Let's talk about growing your sales playbook.
So you built a sales playbook. Great job! That puts you a step ahead of many of your competitors, and it’s a powerful resource for driving ongoing sales improvement.
Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you. If you don’t have a process for pruning your playbook, its value will drop by the month.
Why? If your sales playbook has the ideal combination of processes, policies, and best practices, they will naturally change over time.
Maybe you added a new role in the marketing department, so the way leads are handled has changed. Or your product mix has changed – new products launched and older ones removed. Maybe one of your reps discovered an absolutely bulletproof way to respond to a prospect’s objection. Or the brochures and product information sheets you uploaded have been updated.
If all of these changes are happening outside the sales playbook, salespeople won’t trust it to have accurate information. And if they don’t trust the playbook, they won’t use it.
You can avoid this natural decline by applying a basic principle of gardening to your sales playbook – pruning it!
Keeping your sales playbook up to date is just as important as building it in the first place.
The Foundation to Growing Your Sales PlayBook
Before we dive in, one quick note.
For all three of the steps below, it's helpful to form a cross-functional sales growth team that proactively manages the sales playbook. As you are growing your sales playbook over time, they'll stay a step ahead.
This team should include representation from the following departments, if you have them.
- Sales leadership
- Customer Service
Consider including both veterans and new hires. Your less experienced team members will be able to think of everything they wish they'd had when they started. Vets will share their knowledge and expertise.
So now that you've formed your team, let's get started.
3 Steps to Growing Your Sales PlayBook
1. Remove dead content.
This is the most basic and one of the most important steps. On a regular basis, review all of the content in your playbook and remove or archive anything that is no longer applicable.
We'd recommend doing this quarterly, or even monthly if you have a big team and an active playbook.
Here are some ideas of things to prune out of your sales playbook:
- Announcements and information about past events
- Outdating marketing materials
- Old messaging
- Product information that is no longer relevant
- Out of date processes
- Best practices that don't work anymore
- References to tools and systems you no longer use
- Comments that don't add value
- Prior versions of attached documents, which your system may have archived
- Content that isn't being used (though you may want to update and improve it instead of just removing it)
Consider whether to archive or remove any of this content. If it's something you may want to reference again, such as a plan for an event you may want to duplicate next year, archive it. If it's no longer relevant at all, go ahead and delete it.
An easy way to manage this process is to assign each of the members of your sales growth team a specific area of the playbook to monitor. They can keep track of it between meetings. They'll manage any incremental updates and come to meetings prepared to share ideas for improvement, including deletions.
2. Graft in new content.
Along the same lines, you’ll want to add new content where appropriate. If you removed an old piece of content, add the new one. Sometimes this will involve a simple switch, while other times you’ll be adding entirely new content. Make sure the sales playbook is fresh and current!
For ideas of what content to add, consider asking your sales team. One best practice is to keep a forum topic or email inbox open for suggestions. You can then regularly remind the team in sales team meetings that you're looking for ideas to add to the playbook.
Anytime you conduct a sales or product training, make sure you add it to the playbook. You can record the training session itself for future hires to review, or just add key notes and documentation to the playbook.
As you are growing your sales playbook, consider building a section for new hire onboarding. This is a great place to add any recorded trainings or training notes.
When you get the team together, spend time developing content for your playbook. Solicit success stories and examples of great questions to ask or ways to respond to objections.
Consider adding a regular deal review to your sales team meetings, and review both wins and losses. Develop a basic template for these reviews and keep the template and the completed reviews in the playbook. Over time, you'll build a library of dos, don'ts, and lessons learned.
Constantly keep your ears open for content to add to your sales playbook.
3. Plan for future growth.
This is the fun part! When you’ve completed the first two steps of pruning, take a step back.
How is the sales playbook growing? It’s important to take a strategic perspective and consider the role the playbook will have for your team.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What areas do you need that you’ve neglected?
- How is the team currently using the playbook? What areas are underutilized?
- Which areas could be merged or changed?
- What major initiatives are coming, and how can the playbook help the team prepare?
- Are there processes that are not yet documented?
- Do you have best practices for using your sales systems and tools?
- Does your playbook support your growth strategy?
- Can you track and share KPIs in the playbook?
- How does your playbook help drive accountability and focus?
- What teams are using the playbook? Are there teams to add?
Taking a strategic approach to growing your sales playbook will ensure it doesn't get out of control.
We hope you’ve been inspired to get out your pruning shears! Share your feedback and ideas for pruning sales playbooks in the comments.