There’s no single, standard template for designing a sales playbook. You have to consider a laundry list of factors like the size of the deal and the product’s complexity. Do you have a good understanding of the need for the company’s product in the marketplace? What’s the competitive intensity in the market? And also, what’s the complexity of decision making for the customer? These are some factors that will influence your company’s overall strategy for sales on how it will pursue bookings growth.
Some of the questions in the sales strategy will include:
- Should our sales team be split up between hunters (going after new accounts) and farmers (selling into existing accounts)?
- Is it wise to invest heavily in marketing, generating inbound leads or focus on outbound prospecting?
- What resources will our sales team need to be successful? Will we need sales engineers, business development reps, solution architects, marketing collateral, etc.?
- How long is each stage of our sales funnel? How will it vary by account size?
- What profile of rep should we have at each size or type of prospect?
- Does the sales process vary when selling in multiple industries or geographies?
There are additional factors that will help determine the sales strategy. The output of the sales strategy should be what we refer to as “Go-To-Market on a Page”. Major segments that the company is going after align to the top of the page. Underneath each segment, the page summarizes the following major components:
- Customer profile
- Buying decision maker
- New logo TAM
- Primary competition
- Value proposition
- Lead product offering
- Additional products and options
- Primary strategy
- % sales qualified opportunities that are marketing sources
- Sales model (inside, inside/field, enterprise field)
- Territory arrangement
- Sales process and tools
- Sales velocity
- Sales reps (number and quota)
- Sales support resources
- Sales costs
- Customer lifetime value/customer acquisition cost (today and future)
Once the proper sales strategy is in place, we have a better focus on what we’re trying to accomplish. How we’ll execute this strategy has yet to be decided at this point. That’s why writing a sales playbook is so crucial—it allows us to create the blueprint that sales reps follow to drive the sales process. The sales strategy will dictate the content and structure of the playbook.
Below is an example of a tech-enabled services business—it sold enterprise deals against each of the 12 steps in its sales process.
That’s why writing a sales playbook is so crucial—it allows us to create the blueprint that sales reps follow to drive the sales process.
Building Your Sales Playbook
1. DETERMINE THE NEXT TARGET TO BACKFILL THE FUNNEL
This focuses on leveraging the work from the customer and prospect database as well as account targeting. This information helps the rep decide how to fill the top of the funnel while using weekly sales coaching to map out the next week’s strategy as deals close. Mapping the resources required by type of opportunity allows the rep to add accounts to the funnel that are a balance of deals—some are larger with longer cycles and some are more mid-sized with shorter sales cycles.
2. RESEARCH THE TARGET
Knowing the target prior to outreach is key to all sales, but particularly enterprise sales. The amount of research needed depends on the scope of the deal. It’s typically an hour of a rep’s investment but can increase from two to over ten hours. Initial research focuses on verifying a new target and compiling generic target information while mapping location and competitive dynamics. Understanding the key stakeholders and any pre-existing relationships within the company will also inform the next steps.
3. DETERMINE HOW TO APPROACH THE TARGET
As a follow-up to research, the rep should determine his or her approach based on these factors:
- Type of opportunity
- Geographic setting
- Number and type of products the company can offer
- Complexity of the sales situation
- Strategic importance of the account
- Potential competitors that may be present
This approach will help determine the maximum amount of effort to put into the deal upfront, the third-party help that may be required and the timeline the rep can expect to follow.
4. GAIN ACCESS TO THE TARGET
Typical touchpoints will be mapped out according to:
- Account type
- Tactics to use (what to focus on and how)
- Company resources that should be leveraged for access
The rep also gains insight on varying tactics from cold call to warm introductions and through leadership based on the opportunity’s scope. This section will provide email and call scripts for initial outreach and follow-up cadences on how to successfully breakthrough to the key stakeholders.
5. INTRODUCE OUR VALUE PROPOSITION AND PRODUCTS
This contains the value proposition of the company’s offering to the end customers and how the products deliver against that value proposition.Resources provided in this section include:
- Elevator pitch
- Marketing materials
- Thought leadership materials
- Client references
- Success stories
- Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis
- Battlecards against possible competitors
6. ASSESS THE NEEDS AND VALIDATE THE OPPORTUNITY
Reps are introduced to battlecards by customer needs or company products. This helps them ask the key discovery questions allowing them to put forward an effective solution to positively impact the customer.
7. CRAFT SOLUTION AND VERIFY VALUE TO THE CLIENT
The rep should be able to put together a solution to the customer that feels tailored but not custom based on:
- Discovery questions
- Past experiences
- Input from the company’s subject matter experts
- Pricing guidelines
- Marketing case studies
An ROI worksheet and a Total Cost of Ownership analysis may be included for some companies to further demonstrate the value of the product for the customer once implemented.
8. SUBMIT THE PROPOSAL TO THE CLIENT AND FOLLOW UP
These final steps are critical—many reps lose sight of the importance of driving to close in the playbook.This section can highlight:
- Who submits the proposal
- How it is submitted
- How to follow up and when
- Other tasks that are managed internally
9. NEGOTIATE THE CONTRACT AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
Once the negotiation is in progress, the rep should drive to receive a verbal “yes”. Classic sales training and role-playing are the best ways to internalize this. The playbook can include common, objective handling to help the rep. Moving the conversation to implementation plans at this stage includes a presumptive close of the sales by the rep.
10. REQUEST THE CONTRACT AND FINANCIAL APPROVAL
The rep transitions from proposal to contract while helping ensure the financial approvals are in place internally for the customer. A combination of earlier stakeholder management in the finance department and tactics will help drive success.
11. GET THE FINAL SIGNATURE
Getting the signed contract is critical. Tactics to help the rep support the company in its approval process will allow the rep to ensure he or she isn’t simply waiting for the signature.
12. HOLD THE IMPLEMENTATION KICKOFF
The transition from sales to implementation is crucial. It should always be a part of the sales playbook. This helps the sales rep feel ownership for getting the customer successfully live and setting the right expectations in the sales process.
There’s no denying that strategy and sales are inherently linked. Determining your strategy and crafting your “Go-To-Market on a Page” will enable you to know what we’re executing against. For each segment, it’s key to craft a sales playbook that explains the tactics of execution for the sales reps. These will vary by company and segment but will have a lot in common within similar industries, the size of the deal and the type of product.