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Building a Playbook- Part-1

sales playbooks and sales enablment go hand in hand
Sales playbooks play a key role in sales enablement success
Are you thinking about creating a sales playbook?  Collecting all your collateral and getting ready to put it into a playbook?  Wait a second.

That’s the last step, not the first.
The goal of a sales playbook is to enable sales to sell better.  Giving them a big box of possible collateral isn’t going to enable anyone to sell anything better. It’s just going to waste their time.  The sales playbook is a guide to how to sell in each situation and during each phase of the sales funnel.

Creating a sales playbook is a project that entails conducting a critical analysis of your entire sales process. This involves a reflective and detailed evaluation , but it is necessary if you want to enable sales using the playbook concept.

So what is involved? The first step to creating an amazing playbook is to define your sales process clearly. You need to define your target audience. What are all the personas that you focus on? If you want to help your salespeople sell, you need to provide them a clear picture of your customers—your key buyer personas. Who are your ideal buyers? What are their core challenges or pain points? What kind of questions do your buyers typically ask at each stage of the sales cycle? In order to answer these questions successfully, you need to have a complete, 360-degree view of your prospects that allows you to study their actions over a period of time. This helps you identify buyer behavioral patterns.

Also, you will need to identify the buying stages that your prospects typically pass through before making a purchase, the various triggers that you use to define those stages, and the many ways in which you keep your prospect engaged at each of those stages. Also, you need to identify if these stages differ depending on the specific buyer persona. This will be important in building the most effective playbooks. 

Next blog….connecting assets to the buying stages.

A GPS for the Sales Staff

Is sales purely an art? A person is either good at it, or isn't. There are personal aspects to it that are more art than science, of course, but it is possible to identify best practices for each of your products and each of your buyer personas. This is something we strongly advocate you begin to do, if you haven't already. If you’re going to move revenues to a higher level, it is crucial that you begin to do this. Simply relying on the best judgement of each salesperson isn't enough, as you probably have already identified. Too often, sales is neglected, with each new hire left to fend for themselves, learning primarily through trial and error.

That’s not a good idea. Instead, identify all your buyer personas, and products, and then create a set of metrics that can evaluate what practices help push prospects through the sales funnel, and lead to a sale. The practice will lead to better sales and is at the heart of the newer concept of a “sales playbook.” Sales playbooks have a key role to play in enabling your salespeople. An ideal playbook offers all the information that a salesperson needs to have and share with the prospect when making a sales call.

A sales playbook is a systematic organization of all marketing and sales assets that salespeople need when interacting with their prospects throughout the buyer’s journey. A playbook maps each sales asset to the buyer’s position in the sales cycle. A good sales playbook is like a GPS: it provides the clear directions your salespeople need to reach their ultimate destination—closing a lead.

However, many companies mistake the sales playbook for an asset dump—a folder in the cloud where all the marketing and sales collateral ever created are dumped and shared with the salespeople. It is then left up to the sales team to pick the best asset to share with the prospect as they deem appropriate. Is it a surprise then that their playbooks fail? Effective sales playbooks spell out directions clearly and are designed to help your sales reps get the most out of any situation and be entirely self-reliant. They contain all the assets your salespeople need for each step in the sales process and are scalable, repeatable and dynamic. Playbooks tell your salespeople exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.

You wouldn’t leave on a long trip without a roadmap or a GPS, so why send your sales staff out with no directions?

Is the average sales rep ready for a change?

The much talked about Forrester report on ‘death of a salesperson’ had me intrigued.
The report predicted that by 2020, the B2B salesperson will be on the verge of extinction. As a sales enablement company, we had reasons to be worried.
Much as the report is right about the shrinking role of the salesperson, I wouldn’t entirely agree on the disappearance of the salesperson altogether. It is more like the death of the salesperson as we know today, hinting at the rebirth of a new salesperson with reformed roles and responsibilities. The average salesperson’s contribution to the buyer’s journey is undergoing a radical transformation. Traditionally, the sales rep engaged with buyers through cold calls or direct interactions at events and seminars. Today, many firms believe that the sales reps’ role emerges only towards the end of the buying cycle. Involvement of the salesperson comes at the mercy of the buyer, or so it appears. I believe organizations who think like this are wrong.
A well planned and executed sales strategy keeps sales reps at the core of the entire buying cycle, yes even today. The B2B buyer treads carefully throughout the buying cycle, weighing her decisions at every step. That however should not be a deterrent for activity by salespeople.
One of the reasons buyers don’t want to involve sales reps is due to reps being perceived as more promotional than empathic. They don’t want a rep who pushes, but are looking for someone who is genuinely interested in helping them make the right choice for their organizations.
Start with the basics. Identify the market that you want to cater to and track only willing prospects. A robust prospect tracking system allows you to track prospect activity across the wide spectrum of the internet- from emails, to website to social media. Marketing and sales teams need to pin down the prospects who can relate to your product. Keep the top of your sales funnel pure. Indulge these prospects with highly useful content from time to time. Keeping your sales rep involved from the first step gives a twofold advantage - 1. Reps are sentient to the needs of the buyer and can easily play the role of a “buying guide” instead of a pushy sales rep; 2. Roles for marketing and sales teams are better defined.
Apart from the basics, training your reps to survive the revolution will help everyone. Let your reps come to terms with new age technologies for connecting and selling to people. Make extensive training material, personalized sales assets and modern notification systems available to them. Though sales reps don’t have a reputation for challenging the status quo, they have made phenomenal transitions from time to time, from door-to-door selling to cold calling to handling CRM systems effectively. They have adopted, incorporated and blended newer methods into their traditional styles. They’ll brave this one too, because that is where success will be.