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How to Create a Sales Playbook to Decrease Ramp-Up Time đź“š

Sales
Written by
David Levy

This guide will teach you the ins and outs of sales playbooks. You'll learn applicable steps on how to create a sales playbook that maximizes organization-wide success. 

Sales departments face numerous challenges:

  • Poor sales practices 
  • Long ramp-up times
  • A lack of internal company buy-in
  • Department-wide inconsistencies 

Together, these problems result in underperforming sales across the board.  

The key to fixing these common issues?

A well-established sales playbook that arms sales personnel with the plays, messaging, and sales enablement materials they need to close deals quickly and consistently.

Table of contents:

What Is A Sales Playbook?

A sales playbook is a sales enablement blueprint that helps reps navigate the sales process, get training, deal with sales situations, and understand company goals. 

Sales playbooks align reps with company goals (mission, KPIs, etc.) and best practices (sales methodologies, customer info, and resources).

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They provide a plethora of sales materials like guidelines, product info, and sales plays designed to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Train new sales reps effectively 
  • Reduce ramp-up time 
  • Win more deals 
  • Create a company culture and inspire unity
  • Maintain consistent sales approaches and results across the organization 

You can start a sales playbook with a simple template in Google Docs or by using sales playbook software. 

Overall, sales playbooks provide a wealth of information that can produce a great ROI.

4 Ways A Sales Playbook Can Help Your Organization

Are you looking to grow your organization, boost your sales, and improve company culture? 

Here are 4 ways developing your sales playbook will make your sales team more effective and efficient. 

1. Avoid bad sales practices

Here’s the truth:

New sales reps aren’t entirely new. They bring established sales habits and beliefs (especially if they have experience) to your business. 

Experience can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, veteran reps may have lots of practice winning deals. But what worked for them in the past may not work for them in their new role. 

It's your job as the sales leader to introduce your company's model of selling, including: 

  • Sales methodologies
  • Sales cadences
  • Messaging
  • Your company’s definition of a “great customer experience” 

Your sales playbook helps reps avoid bad sales practices, inconsistent sales steps, and outdated or incorrect information. 

2. Shorten the sales cycle

Evidence shows that companies with an established sales process see 18% more revenue than companies without one. 

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But EVEN if you have a sales process, your win rates can vary drastically from month to month and rep to rep if you don't have a sales playbook providing direction.

In other words, the scripts, messaging, product information, and education in your sales playbook can protect reps from making critical mistakes in the sales process.

Now, a sales playbook isn't necessarily a magic pill.

Lead quality and industry play important roles, too. After all, your reps aren’t omnipotent wizards. But with the right sales playbook, they CAN make sales “magic” happen (especially compared to businesses without one).  

3. Consistent product value proposition 

You’ll inevitably hire reps with different selling methods. These different sales approaches can create confusion and inconsistent messaging.. 

It's your company's role to lay out how to position your product or service in a unified voice so that your ideal customers know what to expect from you. 

A playbook is the glue that holds your sales team together through SOPs, training, and sales enablement materials.  

Since your playbook describes your best buyers, your reps can confidently and consistently make enticing pitches and ask the right questions when interacting with leads. 

When your reps communicate with leads using consistent messaging, you can spend time addressing other pressing factors preventing conversion. 

4. Increase sales effectiveness

Last but not least, a sales playbook can skyrocket your sales effectiveness. 

With a clear idea of who your customers are, situational sales battle cards, and helpful resources, your sales win rates will increase.

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According to The Tas Group, sales teams with a well-established sales process are 33% more likely to be high-performers and two-thirds of companies with well-defined playbooks have win rates over 50%.

A well-defined sales playbook will improve sales effectiveness at each stage of your sales process. 

You don’t win by making spontaneous and inconsistent decisions or relying on your reps’ intuitions to guide prospects to purchasing. 

You provide a world class buyer experience and beat your competition by providing your team with a robust sales playbook addressing every pitfall imaginable. 

Who Should Contribute To The Sales Playbook?

Sales playbooks are a collaborative effort given the swell of information and resources they contain. 

Staff, partners, and key stakeholders should be involved based on what your sales playbook needs.

There are two questions you should answer when determining who should contribute to the sales playbook:

  • What will the sales playbook contain?
  • Who would be the best person(s) to contribute to each section of the playbook?

