have tools.
Create concise metrics for sales with anticipated targets and outlined earnings. Most sales reps are performance-driven so you’ll want to make sure that your playbook outlines the reward system in depth.
Think about what is selling. Concisely, selling is the process of parties reaching a beneficial agreement.
The components of selling include:
- Selling involves a series of actions that form a process. It is not just a single act.
- The process of selling provides mutual agreements to each party involved. It is about creating a win/win dynamic when reaching the deal.
- Professional sales do conform to a certain degree to a standard. Yes, there is room for creativity and individuality, but the entire process is actually very disciplined and follows the playbook.
An Empowered Decision Process
Modern technology has added layers to selling for buyers that simply did not exist years ago. Old-school traditional selling processes simply lack the sophistication to keep up due to limitations. New schools of selling have become necessary to succeed. One of the modern buying processes has truly flipped things by aligning the points of the sale with the buyer’s considerations.
Selling is no longer simply about making a sale. Now it focuses on letting people make decisions that are mutually beneficial. An empowered decision process lets a seller and buyer work together to create a deal that satisfies everyone involved.
In 2022, there are an average of 7 decision-makers involved in the B2B buying process.
Traditional sales methods once viewed people in niches. You were either a prospect or a customer. There was no delineation made between the two. The legacy process was never favored in quality or fit for the prospect/customer. There was a serious lack of transparency which made sales forecasting inaccurate and inconsistent. Everything was in a state of disorder.
Modern sales departments have now strived to remedy the situation by creating a gate system in the pipeline process. With the gates, prospects are placed in categories based on where they are in the selling/buying process. Gate systems are an improvement on old-school sales methods, but they are still not completely effective and often fall short of meeting the needs of sales professionals, managers, and executives who are looking to scale. In such situations, they require a great deal of knowledge and insight to make timely and effective decisions.
The traditional focus was once on closing sales or what was referred to as ‘enabling people to buy.’ The systems caused adversarial relationships to form. An empowered decision approach is far removed from the traditional processes. The approach lets the sales professional take a leadership role where they foster mutual benefit. The seller and prospect can move forward a step at a time with complete clarity and confidence because they know that at the end of the day, they will make the right decision and take the proper action.
Managing decisions is the paradigm shift we referred to in our introduction. A sales professional now views the sale from all angles: the buyer’s and the seller’s perspectives. When managing the sales cycle, everything is disciplined. The focus is homed in on leading prospects and buyers through the decision process so that the final outcome provides genuine value for the buyer and the seller.
- Know the steps that need to be taken before a sale.
- Communicate clearly with the buyer.
- Work so that both you and the buyer improve the end results
- Use clients and prospects to help make sales.
Coping with Decision Reluctance
If a buyer has to change to take advantage of what you are selling or offering, then their decision often takes on multiple facets. Any time the value of an offer is more than the cost, or it fits a buyer’s needs then the decision is usually acceptable and the deal moves forward.
A buyer’s assessment will change if the costs and risks increase due to unexpected consequences. If you do not proactively influence and support the decision process of the buyer, then the outcome is unpredictable and risky at best.
In sales, four reasons exist why a seller won’t buy from you:
- Does not need what is being sold.
- Lack of trust.
- The perceived belief is that the cost (pain) of necessary changes is greater than the cost of simply not going forward.
- Inability to make decisions due to inadequate information or not fully grasping the information.
The key to success is to shift the focus away from trying to manage to say and instead focus on managing the buyer’s decision process. Such a simple change can ensure that you do not lose a sale and also can recognize when your efforts are paying off. You’ll be in a better place to free resources and apply them to winnable opportunities or towards generating new ones. Typically, any buyer’s first premature decision involves pinpointing that they have a concern or problem, so you’ll know early in the process there is an obstacle.
Determining Sales Mistakes
A frequent sales mistake that a salesperson makes is to assume that if a customer says they have a problem, then they understand what the problem is and how to solve it. Instead of addressing the area of concern, they simply focus on telling the customer how wonderful the company is and how it will help solve the problem.
