Let’s begin with an imagination exercise. You’ve recently graduated from college (Go Lions!) and have been hired as a sales representative at a medium-sized B2B company. Your first solo meeting with a potential buyer fast approaches. (Yikes.)

Do you think it would help you to be able to watch a video of a sample sales presentation, where you could learn more about how your products solve real problems for clients? Or carefully review the evidence-based sales process that your company has developed?

Sure it would. And at many companies, you could simply log on to web-based a sales playbook that contains these and other sales tools.


OK, but what exactly is a B2B sales playbook?

A sales playbook is a collection of materials that serves to identify your company’s sales process and methodology, outline sales objectives, and provide a framework for closing sales.

If this were the year 2000, a B2B sales playbook might be a collection of materials gathered into a binder that sits on a high shelf in a training room. But this is 2018, which means that the Millennials who are entering the workforce learn best from watching video, and expect to be able to access training materials on their smartphones.

So, a typical B2B sales playbook today is likely to be housed in the cloud and internally managed, though there are companies that help you refine your processes and develop your sales playbooks.

An Internet-based sales playbook makes it easier to continually update and offers more ways for new sales team members to learn, including articles, videos, interactive checklists, and quizzes.

What is inside a B2B sales playbook?

Naturally, each company will make decisions as to what to include in their B2B sales playbook, though there are common elements:

  • A sales presentation, either a detailed plan or a video, which models how to speak about the client’s issues and how your product or service offers solutions. Sales reps can use this presentation as a template in creating their client-based presentations.
  • A clear, comprehensive client profile for each product/service you offer, answering this important question: Who needs our product or service and why?
  • A stakeholder map that profiles the stakeholders that surround the typical buyers. According to the Harvard Business Review, there was an average of 5.4 people involved in a B2B solutions purchase in 2015, but this number has risen to 6.8 in 2017.
  • Interactive checklists and scoring guides that help the seller identify true selling opportunities by zeroing in on qualifying questions like “Has the client secured funding for this project” and “Do you have the trust of the client’s executives?”
  • A list of common objections the sales rep is likely to hear in the buying process and the responses to help overcome those.
  • It is not unusual for buyers operating in a corporate environment that demands keeping costs low to opt out of making a major purchase. Educate your sales reps on how to calculate the cost of inaction for these buyers, using the calculator provided in your B2B sales playbook.
  • The sales process, clearly laid out, explained, and current.
  • A set of accurate milestones in the process that let sales rep realistically judge where the buyer is in their buying process: A sales rep can use these milestones to help them judge where they should be in their selling process (opportunity management).
  • A useful analysis of the competition that clearly shows how your company stacks up to the competition, in detail.

Your B2B sales playbook should be the central resource for your sales team.

Your B2B sales playbook might not include some of the elements listed above, and it may include others that are unlisted. Let’s wrap up with a few more reasons why you should develop a credible, authoritative, easy-to-access, and portable sales playbook:

  • CEB cites surveys where 65% of buyers report that the buying process usually takes much longer than they had planned; in fact, it takes them as long to prepare for contacting the first sales rep than they had thought the entire purchase would take.
  • Buyers want sales reps who know their stuff, who can guide them through the purchasing process: A sales playbook helps the sales rep to do just that.
  • Your sales representatives deserve to be set up for success, to be provided with the information and models that they need to excel in their work, in an easily accessed format.

Creating an outstanding B2B sales playbook means investing time and money, but consider the increase in revenue from more deals won with it, and the lost opportunities you could have won had an effective sales playbook been in place.