The answers to those questions should lead you to meet with everyone who has key roles influencing sales, such as:

  • Founders
  • CEOs
  • Sales leadership (CROs, VPs, directors, etc)
  • Sales Enablement
  • Marketing specialists 
  • Customer Success leadership
  • Account executives 

The insight from everyone above gives you a variety of perspectives. 

Every contributor has a unique role in the company, so each vantage point you include can help your sales playbook display the complete picture. 

For instance, account executives often may find problems in the qualification process if they find themselves spending too much time getting on calls with unqualified leads. If these are leads being handed off by a sales development rep (SDR), the feedback can lead to a change in the qualification process. If the AE is qualifying what should be a marketing qualified lead (MQL), it can change the persona the company is targeting or what actions constitute an MQL. This type of feedback is most reliable when a consistent playbook is being followed.

The Anatomy Of A Sales Playbook: What's Included?

Company information 

Sales playbooks usually start with a company overview of some sort. Your company information should include topics like:

  • Mission statement: A short statement saying what the company's purpose is
  • Goals: What the company would like to accomplish 
  • Values: Principles or standards that the company sees as important 
  • Direction: Where the company would like to be in the future 
  • Differentiation: What makes the company different (value proposition, how they benefit their niche, etc.)

The information on the company will give account executives a culture to align with, which promotes a collaborative, healthy company environment. 

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Product and service overview

Your company's product and service information should detail everything about your product, including:

  • Overviews (differentiate products targeting various customer segments)
  • Pricing
  • How it works
  • Technical features
  • Use-cases
  • Value proposition

This part of your sales playbook should be as detailed as possible. 

Think about it this way: Your reps sell the product to the customer, but your playbook sells the product to the reps.

Your reps should see the tremendous upside of your product. This section of your playbook allows your reps to buy in and build the selling confidence they need to win deals. 

Sales organizational structure

Your sales organizational structure informs how your sales team is set up and outlines each member’s role and responsibility.

An organization’s structure is usually portrayed through a chart showing sales leaders at the top and SDRs at the bottom, similar to this hierarchy: 

  • CRO
  • VP of Sales 
  • Director of Sales
  • Sales Manager
  • Account Executives
  • SDRs

Your reps can also be divided into the following subgroups:

  • The island - When reps handle the sales process as individuals and report to a sales leader.
  • The assembly line - When the sales process is broken down into tasks that are assigned to different reps.
  • The pod - Similar to an assembly line, except SDRs, AEs, and CSMs are assigned to teams (pods).

Delineating the sales organizational structure in your sales playbook shows your members how their roles fit inside of the entire team. 

When new hires have questions, they can identify the right person to go to by reviewing their playbook. On the other hand, seasoned reps can use this section of the playbook to aspire to higher positions (and do their best in their current roles to make those dreams a reality). 

Customer profiles & buyer personas 

Your ideal customers are the people most likely to buy your product. The better you can zero in on who they are, the more targeted your marketing and productive your sales conversations will be. 

Knowing your buyer personas can prevent wasting money on marketing to the wrong people and optimize for a faster sales cycle. 

Customer profiles contain information like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Buying habits 
  • Pain points
  • Goals

For B2B specifically, you may also want to pinpoint:

  • Budget range
  • Company size 

The customer profile and buyer persona section of your sales playbook takes the guesswork out of how to position your product to your market (because you know who they are and their pain points).

Here's a step-by-step process to creating a buyer persona:

1. Pinpoint the problems your business solves. What are they?

2. Map out who's already buying from you. What are their commonalities?

3. Speak with your current and past customers, survey who they are, and identify their desires and struggles.

4. Look at your buyer journeys (why they buy, how they buy), and put everything into a psychographic.

6. Segment your buyer personas into different pools (if you have multiple products).

Once you establish your buyer personas, these will be helpful customer archetypes your account executives will qualify for on discovery calls. 

Sales process stages

Your company's sales process consists of the stages your sales team moves through to convert people from prospects to customers. 

The sales process is vital in winning deals because it brings structure and predictability to a highly variable sales situation. 

Here's an average sales process in B2B:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Discovery call
  3. Qualification
  4. Proposal
  5. Follow up
  6. Close 
  7. Onboarding
  8. Customer retention

Your sales playbook should explain each stage in detail and cover sales situations at each stage. 

The playbook should also mention sales resources helpful for each stage. This will help reps get the tools they need quickly when spontaneous issues arise. 

Include research to support your process to emphasize the importance of your reps’ responsiveness throughout each stage. 

For instance, you can mention how the company that responds to a prospect first wins 35-50% of sales, or: returning a call within five minutes makes it 21X more likely for a sales rep to connect with a lead.

