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Revolutionizing Sales Playbooks

Revolutionizing Sales Playbook Webinar RecordingThe following is a transcription from DSG’s recent webinar "Revolutionizing Sales Playbooks" featuring Sharon Little, Sales Enablement Analyst at SiriusDecisions and Tanner Mezel, VP of Strategy & Marketing at DSG. Or, you can watch the webinar recording.

The following has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Tanner Mezel: This is Tanner Mezel with DSG. I'm the head of Strategy and Marketing for the firm, been here for the past 16 years. I spend most of my time working with marketing and product leaders, sales enablement executives, sales trainers, and sales operations that are focused on enabling sales people to implement big ideas for growth. All of our clients are B2B companies changing strategies, doing new things to grow the company, and looking for every possible way to align their sales team with those strategies for growth. We'll be talking a lot today about Sales Playbooks and what we're seeing, and what Sharon Little is seeing around how companies are revolutionizing the whole approach to Playbooks.

Sharon Little is an analyst within the Sales Enablement Strategies Practice of SiriusDecisions, completely focused on B2B sales enablement. Some of the areas in which I've learned a lot from Sharon have been around sales onboarding. She's seen a lot around sales transformation, sales enablement technology. In particular today, we're interested in her perspectives on the Playbook area. Sales Playbooks mean a lot of different things to different organizations and different individuals. It means everything from apps to PDFs to PowerPoints and probably a lot of different things in between.

I think for those of us on the webinar today, some of us have seen Playbooks get traction. Some of us have been really frustrated when they're not used or they get outdated or it's hard to update and change those Playbooks. For today’s conversation we’ll dig into two things: number one is getting into the concept of Playbooks being mobile, Playbooks being interactive, and Playbooks being video based, and how different organizations are moving forward in those areas. Secondly, we'll get into specific steps that we're seeing organizations and how Sharon's seeing organizations make Playbooks more friendly for salespeople, more engaging, how they're creating and updating Playbooks, how they're driving at option, and most importantly, how we measure the impact.

 

Big Ideas

Big Ideas for Sales Change

The first topic is Big Ideas. What I wanted to do was really couch this whole webinar around the concept of what's your big idea, for your company, for your organization? What's the big idea for growth? That really is the right starting point is, is the growth around new product? Is the strategy around moving the solutions? Is it a new message? Is it leading more insightful conversations? Is it working with partners? Which of these big ideas are really going to grow your business? The question I had for Sharon was just what does it look like in a B2B environment for an organization to implement their next big initiative? What does it take? That's a topic you've thought a lot about.

Sharon Little: Thanks, Tanner, and hi, everybody. I'm real excited to be here today and excited to be talking about this whole area of Playbooks. Playbooks are very much the bread and butter for a sales enablement team. It's really about making sure that your sales reps have everything that they need to execute flawlessly when they're talking to customers. I think where we often miss the opportunity of taking Playbooks from more of an executable or deliverable to something that's truly strategic is not doing our homework on the front end and making sure that we are tied to that big initiative, that we do understand what's strategic for the business, and fundamentally making sure that we have our Playbook tethered to revenue.

The Sales Conversation Divide

The Sales Conversation Divide

Tanner Mezel: I think that's critical. I think that notion of tying it to revenue is really the most important way that Playbooks gain momentum. One of the concepts that we've seen really many of our client organizations rally around is this notion of the conversation divide. For DSG we'll see companies in high tech, business services, manufacturing, healthcare, would be some of the manufacturing, the big industries, but the conversation divide would just say that, think about the “Big Ideas.” We have these strategies; we have these marketing campaigns; sometimes we're changing our sales approach, and a Playbook approach is what's supposed to bridge that divide.

How can a Playbook bridge that divide? How would you measure if you bridge that divide and that it was really turning into salespeople having the right conversations, they're telling the right story, they really mastered your message, and whether it's a product story or an enterprise story, or a specific solution or vertical, they're on message?

Sharon Little: It's interesting, looking at the graphic that you have up here, that's quite the chasm between those two groups. It looks like a potentially very dangerous place to be. I can't imagine anyone who's joined us today on this call hasn't been through a scenario where they've gone through a product launch, put significant effort and some real dollars behind a Playbook, and just literally have seen it go nowhere. You take a look back 12 months later, 18 months later, and really end up scratching your head as to why this didn't work. We're going to spend a little bit of time on that today, but making all this work, you oftentimes will see parts of the organization coming at this with their own agenda. 

