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  • Copyright SiriusDecisions. All Rights Protected and Reserved. 1

    C A T E G O R Y : S A L E S E F F E C T I V E N E S S

    In 1825, the Erie Canal opened with consider-

    able fanfare, connecting the U.S. Great Lakes

    with the port of New York. Building it required

    the combined resources of many, from the lead-

    ership of New York Gov. DeWitt Clinton to the

    labor of thousands of immigrants. Its impact was

    significant; the shipping cost to move a ton of

    goods over the same distance eventually

    dropped from $100 to only $10.

    While were not suggesting that building a

    sales playbook compares to an engineering mar-

    vel like the Erie Canal, there are analogies to be

    drawn. First, playbooks require significant col-

    laboration between a broad range of sales and

    marketing resources; and second, they can drive

    major impact on the productivity of reps. In this

    brief, we will share a five-step plan to design,

    build and deploy sales playbooks.

    ONE: GETTING STARTED

    Building an impactful playbook begins with

    deciding what sales scenario it will support. As

    mentioned in the brief Sales Playbooks: The

    What and Why, rules arent set in stone for

    making such a selection; however, most play-

    books tend to be focused on a given product,

    market segment or buying group.

    Be sure to outline the typical players and

    buying roles within the scenario to help deter-

    mine the degree of complexity that is being

    faced. If the scenario will require more than four

    HTML pages to tackle, consider breaking it up

    into multiple playbooks.

    TWO: ASSEMBLING THE TEAM

    Creating successful playbooks demands align-

    ment between a number of sales and marketing

    resources. The key roles to consider and the ben-

    efits to each participant include:

    Sales enablement/readiness. Located at

    the crossroads of sales and marketing, sales

    enablement is well positioned to play the

    essential role of playbook project manager.

    When they are properly designed, play-

    books help solve the challenge of getting

    knowledge into the hands of salespeople

    when they need it, guiding reps in the

    activities they should be performing, the

    content they should be using and the incre-

    mental resources that are available to

    enhance execution, from links to training

    videos or online tutorials to the ability to

    connect directly with a subject matter

    expert (SME).

    Sales and marketing leadership. As with

    any field initiative, getting buy-in from the

    top is critical. The benefit of playbooks at

    the executive level is simple: they provide a

    catalyst for improved alignment between

    sales and marketing.

    Sales managers. While we encourage

    having first-line managers as part of the

    playbook development team, they will play

    their most important role during launch. As

    in sports, playbooks are first and foremost

    a coaching tool; managers can use them

    with new reps to provide help in various

    selling situations. Playbooks also can help

    managers get up to speed on products,

    markets or sales approaches that may be

    new to them.

    Sales reps. While sales enablement may

    lead the development effort, reps must

    contribute content. Improving sales pro-

    ductivity means enhancing both efficiency

    and effectiveness; playbooks address both

    by saving reps from content search time or

    repeatedly asking colleagues what to use.

    Providing a guided sales approach that

    leverages best practices around process and

    Sales Playbooks: The How

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  • Copyright SiriusDecisions. All Rights Protected and Reserved. 2

    skills will undoubtedly improve your

    effectiveness.

    Product marketing. Product marketers

    play the role of SME, supplying content

    to support existing selling efforts.

    Playbooks also provide product mar-

    keters with a vehicle to create a how-

    to guide for new offerings and acceler-

    ate the adoption process across the field

    force. The playbook can include links to

    training content, client testimonials,

    FAQs and success stories from early

    adopter reps.

    Sales training. Getting reps to transfer

    skills and processes they learn in the classroom and execute them

    in the field has been an age-old training problem; playbooks can be

    a terrific help. If your sales organization has adopted a given sales

    methodology, every playbook should be designed to support it,

    including the verbiage used and steps outlined. Sales training

    should also ensure that reps have the necessary skills, knowledge

    and processes to execute the play.

    Sales system administrators. The assistance of a resource familiar

    with the sales content portal is needed to design and build play-

    book pages. Many third-party providers of sales content portals

    offer playbook modules with pre-built templates; an admin should

    be able to leverage these. Its helpful if this resource has HTML

    experience, which allows for greater flexibility in designing tem-

    plates outside the pre-built options.