Usually, the salesperson functions in a professional way and provides quality information. The customer might even follow up with concerns or questions. Such a reaction is viewed as an indication that the customer will soon make the decision to buy. However, at this stage, the buyer often enters a state of decision reluctance.
They start to ask themselves the following questions:
- How much will the problem cost?
- How dire is the problem compared to other issues?
- What is the payoff when implementing the solution?
- Are there risks associated?
- What are the possible outcomes?
Decision reluctance is an obstacle that occurs during the sales process when the salesperson fails to provide adequate information related to the decision that the customer is facing. In many cases, the customer might not even know they lack the information needed to plan.
The salesperson has dropped the ball by not identifying the potential problems and questions the customer has. They have failed to provide the needed information to push the sale along to the next stage, which is a common mistake.
Examining the Sales Process
The sales process is a repeatable set of steps that a sales organization has its sales professionals follow to acquire clients. It can also be utilized to deepen and expand services, products, and solutions to better meet the needs of clients or clients.
- Create Alignment: Develop a strong sales process that effectively aligns with the buyer’s needs, journey, and situation. A good sales process is never a ‘one-size-fits-all.’ Instead, tailor each one for every customer.
- Waypoints & Exit: A high-impact sales process acts as an effective map that helps identify milestones along the process that function as guideposts to a successful outcome. Everything becomes clearer.
- Flexibility: All individual sales have to have flexibility. Manage each one to achieve the necessary milestones. There will always be natural differences that vary between clients' situations, and sales professionals. Always providing optimum flexibility helps meet the challenges head-on.
- Willingness to Repeat: Developing a robust sales process lets your sales team manage opportunities using a repeatable operation.
- Supports Interactions: The purchase journey is never smooth sailing. Different perspectives and points will alter the map. Many times, usable information is revealed when managing a sale so having a strong sales process in place can leverage the incoming intel to create greater strengths.
- Ability to Make a Strong Decision: A strong sales process goes beyond simple management. The goal is always to ensure that the buyer and seller both make a strong decision.
- Progressive: Progress is particularly important during any sale’s progress. It needs to move in a defined process towards a positive conclusion for both sides.
- Win/Win: During a sale, everyone – both the buyer and the seller – should walk away feeling like they won. The experience should feel positive and up-lifting.
Sales Process vs. Sales Methodology
The two terms, sales process, and sales methodology share similarities but they each describe varying elements.
- Sales Process: A concisely articulated description of the repeatable steps that a sales professional follows to achieve a sale.
- Sales Methodology: A method or approach used to progress during the sales process. It can change and remains fluid.
Combining a strong sales process with a sales methodology creates a very impressive game plan that helps ensure greater predictability and lets a sales professional better control the end results.
Defining & Documenting the Sales Process
A sales process consists of a strong plan with a clear purpose.
Three objectives exist in any meaningful business process:
- Focus on making the business efficient without impacting the goal.
- Create consistency through various activities to manage all of the complexities.
- Develop a base to improve and optimize the process so adjustments can also be conducted if needed.
Always document the sales process. Without establishing a guide and creating documentation, the sales team will not do the same thing twice for each sale. You’ll have no standard to access or optimize your actions. Instead, you’ll experience greater complexity and disruptions which will slow sales and result in higher costs.
The Impact of Innovation
Any time you discuss effective sales strategies, you probably notice that there is always a strong focus on B2B vs B2C, prices (high and low), products, and services, However, the most pivotal difference remains between continuous or discontinuous value propositions.
The difference focuses on the level of change the buyer must undergo to obtain the best outcome until purchase. With continuous innovation, there is no need for change. After purchase, the buyer obtains the benefits and objectives of a positive purchase.
Benefits of Continuous Innovation
- Requires no new learning or changes in behavior.
- The buying process focuses on the product or service.
- Everything remains an insignificant risk.
Problems with Discontinuous Innovation
- Needs new learning or behaviors carried out by the buyer.
- Factors outside drive the sale.
- Substantial risk.
