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Why Your Sales Playbooks Are Set Up to Fail

Mallory Lieflander
October 28, 2021
Back to the blog
Why Your Sales Playbooks Are Set Up to Fail

Sales playbooks and running sales plays are both paramount to the consistent success of a sales organization. They help speed up ramp time, increase win rates, and prepare your team for scaling. In addition, teams that use sales playbooks or a defined sales strategy are 33% more likely to close sales at a higher rate.

That being said, it’s actually quite common for sales reps to not use their playbooks at all. In fact, almost half of all sales teams don’t even have a playbook. Furthermore, sales teams who do incorporate traditional sales playbooks and sales plays are not always utilizing these tools in the most efficient and advantageous ways.

almost 50% of all sales teams don't even have a playbook

Ralph Grimse, a partner with the sales consulting firm The Brevet Group, says the following about the lack of complexities within the traditional sales playbook:

“Reps say many sales playbooks come across as too superficial. The basic sales process is illustrated, with maybe a few case studies or features. But detailed guidance around how and when to use specific messages, collateral, and strategies is missing.”

In this article, we’ll break down the difference between sales playbooks and running sales plays. We will also offer a new way of thinking about both concepts and how they can actually work in unison towards landing more clients.

The fundamentals: sales playbooks vs sales plays

Before we get into the benefits of bringing together sales playbooks and running sales plays, let’s first dig into these terminologies.

What is usually included in a sales playbook?

Traditionally, a sales playbook is an instructional and informational guidebook often used during training, onboarding, and to support your sales narrative. Playbooks are usually stationary documents that act as a thorough seller manual for a rep.

Sales playbooks tend to include pertinent information like the stages of the sales cycle, company information and overall mission, FAQs, call scripts, battle cards, and team KPIs.

Playbooks should empower salespeople and guide them throughout the sales process. Otherwise, they will have to figure out everything on their own by shadowing their colleagues.

What does it mean to run a sales play?

Running a sales play means using a series of repeatable steps and procedures during a particular stage of the sales process. It can also be customizable to a certain type of prospect or client.

Preparing for a prospect demo call is one example of running a sales play. This sales play includes a breakdown of how to strategically approach the demo presentation along with client-specific data. Additionally, sales plays can include common questions and objections that typically occur during this particular part of the sales cycle.

Let’s apply this to a football game.

You would start the match with your general playbook but you definitely wouldn’t rely on it to dictate every move for every minute. You would need to use the playbook as guidance for making decisions and plays on the field in real-time. You need to be flexible.

The coach or a team captain would then be your guide for running individual plays based on how the game was going.

How do playbooks & sales plays work together?

Playbooks and sales plays have a lot of similarities between them. For example, both require planning, market research, and data collection. They also both help create a more coherent sales process for the entire organization.

That being said, they are different types of sales tools. Playbooks are typically static and aren’t always customizable to every client. They are an overarching plan for your organization in which sales plays fall under. Meanwhile, sales plays are generally based on your team’s specific selling strategies as well as on particular client information and past historical data.

By ensuring the two are working coherently with each other, you can create a more efficient process for your sales reps. When you bring playbooks and sales plays together into one integrated system, you are uniting your team to achieve one common goal.

Demodesk Sales Playbook Checklist

Here are a few ways to utilize both for greater sales efficiency:

Put your playbook into action

This may seem obvious, but it’s not necessarily a given that sales plays are part of every organization’s playbook. For each stage of your sales cycle, have a general sales play within your playbook for your reps to customize as they prepare for their meetings.

Include general questions that the rep can use to prepare for each stage of their sales cycle :

  • What’s the goal of this meeting?
  • How should I structure the meeting?
  • What crucial information from the customer should I get at the end of this call?
  • How do I build rapport?
  • How do I connect pain points to feature sets?
  • How do I move the sale to the next stage?

Bring in all necessary parties

When creating your content, make sure to include sales enablement, marketing, and product teams to make sure the content is well-rounded. This will also enhance the selling narrative by ensuring it is cohesive and consistent. In fact, when marketing and sales teams are in alignment, organizations can see a 15% increase in their win rates.

when marketing and sales teams are in alignment, organizations can see a 15% increase in their win rates

Centralize the content

A common issue with traditional sales playbooks is the lack of focus on necessary revisions. This includes adjusting to changes in the marketplace, sales teams, or even client profiles. By making your playbooks and sales plays centralized, your teams can have full access to the content and edit when necessary.

