Top performing sales teams are different. They use playbooks to accelerate performance.

Think about it. A sports team would never take the field without regularly practicing their playbooks. But many sales teams have no shared plays to guide buyer conversations.

Just like in sports, a sales playbook offers an agreed-on set of best practices for “field operations” – meaning how we manage each phase of our buyer conversations. 

Sales plays are not prescriptive scripts but instead frameworks that guide conversations back to buyer value. Here are some examples:

  • Discovery questions that are most effective in surfacing a buyer’s goals, pain, and desired outcomes
  • Qualifying questions that gauge interest and a willingness to commit to next steps
  • Customer stories with the strongest peer proof for different personas or segments
  • Closing plays to help a buying group prioritize and identify steps to a partnership
  • Pricing plays that position your product or service as a value-added investment

There are at least four ways sales playbooks support sales acceleration:

  1. Capturing Tribal Knowledge – Without written down plays, it is really “everyone for themselves,” in the heroic model of selling. Writing down your Plays, by contrast, makes it possible to capture and share your team’s best practices, particularly your Top 20% of performers.
  2. Making It Easy to Practice – Research from Gartner and the Sales Management Association have shown that just one hour a week of focused skills practice can improve performance 15% to 20%. Shared plays make it a lot easier to know what to practice and how to fit it into existing buyer and team calls.
  3. Leveraging Peer Learning – The best way to improve sales is by getting peer feedback from managers and other team members. Having a shared language and shared plays makes it possible to get targeted peer feedback on everything we do in selling from document reviews (e.g., emails, sales decks, proposals), role plays, video call reviews, and deal or account strategy reviews.  
  4. Staying Abreast of Your Market – Markets evolve constantly with new competitors, shifting buyer needs, and unexpected market disruptions. Shared playbooks make it possible to fluidly adjust to changes in market circumstances, whether that is updated positioning, differentiation, or discovery strategies.

In the current environment, sales teams need to fluently personalize their conversations to an average of 8 buyer roles with multiple, diverse goals in a range of markets.  

Playbook-Based skills development is the only way to meet this demand for buyer personalization and speak to each buyer about the goals and priorities most important to them.  Playbooks help any team capture and consistently reinforce their best sales practices.