Time management protocols 

According to Accenture, 42.5% of sales reps take ten months or more for their productivity to match company goals. Want to cut that time down? Develop excellent time management protocols and put them in your sales playbook. 

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Your sales playbook's time management protocols detail what reps can do to increase productivity and save energy during the workday.

Time management protocols can include:

  • Sales cadence (number of touchpoints with prospects in a timeframe)
  • How to stay organized
  • Focusing on tasks with the highest ROI
  • Automating repetitive tasks (data entry, generating forms, etc.)
  • Setting daily task reminders using CRM
  • Asking more direct and critical questions during discovery calls

Lead management protocols

Lead management protocols list out where your sales team can expect leads to come from and how to interact with them in each context.

For example, email marketing leads may have different expectations than leads from ad campaigns. Your lead management protocols can explain how to guide those specific prospects through your sales funnel.

Lead management protocols explain how to: 

  • Qualify
  • Nurture
  • Deploy sales methodology
  • Identify a high-quality lead 

That last point is massively important for time management and overall sales effectiveness. In a survey of B2B companies, 49% mentioned that "sales qualified leads" is the most critical KPI for measuring lead generation performance.

Great leads tend to match your customer profiles, have adequate answers to discovery questions, and show clear buying cues consistent with prospects you've landed. 

A sales playbook describing your lead management protocols empowers your reps to spend most of their time and energy on sales-qualified leads. 

Sales messaging

Your sales messages tell sales personnel what to say and ask to move prospects toward conversion.

Your sales messaging should show up in every section of your playbook: 

  • Company mission
  • Business goals
  • Value proposition
  • Elevator pitches
  • Sales scripts
  • Discovery questions
  • Marketing messaging

Consistent sales messaging helps each prospect understand the value of your product as clearly as possible throughout the sales process. Your sales message can also help the prospect feel heard and understood based on your reps’ questions and clarification statements. 

Sales methodology

The sales methodology is a significant part of your sales playbook because it's how your company wins deals.

Your chosen methodology should be adequate, proven, and repeatable to bring the best results. Without a method, sales teams may default to scatter techniques and even bad sales practices. 

With that said, here are the top proven sales techniques you can adopt for your organization 

  • SPIN
  • SNAP
  • Value selling
  • MEDDIC 
  • BANT
  • Challenger selling

Your sales methodology will influence your sales process, messaging, plays, resources, and lead management protocols, so this should be one of the first things established in your sales playbook. 

Sales resources 

A collection of sales resources may be one of the most beneficial parts of your entire playbook. 

Sales resources are organized materials meant to scaffold reps at each step of the sales process. They include:

  • CRM
  • Training content (videos, whitepapers)
  • Sales battlecards
  • Templates
  • Competitor analysis
  • Customer stories
  • Common sales questions
  • Sales statistics 
  • Sales enablement how-to's (demos, videos, and whitepapers for using the sales enablement resources, CRM tips.)

These will ensure that account executives have up-to-date information and tools that make their jobs easier. 

Take this example:

Company Z’s reps historically struggle to retain information and make practical in-call suggestions to their prospects. 

Company Z decides to use Aircover's real-time sales enablement tools. 

Now, Company Z’s reps have immediate access to the best protocols during sales calls. Plus, the software saves that information to create how-tos for training purposes.   

Sales resources give your team the most leverage possible to succeed, which helps the company reach its overall goals.

Sales plays and battlecards

Sales plays provide the actions reps should take in specific sales situations. These plays align with the company’s values and create consistency across the company.

Before developing sales plays, everyone contributing to your sales playbook should be on the same page about your sales process, ideal customers, sales methodology, and the exact definition of a sales play. 

Here's an example of a prospecting stage sale play:

  1. Ad campaign generates email leads → 
  2. Leads are entered into an email journey to book a discovery call → 
  3. If the prospect doesn’t move to the next stage, a rep follows up with 2 phone calls, 2 weeks apart

Sales plays provide the situational sales support that reps can rely on during a call. This part of your sales playbook should grow as your team accumulates knowledge and experience.

Keeping your sales plays and battlecards up-to-date is crucial to keep your reps using your company’s most relevant and effective messaging. Aircover’s AI technology keeps your plays up-to-date across your organization and surfaces them in video meetings to keep reps equipped with the right messaging to handle the hardest objections

KPI goals

KPIs are pivotal metrics (like conversion rates, total revenue, and average time for conversion) that help track a business’s progress. Placing them in your sales playbook helps reps and sales leaders track performance and make tweaks where necessary. 

