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How to Structure a Sales Playbook

Part 7 of Driving Success from Sales Enablement Investments Blog Series

There’s a lot talk right now about sales playbooks, but how do you structure a playbook and what sort of content should you include?

I can only talk from the perspective of the playbooks that salespeople use as they actually work a deal from qualification to close (e.g. guiding sales people to do the right thing, have better conversations, and access the right materials at each step of the sales process).

Here are some recommendations based on my experience of building this type of sales tool over the last 15 years.


Section Structure

If you want your sales playbook to be the ‘go to resource’ for sales people as they work deals, structure the sections of the playbook around the main stages in the sales process followed at your company.

This makes it easy for a sales person to dive into the playbook and immediately find the relevant insights, guidance and messages for the point in the sales process they are at, for the opportunity they are currently pursuing.


Market Segments and Personas

One of the biggest questions you’ll have to ask yourself is, do I need separate playbooks for the different markets (e.g. industry verticals) we sell into?

If you have sales teams organized around market segments, then the answer will undoubtedly be yes.

If the customer insights, questions to ask, value propositions and sales messages vary markedly by segment, then you will either have to produce separate playbooks or organize content broken down by market in tables on the pages.

What you say to a customer should always vary depending on the buyer role (i.e. persona), so you will also need to set out insights and messages by persona.


Content Elements

What you actually present on the pages of the playbook will obviously vary widely depending on the type of products and services you sell and the markets you serve.

Nevertheless, for selling solutions B2B there are some common elements you’ll want to consider for inclusion at the relevant stage in the sales process, as outlined below.

Get Ready / Prospecting (before the sales process starts)

  • Market context and drivers (insights into what’s going on in customer markets that could drive good initial sales conversations)
  • Segments (descriptions of the companies the proposition targets and the characteristics of a good prospect)
  • Personas (descriptions of the personas sales people need to engage with to sell the proposition)
  • Pre-call preparation checklist

Stage 1: Appointment / Qualification

  • Conversation openers
  • Questions for initial probe
  • Elevator pitch(es)
  • Pillars of the proposition
  • Links to relevant tools (for this step in the sales process)

Stage 2: Needs Discovery

  • Discovery checklist
  • Customer research ideas (tips on where to look to find out customer goals, strategy, etc.)
  • Business issues and impacts (typical challenges / opportunities different types of companies and personas face)
  • Needs discovery questions
  • Links to relevant tools

Stage 3: Solution and Demo

  • Customer challenges mapped to proposition capabilities and value
  • Demo checklist
  • Trial checklist
  • Relevant materials

Stage 4: Proposal and Negotiation

  • Top points of differentiation
  • Corporate credentials
  • Competitor knock-out conversations
  • Objection handling
  • Proposal checklist
  • Relevant materials

In my next blog I’m going to take a look at the hot topic of ‘What should be included in the Sales Enablement function’?

In the meantime, check out my other posts from this series:

Part 1 – Making Content Discoverable

Part 2 – Moving from Sales Documents to a Database of Selling Knowledge

Part 3 – Is Learning the Key to Effective Guided Selling

Part 4 – Digital Tools for Effective Call and Meeting Preparation

Part 5 – A New Dawn for Sales Coaching

Part 6 – Sales Presentations: How Much Control Should Marketing Give?

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