A sales playbook sounds like a great idea — capture the best practices and most important content for your selling process to turn every rep into a closing machine. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Too many sales playbooks rest comfortably on a shelf, gathering dust, while reps use whatever content they’ve managed to pull together. What does it take to create a playbook that is a valuable tool for closing deals? We’ve found that there are five keys to making a playbook that works.
1. Target the Content
In the modern selling environment, content is the lifeblood of the sales process. You use it to intrigue and interest your potential customer and to answer all of their many questions. So, you need to have a lot of content — but for any given sale and at any given stage of the sales process, only a small set of things apply. If you have a rep in the prospect stage who is pitching a German telco, they shouldn’t have to wade through hundreds of irrelevant documents to find the content they are most likely to need. A great playbook knows about the opportunity. It knows the stage of the sales process you are in. It knows what your role is. It knows the industry, the company size — whatever is really important in your business to choose the best content. And then the playbook highlights just what applies to that opportunity at that stage of the process. Every rep should have at their fingertips just the content they need for every step in the buyer’s journey.
2. Close the Loop With Scoring and Analytics
Some of your content is great and on-target. Reps can use it to pitch effectively, and customers get their questions answered. Some of it isn’t. Do you know which is which? Your playbook should. By tracking the way your content is landing — when and how sales is using it, and what’s been used to engage customers on the path to deals that win — a playbook is constantly watching and learning from what happens in the real world. With the data, it scores the content to help reps find what’s most effective. Marketing and sales gets the information they need to hone and optimize the playbook.
3. Keep It Tight
Most companies we talk to are drowning in content. They have hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of documents stored all over the place. A lot of it is out-of-date or flat-out wrong. Even if you just include the good stuff, there is far too much of it. It’s tempting to throw in anything that looks good. But that’s how you get a kitchen-sink playbook, putting reps right back where they were before — “I know it’s probably in there somewhere, but I don’t have time to find it.” When reps are in the middle of a tough selling conversation, the last thing they want to do is to dig through piles of content that might be relevant. A great playbook has been edited down to just those top items that are proven. And you have to keep the content fresh — when a new product is released, or a new competitor is hitting you in the market, you need to get the right information into the hands of the reps on the front lines immediately.
4. Pair It With A Sales Content Management
If you’ve got a highly targeted and curated playbook, you’ve honed it down to the essentials. But during the sales process, that’s not going to handle every situation. With the vast array of online information available, customers will come up with all kinds of tough questions that reps need to answer. Most people don’t need that performance study of how the product functions under heavy load, but the customer who needs it needs it badly. So, you have to combine your playbook with sales content management where sellers can go and get everything else that they might need. That platform should offer great search, powerful browsing tools, and should be easily customized for the seller’s role.
5. Put Content Where the Reps Live
You’ve spent a lot of time and energy setting up your CRM system. The content that your sellers need should be instantly available when they are working on an opportunity. A great playbook shouldn’t be some PDF file they got at a training program or a content repository on the web with a URL they can’t remember. Those are the playbooks that don’t get used. A great playbook puts the content right in front of them in the environment where they live. Playbooks can be a huge asset for your sales team. They can make sure that everyone has the best content, instantly available, at every stage of the sales cycle. That’s a playbook that reps will use every day to drive revenue, not one they’ll use to prop up their monitors.
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