There are customers who are still ready to buy, even during challenging economic times. There are prospects who might even be more likely to convert than usual because they want to invest in products and services that keep them competitive. While businesses are facing uncertainty in many areas, they all share a drive for continued success, and they’ll listen to vendors who know how to speak to their needs.
Sales teams need to approach opportunities and manage their pipelines with care, however. The driving factors that ultimately lead to a closed deal may have changed considerably over the last 12 months. A new set of common objections may have emerged. The way products are bundled, the assets that prove helpful at later stages of the purchase cycle – all these factors need to be tailored for each customer.
Even during less turbulent periods, companies have often developed a sales playbook to ensure their reps are equipped with the best information to provide a consistent and effective customer experience (CX). While we often think about CX as being focused on post-sale areas such as customer service, a great buying experience can be key to driving loyalty and building positive word of mouth.
Sales playbooks will include an overview of the company’s products and services, for example, that reps can use to educate customers and help them make the business case for a purchase. A good sales playbook will also provide reps with buyer personas, lead qualification criteria, and other resources to help them meet their quota.
Although they may not have always been considered as such, a sales playbook can be a core pillar in offering a great employee experience for your reps. It’s an asset that can provide them greater confidence in doing their job, while offering ideas to take charge of their own professional development. When they truly value their sales playbook, reps will sell more, and customers will be happier.
If your company has never created a sales playbook before, now is a great time to start. If you’ve had a sales playbook but haven’t updated it in a long time, this is also a perfect moment to revisit what’s there and revise according to the current business landscape.
Here are some ideas to get this process started:
Of course you want a playbook to help reps close more deals and increase revenue for your company. That’s table stakes. A great sales playbook will do more than that, giving reps a greater insight into your company’s unique goals, frameworks, and values.
Beyond the basic suggestions, for instance, your sales playbook could be a way to educate reps about your company’s data culture, outlining steps that they should take to make more strategic use of information. It could motivate them in using automation (like a chatbot, for example) to be more productive and drive more efficient growth as prospects come to your website.
Don’t forget the point made earlier about the relationship between sales and CX. Include tips in your playbook to understand how they can enhance the customer journey and create magic moments of surprise and delight.
A great “play” is not merely one that convinces a customer to spend their money. It’s a play that helps the rep make the connection between the work they’re doing and those of other teams that will be involved in delivering the experience.
Closing a deal won’t matter much, for example, if the customer in question winds up having a lot of trouble with a product and has to keep reaching out for support. Your playbook could help mitigate this risk by describing the most common troubleshooting tips, which reps can pass on as a purchase is made.
The playbook should also help reps be more aligned with the way the marketing team is trying to enhance lead generation, or how the IT department is saving costs by centralizing data into a consolidated platform.
Make it easy for reps to collaborate by using the playbook to teach them about your approach to managing data, and encourage them to use simple tools like Slack for real-time communications.
The earliest sales playbooks probably reflected a world in which reps were primarily selling in two ways: in person and over the phone.
As a result, a lot of the advice might have covered the art of cold calling, how to get past “gatekeepers,” and the art of getting a customer to say “yes” once the rep was finally sitting in a prospect’s office.
Today the pathways a rep might take can be much different. They might first notice a customer describing a challenge or pain point on social media, for example. This could be followed by some polite outreach via direct message (DM), and then conducting a virtual walk-through or demo of a product over a video call. The deal might be closed without anyone talking on a phone or meeting in person.
You’re doing reps a favour by thinking through all the various channels and customer scenarios they’ll encounter as digital processes become more common. Help them to see how they could wow a customer by demonstrating a product or service using augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). Coach them on how to navigate a sales process that spans email, text messages, apps, and more.
The past few years have created huge changes in the way we all work and live. That may galvanize your firm to do an update on your playbook this year, but what about in the years to come?
Create a policy that your playbook will be reviewed following a critical milestone, such as reporting your year-end results or after completing performance reviews. Make it standard to have newly-hired reps write a “review” of the playbook after their first year on the job. Do an annual tour of marketing, customer service, and IT to show what’s in your playbook and ask for their suggested edits and additions.
A top-notch playbook only stays that way if you make it a living document. In other words, you’ll achieve greater success if you’ve given your reps an asset with timely, actionable content that makes it easy to bring your strategy to life.