Certainly, the Product Team representing a set of products that maybe isn't the core product to gain mindshare with Sales. Enablement is trying to please a number of different audiences, so maybe throwing work after something that's not necessarily ever going to bear fruit. I will tell you that a couple of places where we see clients missing the mark is not understanding, A, what the revenue contribution is for a particular executable Playbook. You need to really understand that you're aligning your Playbooks and your deliverables to the numbers that are expected within your organization  [Tweet This] Once you have that tethering taking place, it can make a significant difference. 

The other challenges that we see are not having strong processes in place. There needs to be a standardized process within the organization to really pull all of these elements together. Then finally, one of the other mistakes that we'll see is not including Sales as part of the process.There's nothing like having Sales wisdom woven into your Playbook to make sure that not only are you creating a deliverable that can be used by the Sales team, but those little extra elements of knowledge that only come from being in front of the customer and going through a sales cycle, having those woven into your deliverable, it makes all the difference in the world in terms of the impact that you're going to have with that Playbook. 

Tanner Mezel: Couldn't agree more. I think one thing that would be good to do at this point would be to go a little bit deeper and just talk about the specific types of, "selling motions" would be a term that we hear, "selling plays," "sales plays," "key plays"…

Sharon Little: There is a lot of verbiage around this, and people will use them interchangeably. It's, candidly, one of the things that companies struggle with. 

Types of Sales Messaging - Consultancy, Examples

Tanner Mezel: They do. I definitely don't know that we've found the perfect term, so today we'll just say "types." There's a range. There are very comprehensive sales strategies; there are very narrowly focused. Sometimes it's an enterprise story. Sometimes it's a specific selling strategy like this vertical or that buyer or persona or this solution or that partner. Sometimes it's more of a very narrow at-a-glance. It could be a product area. It could be an industry, but it's really meant to be a narrowly defined sales strategy. Anything you're seeing across that range of different types of strategies that pops out as more important right now than others or where you're seeing emphasis, Sharon?

Let me offer this. I think it's quite common, especially for companies that crack the code around sales plays and Playbooks, and really you'll have a Playbook that supports a sales play, to once they've created them and had success with them to continue to add to their library

Sharon Little: The other challenges that we see are not having strong processes in place. There needs to be a standardized process within the organization to really pull all of these elements together. Then finally, one of the other mistakes that we'll see is not including Sales as part of the process. There's nothing like having Sales wisdom woven into your Playbook to make sure that not only are you creating a deliverable that can be used by the Sales team, but those little extra elements of knowledge that only come from being in front of the customer and going through a sales cycle, having those woven into your deliverable, it makes all the difference in the world in terms of the impact that you're going to have with that Playbook or portfolio of Playbooks. It's not uncommon for let's say a half a billion or billion dollar company to have 15 to 20 Playbooks that might be in place for their sales team. I think the way that you need to take a look at this is really from a tiering standpoint. You're going to have your core Playbooks that are aligned to the lion's share of your revenue. If you're an organization that's just starting out, if you're a smaller company on a growth track, the fundamentals have to be in place.

Think about where's the revenue coming from this year, and make sure that you have the Playbooks in place to support those.  [Tweet This] Once you've cracked the code on those core Playbooks that support the revenue plan, you can look at what are the ways to slice and dice it going forward. In your business, it might be an industry focus that you need to apply to a Playbook. There might be some emerging growth products that perhaps don't command a lot of revenue today, but you expect that they will down the road. There may be some specific channel versions of your Playbooks that you need to create to represent that particular go to market. You potentially have multiple ways to slice and dice these and multiple audiences, but the fundamentals are make sure that they work for sales and make sure that you have the core revenue products represented.

Tanner Mezel: That's really good. I'm reading here an audience question, "Revenue is deemed a lagging indicator. Playbooks need to be tied to leading indicator KPIs that are intrinsic to management activities with regard to pipeline management. Do you have thoughts on this?"

 I think the heart of that is what do you focus on besides lagging indicators? We would say there's lagging metrics and leading, but why don't you react to that? Later in the webinar, we have a couple of very specific scenarios of organizations we've seen get this right, and we'll get really specific about some of the leading indicators that they tracked. That'll give everybody some ideas to consider.

