When you're managing a busy sales team, you might fall into the trap of "anything goes." It doesn't really matter how your reps take someone from stranger to customer; it matters that they're doing it, right?
A mismatched sales team could deliver promises they can't keep, fail to convert leads, and be generally unproductive—something that costs companies at least $1 trillion every year, along with poorly managed leads.
What if I told you all of those issues could be prevented by spending a few hours creating one single document?
Spoiler alert: You can. It's called a sales playbook.
In this guide, we'll show you how to create a winning sales playbook, with tips & tricks to help you format your own.
What is a sales playbook?
A sales playbook is a document that outlines everything your sales team needs to know to succeed.
It covers basic elements like a rundown of the products or services they're selling, while also diving into detail with things like your brand's tone of voice, cold email scripts, and information about the people they're selling to (i.e. buyer personas).
In a nutshell: A sales playbook is the one document your entire sales department needs to close deals... and close them often.
Why bother creating a sales playbook?
I know where you're at right now: You're sick of creating boring documents that lurk in the bottom of your Google Drive, never to be seen again a few weeks after you initially introduced them.
Trust me when I say sales playbooks aren't like that.
These documents contain everything your sales reps need to make a sale, which is bound to lead to more efficiency.
A report by HubSpot found that salespeople spend just a third of their day talking to prospects. The other time is spent writing emails (21%), entering data (17%), and prospecting or researching leads (17%). 
A sales playbook will solve all three problems because:
- It contains scripts for cold emails.
- It shows sales reps how to use their CRM more effectively.
- It specifies the step-by-step process for finding warm/hot leads, while detailing buyer personas so they don't spend time trying to convert irrelevant people.
That's over half of their daily schedule that could be better-spent talking to customers.
But if that's not enough to convince you, remember that a sales playbook is the "ultimate guide" for your entire sales team.
Think about the reputation your business gains when your sales representatives are discussing your brand to the public day-in, day-out. You want to make sure they're giving a good impression, right?
Sales departments who reference an in-house sales playbook are always on the same page. They know what's expected of them, understand how to communicate without going against your brand values, and stick to sales processes you know aren't too pushy or forceful.
That's bound to lead to brand consistency—and the chance to increase overall company revenues by as much as 23%.
You'd be mad to miss out.
What should my playbook include?
Are you convinced it's time to create your own sales playbook?
Before you rush off and hold a sales department meeting to run through the notes you've put together, think about what actually needs to be included in your document.
That usually includes the answers to these questions:
- Company info: Why did your company start? Who owns or manages it?
- Your products/services: What does it do? Why does someone need it?
- Brand guidelines: Are you a cheeky brand known to tell the odd joke, or are you serious and professional?
- Buyer personas: Are your typical customers aged 55+, live in California, interested in expensive cars and own a software company?
- Sales & buying processes: Do you typically offer a free trial before convincing someone to buy? Or is your product a one-off, low-value purchase that usually converts after sending 3-5 targeted emails?
- Selling methodology: Do you use cold emails or account-based marketing tactics?
- Pre-made content: What should your emails, follow-ups & cold call scripts look like? What additional sales enablement content do you need?
- Tools they'll need (with access details): Which CRM do you use and how can they access it? Do you use any other sales tools or software?
- KPIs: How does a sales rep know they're performing well? How many sales are they expected to close per week? When do they need to improve? Learn about specific sales KPIs in this post.
- Payment for commission: What percentage does your sales team earn on deals they close? Do all sales generate commission? If not, what's the qualifying criteria?
How to create your own sales playbook template
By this point, you've got a solid idea of what your sales playbook should include. What you might not be so certain about is how you'll package so much information in one document.
It's a tricky situation: You don't want it to be overwhelming (to the point where it becomes a chore to read), yet you also want to arm your sales department with enough information to be productive.
The good news? You don't have to start from scratch.
Simply add your information and create more pages, and you'll create your own professional sales playbook that's almost ready to distribute across your entire team:
Source: Bright business ebook template
The sales playbook you create in Lucidpress is totally secure. Links are protected, meaning only your team can access it—and it's not visible to Joe Bloggs if the link accidentally goes public.
3 tips for maximizing the value of your playbook
By this point, you've got a fancy-looking document that's in review—and almost in the hands of your sales team.
Take some time to check whether your sales playbook is easy to read. Nobody is going to extract value from your document if they can't understand it, right?
Here are three incredible tips you can use to maximize the value of your sales playbook.
1. Deliver a mini-training when introducing your playbook
Chances are, your sales team won't read your playbook if they aren't motivated to do it. But, you don't want to be jumping down their throats or sending daily reminders to open your playbook. Both of those are a total waste of time.
That's why you should consider delivering a mini-training when you're introducing it. Bring your playbook up on the big screen and invite the entire department to see it. Then, run through the entire playbook from start to finish, and end with an ask for questions.
That way, you can spot areas that need improving before they start regularly referencing it.
2. Don't start from scratch
It's easy to get carried away with your sales playbook template and want to overhaul your entire sales process. However, starting from scratch could do more harm than good.
Start by analyzing the content you already have, instead.
Does your team already use email or phone call templates? Do you have a branding guidelines document that you send to freelancers? Did your CEO record a video on why they started the company in the first place?
Each of these sales playbook features can be copied and pasted—saving time and effort.
3. Ask for feedback
Whether your cold email script has an extra comma or you're missing a key trait your typical customer has, some issues are easier to spot when you get a second opinion.
That second opinion should come from your experienced sales reps, because they're the people who know your target customers inside out, and they likely have their own techniques proven to nudge a lead into purchasing your product or service.
However, you should get feedback from all staff, not just your best sales reps.
Why? Because other members of staff are likely experienced with each part of your sales playbook. For example: While a sales rep might have a cold email template, it's wise to have a copywriter look over it for any spelling mistakes or recommendations to make it easier to understand.
So, invite your:
- CEO or founder
- Copywriting team
- Product marketers
...to glance over your sales playbook template before you begin to roll it out.
It sounds simple, but it's a fantastic way to prevent small mistakes from becoming big, conversion-blocking problems.
As you can see, creating a winning sales playbook isn't an easy task for any sales manager.
You'll have to dive in and analyze your sales process, create solid buyer personas, and give a full rundown on how to use your product or service before it becomes a lead-dripping ultimate guide.
But as hard work it is, remember it's the only document your entire team will need to become a sales powerhouse—and grow your business at a rate you've never seen before.