Skip to main content

Creating a Sales Playbook: 5 Must-Haves

creating a sales playbook

The whole point of creating a sales playbook is to give your sales team “situational sales tools” that make them highly effective in every part of the sales process. The end game is shorter sales cycles where your products and services are the clear choice.

What is a Sales Playbook?

A sales playbook is a collection of sales tools that help salespeople usher buyers through the sales process with simplicity and greater credibility. The goal of the sales playbook is to make your organization easier to work with and convince buyers you understand them better than the competition, all in the interest of improving your win rates.

Why Do You Need a Sales Playbook?

There a handful of common situations salespeople encounter with every buyer. A sales playbook is a critical instrument in establishing a higher level of consistency in your sales process and it brings greater predictability to each step. 

Equally important to consistency is the ramp-up time for new salespeople. The sales playbook contains key tools that bring new salespeople up to speed faster so they can produce in a shorter timeframe.

Five Staples Every Sales Playbook Must Have 

This is not an all-inclusive list by any stretch, but no sales playbook should be without these five things. 

1. Not Your Typical Product Overview

Product overviews are part of every sales playbook. That’s a no-brainer. The problem with most product overviews is they’re not simple because they were designed to be informational for buyers. Unfortunately, they require salespeople to learn too much about WHAT the product does versus WHY buyers want it.

Here’s the first and most common scenario salespeople walk into. “Can you give me an overview of Product X?”  Unfortunately, the answer is usually a description of WHAT the product does with little or no value context around WHY it’s valuable strategically to the buyer. 

There’s a short and simple script for salespeople. It’s a 1-pager with a headline and a few scenarios that require little to no product knowledge to answer the question.

2. The Qualification Scorecard

The goal of a qualification scorecard is to eliminate blind spots in the sales process and give salespeople an objective way to measure the likelihood of winning each deal, or more importantly, if they should even pursue an opportunity. There are two parts to the qualification scorecard.

Qualifying the Opportunity.

Qualifying the opportunity is usually something that comes from your sales methodology and focuses on things like budget, compelling events, approval process and building relationships with the right influencers and decision-makers.

Unfortunately, most sales methodologies only give salespeople the equivalent of a high-level checklist. What they don’t do is give salespeople any actionable insights on that checklist that tell them exactly what’s required to win and assess their odds.

Qualifying the need.

Qualifying the need is about getting answers to the WHAT & WHY questions as it relates to the business needs behind the product investment. It’s not your typical discovery process though. It’s more focused on customer outcomes and why they’re important versus the typical focus on user problems.

The qualification scorecard is a simple 1-pager spreadsheet with a 3-point scoring system that gives salespeople an accurate read on their opportunities and where to focus their efforts going forward on the most winnable opportunities. It also tells them which opportunities they probably shouldn’t waste time pursuing because the odds are stacked against them.

3. Outcome-Based Competitive Analysis.

It’s not a feature comparison. The goal of outcome-based competitive comparisons is to frame your advantages situationally. Those situations make it easier to highlight how and why your solutions give the buyer superior outcomes in the most critical situations. It’s a 1-page battlecard! 

4. The Script for Scheduling & Facilitating Discovery Meetings

The issue with most discovery meetings is they’re not a conversation. Buyers put up a wall and salespeople ask too many questions, many of them closed-ended.

The simple solution to a great discovery meeting is to set the agenda so that buyers are talking about things in their comfort zone. Think of it as therapy for the buyers and you get exactly what you need to position strategic value to executives as well as operational value to users down in the trenches.

Here’s the thing about the initial discovery meeting. You’re ultimately trying to find out WHY the issues your product addresses have suddenly become important enough for the buyer to make a significant investment.

Perhaps you should just have your buyers start the discovery meeting by answering that question!

Most salespeople spend too much time in the initial part of the discovery process validating the buyer’s problems and how well they match up to your products. While that’s important, it more important early on to find out why they’re evaluating products like yours in the first place, THE BIG WHY! It’s the key to gaining competitive leverage.

5. Follow-up Email Scripts

After a discovery call, a demo or any other meeting, it’s always a good idea for salespeople to recap the meeting in a simple and concise manner without coming across as pushy. 

There are 3-5 components that sum up any meeting in a way that boosts your credibility and drives the sales process to the next steps.

Sales Playbook Success: Keeping It Simple!

Treat your sales playbook like a product. Your target market is the salesforce. You know what they’re trying to accomplish. You know their biggest obstacles and why they occur, and you know how they’re measured. Create a playbook accordingly.

There are many things that can go into a sales playbook. As you scope your playbook, keep in mind that salespeople take a “path of least resistance” approach. Map out your sales process and consider the top 1-3 assets salespeople need to get from each stage to the next. 

Your sales playbook will be simpler, smaller and far more effective in helping salespeople drive the process to a close.

Click here if you want to experience the easiest way to learn product management, product marketing, pre-sales demos and customer success with our unique hands-on learning format. Be sure to check out our Product Management Framework that simplifies everything by making customer outcomes the starting point for building, marketing, selling and delivering strategic value.

You Might Also Like:

by John Mansour on March 21, 2023.