Sharon Little: I think that revenue is one of those indicators, if you will, that crosses boundaries and can apply both for leading and lagging scenarios. Certainly, actual revenue is a lagging indicator, but projected revenue is not. Every organization that I've worked with has a finance team, a sales operations team, that works really hard at the beginning of the year to put together the revenue plan. Significant work goes into that. The product teams contribute too. All the best minds in your organization come together to agree on what that plan is for the year. That's really what I'm talking about in terms of tethering your Playbooks to revenue. It's the projected revenue plan, not the actual revenue plan.

One of the other versions of Playbooks that you really can take a look at that I think are important, as you take a look at building out pipeline for the plan for the year, in many cases having a Playbook that supports your major campaigns, that drive pipeline, can be another very positive way to invest your time when it comes to Playbooks.

Tanner Mezel: I'd like to move to a poll on this topic. The poll is, which selling motions or plays are being prioritized for your business? The poll options are: Enterprise, Solution, Partner, Industry, Persona. 

“Solution” is in first place. "Enterprise" and "industry" are tied for second. I'm going to go talk about the different ways we'll see organizations organize around some of those and some concepts for how to think about the kind of Playbook content for those three areas. Before I do that, if you want to make any observations. Any surprises, like what you thought you'd see or any reactions to those percentages?

Sharon Little: Yes, my reaction is really it sounds like there's some folks have definitely dived into this, which is outstanding. We're going to get to some advanced level discussion around Playbooks as we continue through the webinar. Excellent to see. The focus on enterprise and solution I think is where most companies start. Then you start to see the more sophisticated versions of Playbooks and the slicing and dicing continue as you move into some of those areas.

What Should go in a Sales Playbook?

Tanner Mezel: If you said what's been something we've seen consistently across our clients that has been a way to think about a practical approach that's very sales friendly to how content would be organized for a solution message, and 60% of the participants in the webinar focused on that area, one way to think about it is if this is your stereotypical salesperson, and they're going to be having meetings every day, and they're going to need just in time training on their laptop, their tablet, what is it they would be seeing? 

Sales Playbook - Framework, Digital, Business

What would they be watching? What would they be listening to on their Playbook that would really be their guide and would make it easier, would make them faster in terms of preparing for and leading the right solution conversations? This is going to seem so simple, and it is, and it's supposed to be. The concept is what would a salesperson need to know about that solution, about the industry, and about the customer they're talking to for that solution? What do you do in terms of discovery or tactics? For that solution, what do you say? Are there certain stories, are there certain insights, are there certain questions or proof points? What do you show?

If you're in the meeting, should you go to video? Should it be an animated model, maybe in a slide deck? Should it be an infographic? Should you use some sort of a whiteboard or a visual that you draw to lead an interactive discussion that these four areas become a way to really boil it down and say, what is it a salesperson really needs to master this solution and go implement that selling motion or that specific sales strategy? We're going to move into an example of a real Playbook and some of the trends we're seeing around Playbooks and show some examples from different organizations. As we move into that, any reactions to these four areas, Sharon, before we get into some of the specific ideas?

Sharon Little: I think this is fantastic. When you look at the build out of a Playbook and the process that you go through, continually asking these kind of questions is what's going to get you an outstanding deliverable at the end of the process. The other thing to keep in mind is just the mapping of all of this. When we talk about Playbooks at SiriusDecisions, we're a lot of times talking about the buyer's journey and making sure that you have the elements, the crossover. Imagine if you're a salesperson and you're referencing a Playbook. Your Playbook not only includes everything that you see on this list, what to know, what to do, what to say, what to show, but also the various stages of the buyer's journey, the activities that demonstrate that that buyer's transitioning from one stage in the buyer's journey to the next.

You may also see the internal sales process that you are expected to follow within your organization. Being able to reference all of that in context as a salesperson, it starts to make this a whole lot easier for you. In every sales engagement there's going to be a number of things that that salesperson has to figure, has to decide with regards to do next, but the more that they're able to use the Playbook not only as a coaching vehicle but a way to really understand how we're moving through this particular engagement, that makes it that much easier for them. It's particularly helpful for new hires into your organization that are still learning how to sell your products.

