What Is A Sales Playbook?

A Sales Playbook is the engineering and development of better sales processes. This is a team driven approach where the Sales Playbook is designed to make business development efforts more productive. The Playbook is often highly detailed with specific instructions to follow.

The Sales Playbook are also a living document that defines the strategy and goals to achieve a success. They can and do evolve over time. In it includes detailed description of the products and services your organization offers, group exercises, and relevant content like links to websites, client lists, etc.

There are also instructions for improvements, tools and resources to essentially be handed to a new hire to review on their first day on the job. Think of the Playbook as new staff orientations for those in business development.

Also included are written out coaching and techniques unique to your environment so you can Turn No Into Yes! When a playbook is well written, has clear instructions, etc. and if the sales representative has the aptitude for the job, they should be successful very quickly.

Why The Need For A Sales Playbook?


If you surveyed CEO’s and VP of Business Development chances are that training, and development are keys to reaching their sales quotas. Training a new hire is time-consuming. Playbooks are a coaching tool intended to get workers up to speed quickly, and defines the company culture. Sales Playbooks save everyone time and cuts down on confusion. Everyone knows their roles and if you stick to the plan, the sales program runs itself.

Even the best sales representative needs guidance and development from time to time. Then are those in sales with less experience who find it difficult to learn the ropes when there is no instructional manual. They are sent out into the world woefully unprepared expecting to close deals right out of the gate. Some of us are successful right out of the gate but most need help. That’s where the Sales Playbook is most effective.

They are repeatable and actionable steps that have been proven to close deals. If you stick with the script and have the aptitude to sell, then it works. If what you are doing is not working, then you make adjustments. You memorize the steps involved and know from experience what does not work. That’s essentially why a Playbook is necessary. A good sales representative has mental playbooks already. The key though is sharing that information or institutional knowledge so that the organization nets more sales.

Creation of the Playbook can help to change the company culture by following a uniform strategy. By stepping back and defining goals and providing a roadmap, an organization change their business processes, systems (CRM, etc.) and internal staffing structure in one swoop.

I Know From Personal Experience

First off, I have written several Playbooks. I know they work and I have seen the results. When I have written Playbooks for the companies I worked for, in some instances I would come in and would be the first hire for business development. I eventually wrote a Playbook because I easily forget things. I have gotten so comfortable abiding by Playbooks that I won’t go into an organization with at least some concept or plan for battle.

ranking-leadsBut let me back up a minute. I feel that the need for the Sales Playbook, is to help newbies be professional and treat everyone with respect. Sometimes I hear such horror stories about how the prospect was treated or misled by a competitor when evaluating their product or services. This makes my job even harder because when I met with the same prospect, after my competitors met with them, I am treated with caution.

The prospect may assume that meeting with me might be an uncomfortable “buy now!” experience. After the meeting, the feedback I receive was positive. I need to have all members of our sales team have a positive experience and by following the Playbook, this ensure uniformity in our approach.

I close a lot of business simply because I observe the Golden Rule: Treat others and you would want to be treated. I am respectful and honest with my prospects. I learned this through years of experience. Whenever I am bringing on additional members to the sales team the first thing they will read and understand is the Golden Rule. I want to start them off right. I wished all our competitors in our industry would follow a Playbook.

Advice For Creating a Successful Playbook

  • Do not make it too overly instructional. I always hate it when a boss, who has had some early success selling the product or service, tells you do only do it their way. Everyone in business development has their own style and their approach to developing deals. The Playbook needs to be a flexible document, or more of staying in between the lines.
  • Avoid industry speak in the Playbook. Keep in mind the Playbook is relevant mostly for new hires. They may not yet know the jargon just yet. Further, one of the sections of the Playbook should include a FAQ section and also common industry acronyms. In a couple of the playbooks I have written I even included buyer personas and explained the job function of ideal target prospects.
  • The Playbook is the law of the land. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s! The Playbook should also include the job description for every member of the business development team (appendix is fine) and their corresponding goals and objectives. The Playbook should be considered the judge, jury and executioner. Keep in mind that since the business development team creates and periodically reviews the Playbook together, it’s not like anyone won’t have input.
  • Playbooks require significant collaboration/alignment/change of culture and drive major productivity of the sales team. Playbooks require sales representatives to actively contribute and offer their own experiences to enhance the foundation of the playbook. Sales playbooks are highly specific documentation that tells the salesperson what to do when and how to do it and why it is being done.
  • Review it periodically. You should get in the habit of scheduling a review ever quarter or at the very least twice a year. This is an opportunity to review of your sales team’s processes, strategies, and what is working. This is a group driven effort where the sales and marketing team has a chance to bond and develop ways to be highly successful as a team. The review is also an opportunity to improve team communications and work out any issues.

Experience Counts

project-management-keyConsider outsourcing the management of the Playbook as a new project. If your organization is concerned about employee buy-in, fairness, or has doubts about launching the Playbook, then bring in someone to manage the project. You could hire me, I have written several playbooks and have the steps memorized. I know what works and what doesn’t. If not me, than do your research, but make sure that your solution is not necessarily “coaching” or “training” in a one-day seminar. There are firms that can do this as well as the coaching and or training as part of the process.