    THREE: IDENTIFY SALES ACTIVITIES, ASSETS

    The next step is to create a brief (one- to two-paragraph) overview of the

    play, the market opportunity and any pertinent background information

    (e.g. marketplace trends). To organize the activities and content, create

    a playbook content template (in Word, Excel or PowerPoint) that lists the

    process steps along the top or side, and several columns labeled activi-

    ty/asset (see example, above).

    For each step, list the key selling/buying activities and milestones

    involved. Rely on the input of experienced field reps and managers to

    help provide guidance, and get consensus from the playbook team on

    these activities and milestones by holding regular review sessions (these

    can be conducted via Web conferencing).

    Next, for each activity list the assets that would help both reps and

    customers. These could be resources (e.g. white paper, case study or

    SME), tools (e.g. templates or proposal generators), or systems (e.g. a

    reservation system for a briefing center). What can make this step so dif-

    ficult is that many sales organizations dont have a handle on the assets

    being used in the field. Thus, for each activity and asset you should:

    Determine what exists today that can be used as is. If there are

    several assets to choose from, vote on the top two or three to make

    available in the sales playbook. The goal is to provide sales with the

    best of the best; ultimately, the project manager should make the

    final call.

    Determine what exists but must be updated. Creating a playbook

    is a terrific opportunity to take inventory of dated content and

    implement the necessary changes to make it relevant.

    Determine what must be created. During the process, current

    gaps in enablement support become clear, especially for latter

    stages of the sales process where there are a lack of assets to sup-

    port the selling function in the facilitation of a buying process. This

    is where one of the ancillary benefits of building playbooks

    becomes apparent: bringing marketing farther along the sales

    pipeline to provide the assets needed to close business.

    Identify content for internal use only. Some content, like a com-

    petitive grid, may be for internal eyes only. Be sure to tag these

    assets accordingly.

    FOUR: CREATE LAYOUT/DESIGN

    While there are no absolute rules in terms of playbook design, we

    encourage a less-is-more approach. What is important is that this design

    is consistent so that sales reps know what to expect. Start with the

    descriptor of the playbook that has already been created. Include a link

    C A T E G O R Y : S A L E S E F F E C T I V E N E S S

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  • Copyright SiriusDecisions. All Rights Protected and Reserved. 3

    to any relevant training resources, including a learning management sys-

    tem with e-learning courses, downloadable content or the ability to reg-

    ister for scheduled courses.

    In addition, provide links to relevant competitive intelligence, and

    access to SMEs via email, an HTML page with a discussion thread or other

    social media tools. Include the ability for reps to provide feedback, as well

    as the steps, activities, and assets created through hyperlinks. Finally,

    clearly indicate any assets that are for internal use only.

    FIVE: DEPLOYMENT

    Building a terrific sales playbook does not guarantee that sales reps will

    use it. We encourage deployment to your first-line managers initially,

    allowing them to train their reps on the playbooks; managers training

    can be conducted via Web conference. Managers should be given a thor-

    ough demo of the playbook, a script to follow when they launch it for

    their reps, and tips on how to use it as a coaching tool. The key benefits

    to this approach are that reps tend to take instruction better from their

    managers (feeling that if its important to them, it must be relevant) and

    getting managers to be the change agents by using the playbook as a

    coaching tool.

    As with a sports playbook, the ability to effectively execute a play

    will depend on the skills and abilities of the players. If you build a play-

    book to help salespeople call on financial decisionmakers, but have not

    prepared them with the skills and knowledge required, they will fail.

    Conduct playbook deployment with an eye on required rep development,

    using playbooks as a part of broader training engagements.

    THE SIRIUS DECISION

    Playbooks truly are a living document, and must be continually updated

    as new assets become available and changes occur in the selling environ-

    ment. Encourage feedback from the field, leveraging best practices and

    field-created content to augment existing playbook assets. The message

    to your sales reps should be loud and clear: The ultimate owner of the

    playbook is you.

    C A T E G O R Y : S A L E S E F F E C T I V E N E S S