Driving success from Sales Enablement investments

Structuring a Sales Playbook

Robin Griffiths

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 playbooks that sales people 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 ask and say to a customer should always change 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’?

Robin Griffiths

Robin’s background includes Director of Projects at industrial group Birmid Qualcast and Founder and Director of Cambridge Consulting Engineers. Robin went on to start Force12 Software and led the company for 6 years; securing $5m in venture capital funding and establishing operations in the USA and Europe. Robin left Force12 in early 2004 to found BPM Works.

Robin is an expert in insight-based selling and messaging development. He has developed programs for some of the world’s leading companies to equip sales people with the knowledge they need on customers and propositions to be more successful.

Robin has a First Class Honors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from King’s College London and a Masters Degree from Glasgow University.

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