You might wonder, “Can my clients benefit from the sales if they do not change their behavior?”
If your answer is a firm “yes” then your sales process already features continuous innovation. However, if you answer ‘no’ then the sales approach probably aligns with discontinuous innovation.
The risk of purchasing continuous innovation is relatively minimal risk. However, discontinuous innovation remains a considerable risk for the buyer. Purchasing value-added solutions involve risk.
- Financial investment.
- The time needed to implement solutions.
- Poor image of the company.
- Possibly the solution fails.
Decision Making Phases
If you plan on developing a decision process, then you’ll want to document the various decisions your clients/buyers weigh when deciding. List all of the decisions that the buyers make in order.
When a decision to buy occurs, it is the fulfillment of numerous decisions. It is impossible to outline all decisions that a buyer will go through, but they can be broken down into four phases that are each very distinct.
There are four distinct phases involved in every decision. The four phases might be completed within seconds or could even take years. No firm time exists.
The Discovery Phase is the first stage that any prospect enters. It is often considered the ‘intent to investigate’ phase. The discovery phase is also often referred to as the epiphany phase within the buyer’s journey.
At this point, the prospect or customer is thinking about things and weighing them out. They have started to prioritize all issues, obstacles, and opportunities which directs them where their attention should focus.
The Discovery Phase is when the buyer and seller meet. At this point, sales professionals should make sure that all sales activities have been well-orchestrated and are in alignment with the company’s approach.
During the Discovery Phase, the prospect is open to influence.
The Diagnosis Phase
The Diagnosis Phase builds awareness and creates demand. The decision criteria also start to occur. The prospect starts to move beyond feeling there is a potential problem and, instead, starts to actually define the problem, figure out its cause, and rank it as a priority.
During this phase of the decision process, it's easy to become confused about the various solutions and what the solutions represent. However, the sales professionals will have robust diagnostic skills and a toolset in place which they can use to quickly set themselves apart from the competition and give themselves the competitive plan to better impact the Diagnosis Phase.
The sale actually occurs in diagnosis.
Figuring out the indicators of what someone or an organization will buy or do is all about being able to define the problem, its cause, and its cost. If a sale starts to stall and the buyer shows unpredictable behavior, then it is typically because of this phase. You don’t want to ever rush past the diagnosis phase. Instead, make sure all questions are answered and loose ends are tied up.
The Design Phase
You want to figure out how to solve the problem. If the problem has not been clearly defined during the diagnosis phase, then it's going to be hard to define and figure out a solution in the design phase.
At this point, the buyer seeks to understand the solution alternatives. They will weigh the resources they can use to solve the problem and better understand the assorted options.
Carry the design phase-out by collaborating with the prospect so they can better understand the risks, trade-offs, and alternatives. If a buyer participates in this process, then the solution truly becomes theirs. The seller should maintain a leadership role during the process.
The design phase is about building strong customer relations and reaching solutions.
The Decision Phase
Usually, this is the phase all sales professionals focus on. At this phase, a great deal of clarity is formed. A sales professional can focus on the prospect’s desired expectations and find out if any red flags exist.
This is the final stage when the decision is reached.
Documenting the Sales Process
Both parties, the seller, and the buyer must remain fully engaged and active during the entire sales process.
With a traditional selling approach, a couple of flows exist:
- The buyer makes the decision.
- The approach focuses on a single big decision ‘yes/no.’
With the modern decision process, both the buyer and seller are responsible for working together to make mutual decisions that actually build upon each other. They form a true partnership.
- You should always focus on achieving a win/win sale or there is no sale. Both parties have to walk away as winners.
- Successful sales take time and challenging work. You’ll need to allocate a sufficient amount of hours/days/weeks to gain higher value opportunities.
A sales organization that takes an initiative-taking approach lets you define and document the sales process. Documenting the process helps recent sales reps too.
Modern selling is complex and dynamic. It involves many variables so inadequate documentation can quickly lead to misalignment and even cause negative friction.
