Use a Sales Playbook to Increase Sales Win Rates by Double Digits
- Sales advice tends to be vague and arbitrary. Sales plays sourced from research produce evidence-based Best Practices that shift advice from opinion or guess work to data driven and fact-based recommendations that are precise, prescriptive and predictive.
- Top producers have an innate ability to apply proven selling strategies for repeatable results. However, strategies solidified in a Sales Playbook are needed to replicate that success to the rest of the sales force. These roadmaps provide clear guidance to systemically streamline and automate successful actions that lead to predictable results.
- When the right play is delivered to the salesperson at just the right time, it improves their performance and saves time.
Research performed for the Sales Excellence Report found that the Best-in-Class performance archetype used a sales playbook 2-times more frequently than their lower performing piers.
The research data shows two things.
First, those who use these instructional guides achieve much better performance measures in the areas of year over year revenue growth, annual revenue target achievement, salesforce quota attainment and sale opportunity win rates.
And second, the data show this is a significantly underutilized selling tool. The adoption gaps between laggards, medians and the Best-in-Class cohorts are statistically significant. This point should not be lost on any sales leader not yet benefiting from these assets.
Start with Science-based Recommendations
Recommendations without supporting data are just opinions.
The best playbooks are born from research and field validation. They show what the top producers do differently than their lower performing peers. And how they do it.
They include insights based on analysis. They include benchmarks to show what good looks like. They are data driven and can extrapolate data to forecast results.
For sales leaders looking for revenue growth, they change the question from "What can you do to improve results?", to "What should you do?" based on prioritizing the methods and best practices that deliver the biggest impact.
What's a Playbook?
A Sales Playbook is a book of sales plays. Simple enough. So, what precisely is a sales play?
Well, sales plays deliver prescriptive guidance, instruction and recommendations at exactly the point where they can be applied to achieve a defined business outcome. They are not pie in the sky suggestions. They are specific execution instructions that are proven to achieve specific results.
Many times, these plays are operational execution plans with sequenced activities, progress milestones, phase gates, benchmarks, performance metrics and exit criteria. Other times they are brief but pointed recommendations such as a next best action.
When progress incurs delays or variances, plays may display remediation steps or course corrections. They are like roadmaps that sequence the necessary tasks to achieve a goal in a predictable way.
They include things like how to apply a sale methodology to improve your opportunity win plan. Or how to proactively use a repeatable sales process to lead a prospect through each step of the sales cycle and convert them into a customer. Or how to use strategic account management to increase up-sell, cross-sale, customer lifetime value or increased customer share.
The top goals for most playbooks include the following:
- Replicate the actions and behaviors of the top producers so the entire team can improve performance. Some sales managers call this shifting the bell curve to the right.
- Increase performance and save time. The sequence of these two activities is important. Effectiveness first, efficiency second.
- Help sellers transform vague or complex activities, events and processes into simple, understandable, repeatable and orchestrated actions that deliver prescribed outcomes.
- Reinforce sales best practices and proactively respond to unexpected or external events. For example, when a customer stakeholder or your coach depart the company while pursuing an opportunity, a sales play will recommend how to proceed.
Experience show that selling plays are most often needed when incurring any one of the following conditions.
- You need to jumpstart a new go-to-market plan by integrating sales actions into operations.
- When too much selling inconsistency is hampering performance and revenue results.
- When you need to make revenue generation more systemic, visible and predictable.
- When you need to scale your sales organization.
- When you need to shift from reactive and inconsistent buyer responses to proactive and predictive event-driven guidance that suggests the optimal activities and engagement.
An Implementation Approach
An implementation follows a 3-step process.
Prioritization and Sequence
Start by determining which selling plays are most needed and will deliver the biggest impact.
Below are the top 9 sales transformation methods based on the most recent Sales Excellence research. Because of their high revenue impact, they are strong candidates. Even small improvements to any one of these methods will deliver significant revenue gains.
Develop or Acquire the Plays
Most sellers pursue strategic sales processes but think tactically. Plays should deliver tactical support. They should specify when to be used and deliver simple, visual, illustrative instructions.
Some CRM systems such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 have play book functionality. Other CRM systems offer third party solutions. If your CRM system does not offer either of these capabilities, it's not hard to create the capability yourself using custom entities or objects.
Automate with CRM
Integrate the plays with CRM software automation.
Most playbooks don't work because they don't get used. They will only get used when they increase salesperson performance (effectiveness) or save time (efficiency). Otherwise, they will just become shelfware.
Even with training, static play books fizzle out after several days. To be successful you need to operationalize the guide, make it experiential and enable sellers to get the benefits without the effort.
What's needed is a change from a static document that gets reviewed once, relegated to a drawer and never referred to again, to a data-driven, dynamically delivered, interactive solution.
A push rather than a pull delivery model is needed to automatically deliver the right play to the right person at the right time. That means plays must be designed with configurable rules, workflow tools or AI to identify the specific conditions and events (i.e., the triggers) that push a play to a seller exactly when it can be used.