Keeping the information in a central hub is not just a benefit to your Account Executives. Providing easy access for SDRs, marketing teams, and sales enablement teams will only help to improve the quality of the content and drive your unique sales narrative.

Review consistently

Once you have a centralized sales playbook with your sales plays, you need to be reviewing its efficacy consistently. Track the success rate and client engagement data. Take into account the direct feedback from your reps and adjust accordingly. This is imperative in the review process since reps are seeing the real-time impact of these sales materials.

Connect your playbooks & sales plays

When it comes to using your playbook to run sales plays, having a good tech stack will be a huge advantage. There are a lot of tools you can use to marry the two, but as long as you choose one that has the following features - you’ll be golden.

Your playbook tool(s) should help:

  • Centralize content for your team
  • Customize the content in real-time to the customer
  • Collect call data automatically
  • Drive the use of engaging content

Centralized for easy access to all reps

All reps should be able to access your team-wide playbooks, wherever they are in the world. This allows for easier call preparation, cohesive narratives and best selling practices, and smoother presentations overall. Not to mention that it is easier to keep all your playbooks up to date with a centralized system.

If your playbooks can be preloaded into every meeting then you are giving back more time to your reps. Demodesk’s playbooks are not only centrally located for easy access, but can also be preloaded as part of the interactive meeting. No more worrying about having to search for a resource in the middle of a call or being caught off guard by a question you weren’t prepared for! Speaker notes, battle cards, and other helpful tools are all within every individual sales meeting playbook.

Real-time customizable content

We have heard so many reps talk about having to re-schedule meetings or rely heavily on follow-up emails when being faced with challenging customer questions. During customer calls, you should make it as easy as possible for your reps to shift the narrative based on the discussion.

If you are using a tool that allows you to change the playbook without leaving the meeting, this allows your reps to be more effective in every customer interaction. Give them the flexibility to customize the content according to the customer’s needs and you will surely see an increase in close rates.

Syncing your google slides to your CRM is also a great way to increase engagement with unique content to every customer use case.

Let me show you how it works in Demodesk:

  1. Use your CRM fields according to the customer’s information
  2. Sync the CRM fields with Demodesk data capturing tokens
  3. Create google slides that will recall information from these tokens
  4. And here you have a personalized slide, recalling all the information from your CRM.

Collects data automatically

Before any sales meeting, you should always have speaker notes connected to your playbook to guide you through the call. These speaker notes can include fields that you can fill up while discovering information about the prospect.

After you finish your call, all the notes and data you have inserted into your tool should automatically sync to your CRM system. This will help you and your team save time. Don’t keep having your reps manually log CRM data - we all know that is a mess ready to happen.

Engaging content

Aside from being easily accessible, make sure the tool you are using allows your playbooks to contain interactive and engaging content. Nobody likes to sit through a static Powerpoint presentation. Include websites, apps, or other interactive content to create a more relevant pitch every time.

This way, your prospect will be able to interact with your product directly driving knowledge retention. How are people really supposed to understand the value you bring to the table without experiencing it first-hand? Interactivity is key here.

Final thoughts

Sales playbooks and running plays are two necessary components of a consistent and scalable sales process. However, they need to work together to create the best opportunity for your reps to close more deals, faster.

Traditional playbooks are constructed as instructional guidebooks while sales plays can be customizable plans for each stage of the sales process. However, most sales teams focus on the general plan and forget about running the play.

Implement your playbooks to run the perfect play every time by making sure they are:

  • Centralized
  • Customizable
  • Collecting data
  • Interactive & engaging

A great example of how to effectively connect a traditional sales playbook to running a play is with Demodesk’s dynamic sales playbooks. At Demodesk we consider our playbooks as running a play — the two are synonymous with each other which makes it a more dynamic sales tool for reps.

With dynamic content, interactive functionality, CRM data sync, & custom speaker notes and battle cards, we help you:

  • Reduce manual tasks
  • Onboard new reps faster
  • Engage prospects better than ever
  • Create a cohesive selling narrative

Now that you’ve already established a solid foundation by reading this blog post. It’s time to take the next step and put your playbooks into action! Contact us for a demo today, and we’ll help you create effective sales plays that will help your reps close more deals. We look forward to talking with you.

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