Designing the Sales Process
Over-engineering, the sales process has become a common mistake. Instead, ensure that the documentation depicts how things are truly done in the real world. The roadmap designed should offer clarity without being overly rigid.
Start designing the sales process by identifying waypoints that show inflection points along the entire sales process. Once you define your waypoints, they will become your pipeline stages. Group the actions together as you progress through the decision/sales process.
They will break into two categories:
- Activities/decisions, actions that occur in the defined progression
- Activities, decisions, and actions that occur in the decision/sales process
In the activities list, note which actions or decisions were crucial to your success.
Build your pipeline roadmap, and create a table format with five columns:
- Stage Name
- Customer Actions
- Salesperson actions
- Exit Criteria for Stage
The Necessity of a Sales Playbook
A sales playbook is an effortless way to determine the effectiveness of the sales pipeline so you can adjust and create an even more positive impact. With an effective sales playbook, things can quickly turn into pandemonium.
A new sales rep will also benefit from having a standardized structure. You can easily assign roles and objectives to every member of the team.
Your team will also need to know your best practices and how you dealt with disputes or competition in the past. With a sales playbook, you’ll record the information needed to effectively close deals at various stages through the sales cycle. The playbook can then be used by your sales teams and sales reps.
Benefits of a Sales Playbook
In today’s data-driven environment, the goals of an effective sales team have not changed very much. However, the resources and tools have evolved and undergone serious tech updates. AI-powered software is even assisting sales teams in creating innovative new accounts and updating/amending existing ones.
Below is a list of the many advantages associated with having a high-impact sales process playbook for your team of sales professionals.
A sales playbook acts as an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide for both new hires and existing sales professionals. Providing your team with a customer's profile and expectations is a valuable resource, especially when training.
Sales managers go over the sales playbooks quickly and it becomes a handy single resource that creates clarity and removes the risk of misinformation.
Salespersons like buyers who reach out promptly. People are notoriously impatient, and you might lose a sale to the competition if you do not promptly respond. With a sales playbook, your sales team can quickly create personalized salespeople and even make one-of-a-kind sales calls using a uniform platform. They can then respond to various sales scenarios using the playbook.
Without a sales playbook, it can take hours to create a tailored pricing chart or other content material. However, the playbook lets them quickly develop the necessary data which means they can rapidly meet the needs of their buyers and achieve more sales.
Using the sales playbook, a sales manager and reps can quickly have access to essential features about products such as buyer stereotypes, sales enabling content, and existing resources. Even key performance indicators (KPIs) are at the disposal of the sales team.
Reduced Sales Cycles
A playbook can help shorten the sales cycle. Everything becomes clear and mistakes are avoidable. The playbook makes things easy to follow for the entire team so that everyone uses the same technology at the same time to create fluidity in the workplace. Reducing sales cycles ensures happier clients/customers.
When everyone is on the same page, you’ll avoid costly mistakes. The playbook defines things and lets your team filter out the bad leads quicker and easier. They can then spend more time pursuing leads and making conversions.
Guided selling lets your salespeople docs on customers and their problems to create shorter sales cycles and reduce the various stages.
With sales management, it's important to have firm guidelines along with outlined standardized methods. A sales playbook offers instructions and tools that your sales team will rely on. It also outlines clear expectations for any new employees. You can create uniformity throughout your sales force which saves valuable time.
When you combine established processes with ready-to-use sales-enabled content, you’ll save your rep’s time. Managers can focus on other parts of the sales process and spend fewer hours training or coaching over things that are repetitive and covered in the playbook.
Combining operational best practices with hardcore data will help highlight your sales leaders from the rest. You can then focus on moving the needle even higher. Juggle your sales team to reach higher levels by concentrating on activity-level statistics.
Better identify the various skills of your top sales performers. Everyone can then examine the situation and come up with real instances that truly help each team member involved achieve excellent practices to obtain the same impressive results.
Creating a Sales Playbook
Follow the methods below to start building your sales playbook:
Examine Selling Points
You’ll need to identify your selling points and what works best for your organization. Figure out exactly what sets you apart from your competition. You want to make your clients aware of what is unique about your services or products.
