Playbooks need to be properly designed and distributed to maximize content effectiveness.
We’ve heard it before: sales playbooks are essential to reducing your ramp times, streamlining your strategy, and making your team more effective. Hubspot reports top sales teams are almost twice as likely to have a sales playbook as those who fall behind, and Aberdeen Research Group states playbooks can shorten cycles and increase contract value. In fact, it can be dangerous not to have one: Callidus finds that in companies without playbooks, reps are more likely to go “rogue” and start creating their own content from scratch. At best, this is an inefficient use of time, and at worst can present noncompliant branding and inaccurate information.
Having a playbook, however, is not a guaranteed success. In order to see the benefits a playbook can have on your organization, you need to design material that your team can and will adopt to help them improve where it counts.
Design your playbook to equip your reps to face common challenges so that they can solve problems and answer questions on their feet. Sales leader Matt Dixon emphasizes the importance of keeping your team thoroughly informed about your solutions and the landscape they face so they can lend insight to potential customers. “By the time the average business customer reaches out to a supplier, their purchase decisions is almost 60% complete,” he says. This means sales reps need to be able to get in before the competition and “engage [customers] even earlier to inform their view of their world, teach them about opportunities and problems out there, and then teach them why they need to buy from us is the solution to those problems and opportunities,” says Dixon. To achieve this, your salespeople need to be better resources than the internet so they can help customers see the value in your solution.
Harvard Business Review reports that 53% of what drives customer loyalty comes from how they feel about the sales experience. This underscores the importance of making sure your reps are equipped to present your organization in the best way possible. To do this, smart teams need to focus on not only on playbook content, but that it is distributed and structured in a way that will accomplish its goals. If you haven’t already done so, you may want to consider digitizing your playbooks to make them more accessible to your team wherever they are, on any device. A rep can quickly check a playbook on their phone in the field, when they may not carry around a traditional paper book. Digital playbooks also have an efficiency advantage. When creating your playbook, make sure all information is quick and easy for reps to find through simple navigation. That way, your team will feel more comfortable looking for a quick answer to a question than they would be if they had to flip through pages or dig through an index.
Ideally, your playbook is a resource your team both enjoys using and feel they learn from. Interactive playbooks, with videos, images, and quizzes, provide a more robust and engaging learning experience than printed manuals or static PDFs. You can include videos, motion graphics and diagrams for visual learners, audio clips and scrolling text for verbal learners, and even quizzes, product demos, calculators, and interactive charts for experiential learners. Not only will they be more interesting and appeal to more learning styles, but media-rich content also provides an opportunity to set the tone for your brand verbally and visually.
Your sales team is on the front lines in conversation with your customers. Consider their needs and opinions as you create your playbook, and don’t be afraid to update frequently (yet another reason we recommend taking your playbook digital). Let your team give their feedback, and incorporate their most successful tools to strengthen the whole team. Developing an iterative pattern based on company updates, strengths, and weaknesses will make your team feel informed and heard and foster an attitude of open communication and practice.