Give your reps clear timeframes associated with each KPI and its expectations listed in your sales playbook. Flexible deadlines allow reps to backward engineer what they need to do each day and week to reach their numbers. It also helps sales managers give reps helpful advice on time management.

KPIs help set the stage for more sales effectiveness because they are tangible targets to reach all the time.

How Do You Make a Good Playbook For Your Organization?

Now that you understand what goes into sales playbooks, here’s step-by-step guidance on how to make a sales playbook for your business. 

1. Get ideas from your sales organization 

Get together with key stakeholders and staff members who lead the direction of the sales department.

Collaboratively outline what your sales playbook should contain, due dates, how reps will access it, and when to expect revisions.

2. Evaluate the current state

Go over what's working in your sales process and what's not by evaluating your sales KPIs. 

Whether it's a problem with your sales process or methodology, identifying your pain points can direct how you write a sales playbook. 

A gap analysis is a great way to organize what you want out of your playbook. You can conduct a gap analysis by following these steps:

  1. Evaluate your current state 
  2. Determine your goals (& KPIs)
  3. Determine a realistic timeframe for your goals 
  4. Figure out the missing pieces (the gap)
  5. Put together solutions (sales systems, protocols, enablement tools, etc.)

3. Customers & interactions

Next, work with your team to analyze your customers and determine how you want your sales team to interact with them.

Who is the ideal customer in your market? 

Are your current sales practices aligned with your ideal customer? 

Take time to study your customers as you develop this section of your sales playbook.

4. Delegate sales playbook roles to specific people

It's now time to delegate specific tasks for your playbook. 

Assign sections of your sales playbook to the correct specialist on your team. Here are examples of how to divide sales playbook sections by roles in a sales organization: 

  • Sales director - KPI goals, product information, sales process, company information
  • Sales manager - sales methodology, sales training resources, sales plays, time management protocols, messaging
  • Marketing team - Customer profiles, case studies, competitor analysis, industry statistics

5. Assemble the materials

Create the sales playbook sections and materials and combine them. Set a deadline for the playbook’s completion to keep your team on track.

Using your company's CRM is a great way to keep track of the playbook workflow. 

6. Focus on your company plays

Craft customer situational sales blueprints that people in your sales team should follow. These should be proven and effective based on company expertise and what already works in your industry. 

7. Establish KPI goals

Set goals that sales reps and the organization should reach, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. A great way to set KPIs is to have them in line with the S.M.A.R.T goal model of goal setting:

  • Specific
  • Measurable 
  • Attainable 
  • Relevant 
  • Time-based

8. Make it easily accessible

You can use sales playbook software to organize your materials efficiently and make them digitally accessible (especially great for video sales enablement resources). Aircover makes your sales playbook easily accessible across your organization with up-to-date plays, battlecards, and resources.

You can also adopt digital sales playbook templates that are easy to revise and access.

9. Gain organizational feedback and iterate

Once your sales playbook is complete, it's time to get together with all collaborators and collectively give feedback on it. 

This is the final chance to make essential revisions before you begin implementing your sales playbook. Also, gain feedback from your account executives since they'll be the ones implementing the material the most. 

10. Update your playbook as time goes on

All too often, reps abandon sales playbooks when they get "too busy." But consistently using a playbook does two things:   

  • It boosts sales effectiveness.
  • It gives you information on how effective your sales strategies are.

Survey the playbook to determine what information is helpful and what could be improved. You can compare your metrics from the current quarter to the last quarter. Did you meet or exceed your KPIs? Is ramp-up time moving a little faster than usual? 

If your sales playbook made a significant change after a few months, it's working. If you don’t see improvements, your playbook has room to grow.

Final Thoughts On Sales Playbooks

Sales playbooks add speed to your organization, from your sales cycle to your rep’s ramp-up time.

A sales playbook is a critical sales enablement tool that helps companies reach their goals and overcome common (and not-so-common) sales roadblocks.

Many sales leaders notice that their most common pitfalls happen during the sales calls themselves. Issues from objection handling to poor information recollection are the culprits of many fallen deals. 

That's why Aircover has created real-time, in-meeting sales tools that give reps specific in-the-moment information they need to win deals.

Curious about what it can do for your organization?

Get early access to Aircover's data-driven sales enablement tool today.

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- Dave

Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer @Aircover

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