Think about what your selling proposition is so you can better focus on your goals.
You’ll want to determine your target customers and create customer files that reveal personalities and other determining factors. If you need to sell something, you’ll need to understand what your buyer is seeking and their particular pain points.
When you draft scripts with specific processes your team members can easily follow them. They can also provide them to potential clients. The best sales playbook is a scalable foundation that holds all of your sales scripts. Include pipeline management practices along with explanations for all conceivable scenarios.
Everyone in your team should always remain united and work together like a well-oiled machine toward a common goal.
Any time your sales team contacts a potential client they should be prepared for any possible scenario, questions, or problems. Clients and buyers often request a proof, so a sales professional has to stay on their toes to provide them with the information needed to seal the deal. Case studies, references, testimonials, data, statistics, demos, trial versions, and more are all innovative ideas of the times to have on hand. You want to highlight the quality of your services and products and also build credibility.
Buyers and clients also enjoy testimonials. It puts their mind at ease when they see that others have purchased from you before and been happy with the translation.
Incentives & Bonuses
Your sales team is going to be eager to sell if they know what to expect and the perks provided. Let them know their attainable rewards. Transparency is always appreciated. Try to always ensure that your sales professionals strive to improve and get better with each new deal. They will make additional money and your organization will reap the benefits of increased sales.
Combine Marketing With Sales Targets
Joining marketing with sales targets helps you increase your sales. Use the content and blogging on your site to increase brand trust and reach potential buyers and clients. You want to focus on whatever techniques give you top-notch results.
The ultimate goal of any playbook is to take your business sales to the next level and beyond. Your sales team should keep track of information such as phone calls, emails, and texts sent every day. They should also track everything that is going on with the team members. The more information that you gather the better picture you will build of what has proven successful and what has fallen short.
Include your success tricks in your sales playbook so that everyone can benefit from the effective approach. Many times, the steps are completely repeatable with only a few little tweaks.
Variety should always be tracked such as the average purchase value, cost per acquisition, monthly sales growth, and more. With the information, you’ll gain insight into actual usage. You can then use them for future sales strategies and planning.
Consistency to Improve
Track the success of sales messaging so you can enhance the lead-to conversion rates and create better sales-ready messages.
Focus on noticeably clear core strategies and approaches that gain you the results you seek. You can slowly make messaging adjustments as needed so you stay on track and modern.
If you find that something is negatively impacting your sales, then it's time to get rid of it. You want to make purposeful judgments and then carry them through using a predetermined schedule.
Make note of everything so you can see what impacts the sales your team makes. If a slight change in a sales letter increases response, then you’ll want to make note of tweaks in your sales playbook.
When creating a sales playbook, you need to always have an open-door policy with your sales team and welcome input. Current ideas help your organization succeed.
Also, avoid giving up too early. If you implement a plan and it does not render results right away, then don’t just give up. Instead, stick with it for a while and see if the following weak things make a turn for the better.
Summary of Crucial Takeaways
In summary, we will take a closer look at a few crucial pointers:
- An effective sales playbook is a document that contains all of the techniques and methods of your sales team’s best practices. It is used for each member of your sales team.
- The sales playbook acts as a live document which means it can be updated and modified as needed to keep it current and relevant.
- A playbook lets you track the steps of your sales team.
- You’ll have a revealing and detailed process that works well for new hires.
- Testimonials, references, case studies, trial versions, and free samples are all great to include in the playbook.
- Always include helpful lead qualifying criteria.
- Utilize blogging and content to build brand awareness and trust.
- Track all metrics such as monthly sales growth, cost per acquisition, and average purchase value.
- Always make sure your sales playbook has been conditioned for long-term growth and is an effective high-impact sales process for your team.
Clearly, all organizations should take the time to draft a valuable sales playbook for 2022 and beyond. Businesses have become highly competitive so having a leading team of sales professionals with access to the latest tools is essential for future success.