Sales playbooks are a modern approach to training salespeople and managers in a digital world. They provide the content, tools and training for a salesperson or sales manager to be successful in their specific roles in the company. The best playbooks are useful across any scenario, from a new salesperson who’s trying to get up to speed to a seasoned salesperson who needs the latest, greatest message to a channel partner who forgot how your company differentiates itself from a key competitor.

Salespeople often leave a classroom or online training retaining only a small amount of what they learned, and they may or may not ever return to the source material again. With playbooks, salespeople have a companion tool during training and a reference guide after training, so that what they’re learning stays right in front of them and is accessible, sales-friendly and intuitive.

Playbooks should be practical, focused on what salespeople need to do today to do their job well. A sales playbook should not be an exhaustive description of product capabilities. Busy salespeople need content tools that provide training just in time for a specific selling scenario, not a detailed manual.

Who owns the responsibility for enabling salespeople to lead the right conversations with the right customer audiences in the right accounts? More and more, the sales enablement team has a stake in delivering sales playbooks. Much of the insight and content for sales playbooks comes from marketing, product and sales. Read below for common owners by type of sales playbook.

Sales Messaging Playbook

What is it? A sales messaging playbook focuses on preparing salespeople to lead a compelling conversation based on a specific selling scenario. For example, the specific selling scenario may be an early-stage conversation with an enterprise account positioning the company story and an integrated solution approach. Or, it might be an expansion conversation with a current customer focused on a new business unit and a new product area.

Who owns it? Sales messaging playbooks are primarily funded by the marketing team, the sales enablement team or both. (Depending on the company, “sales enablement” could be called “sales readiness,” “sales effectiveness” or “sales excellence,” or it could be wrapped up in sales training.)

Sales Coaching Playbook

What is it? A coaching playbook provides everything a first-line sales manager needs to drive the highest levels of performance possible: the content, tools and training to help their salespeople in every scenario, like preparing for a business plan review or deal strategy review or helping a salesperson “get unstuck” in an opportunity. A sales coaching playbook is for managers who are still operating as “super reps” instead of as effective leaders. The coaching playbook shows them how to coach their salespeople and drive implementation of the company’s growth strategy. It provides a coaching cadence, guides and best practices and shares how to use dashboards and reports.

Who owns it? The sales operations and sales training teams typically own the coaching playbook – sales operations because the playbook is the tangible representation of how a sales manager fits into the overall sales strategy for growth, and sales training because it delivers best practices, skills and training concepts. However, both teams require direct cooperation from the head of sales to see real behavior change. Without senior sponsorship, busy managers won’t adopt it.

Sales Process Playbook

What is it? A sales process playbook provides a practical sales execution perspective on how to be a disciplined seller. It is all about the management of opportunities and the development of existing accounts, providing content, tools and training to win an opportunity or expand a customer relationship. The sales process playbook includes topics like selling steps, stages in the buying process, roles by stage what to do in the CRM by stage and dashboards.

Who owns it? Typically, the sales operations or sales enablement team, plus the sales training team, own the sales process playbook. The sales operations and sales enablement teams are both focused on how to make salespeople productive and consistent. The sales training team also has a stake, because a process playbook maps out how to follow the sales methodology and the best practices provided through training.

Social Selling Playbook

What is it? A social selling playbook is all about equipping the sales team to be better digital sellers. It includes guidance on how to leverage social networks like LinkedIn – how to engage prospective buyers in a way that offers value, provides insight and looks for opportunities to have conversations.

Who owns it? The social selling playbook doesn’t yet have a clear owner, but the marketing and sales teams both care about the success of social selling. Marketing is seeking to drive the message through all digital channels, and the sales team is looking for all avenues to create more opportunities and pipeline.

If you’re not sure if you do or should own a particular playbook, have conversations with your peers and the different organizations that care about sales message consistency, sales coaching effectiveness, sales process execution or mastery of social selling best practices. Explore what content, tools and training exist in those areas, and determine whether a playbook approach could accelerate momentum.

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