Tanner Mezel: That's really good. Actually, I'd like to key off of that, just that whole concept of the buyer's journey. One way that we've seen organizations tackle that, I'm going to go into we call it a vPlaybook, or Virtual Playbook, but just get into a concept around that buying process. I'm going to bring a model, and this has been helpful for some of our clients, is that when they think about these Playbooks, it's really about ... This is just one example. There are a million different examples of this, but the idea that we're going to have agreement between Sales and Marketing on who is it we're really trying to engage, different people and roles?

What are those verifiable milestones that Sharon was referring to? These are just generic, but the steps they're going through along the way as they become interested, and define a project, and make a decision. Again, these phases, the amount of time, the levels you're at where maybe sometimes you're at a high level, sometimes you're at a low level, all that would be tailored obviously to your world, and you'd want to think of the buying process very specific to how they would decide to make a change, how would they decide to do it now, how would they decide to do it with you? 

B2B Sales Buying Process Diagram - Sales Content, Message, Chart

What really, really becomes the practical side of that is when the content gets defined by stage. When the customer is in the early stages saying, "Why would I make a change?" maybe there's a whiteboard. Maybe there's an early stage presentation. Internally, what is the educational content, like insights, or talk tracks, or a conversation plan? That content is very different if you're in the final phase and they're making a decision on moving forward and deciding between you and the competition. This notion of customer facing versus internal and what are the basic assets that are needed by phase - that would be a generic example of how we would think about the buyer's journey, Sharon. 

Sharon Little: Very good. All of this goes to process, and you overlay on top of all of this how do your Subject Matter Experts potentially work with your sales enablement team? What is the back and forth? I'm a big fan of having some kind of a process where you can gather all of the knowledge that exists within your company for those folks who are truly experts and start your draft of your Playbook, review it with folks in the field, and you go back and forth a couple of times until you come up with your truly excellent deliverable. The first Playbook is always the hardest. 

Sales Playbook Trends

Tanner Mezel: It is; you're right. Let's go look at some Sales Playbook Trends. What I want you to be thinking about right now as a participant is which of these topics would you like me to spend and Sharon to spend extra time on? Obviously, there's not time to cover all this. We just briefly talked a little bit about buying process and organizing around the buyer's journey. We see a lot happening around video and using video to engage salespeople. It's the whole YouTube effect.  [Tweet This]

Sales Playbook Trends - Virtual, Business

We're all used to going to YouTube to learn how to do something new. I like to backpack with my kids, and before any trip I'm going to think of three or four things I may want to remember how to do or haven't done before. I'm going to go watch a two minute video, and that's going to be a whole lot better than reading a bunch of material for me.

Visual selling - how do I go to a whiteboard or flip chart or use an animated graphic or use some sort of a model that's going to be able to lead that conversation visually and make the conversation a lot stickier, because I'm tying the right messages to a visual that brings it to life?

Leading with insight - having a conversation that helps the customer realize they've got a different problem, a different dilemma, that they really need to address that we can attach to.

And then mobile, that's content available anywhere and any time. I think we've got a poll on this topic. Before we go to the poll, did you want to make any observations? Are there some of these trends that you're seeing even more happening or changing around than others, Sharon? 

Sharon Little: Yes, let me talk a little bit if I could around video and mobile. It's interesting. I think even just a couple of years ago, mobile was still considered a nice to have rather than a must have. At this stage, we're seeing salespeople, even those folks who've been around since before we had this kind of technology to support us, really starting to expect to be able to access what they need to do their jobs through various mobile devices, whether we're talking about tablets or whether we're talking about phones. If that's not an area you're able to expose your content on in your Playbooks, I would definitely look to prioritize that.

Video's another one of these things. You mentioned YouTube. This is absolutely the case now where more and more, especially with best class type of scenarios, we're seeing content in video format as opposed to written format. There's something about it that's just easily consumable. If you're a sales rep and you're really learning how to do a presentation, reading about it is one thing. Seeing one of your peers or someone senior within your company giving that presentation is a whole another way of learning that just, again, makes it easy to consume and seems to really accelerate the learning process for reps. I would place both mobile and video as priorities when it comes to Playbooks.  [Tweet This]

Tanner Mezel: That's super helpful, Sharon. Thanks. Let's go to the poll. Pick one of these areas that in particular you want to go deeper on. We'll not get to go deep on all five, but just what are the ones that are a focus for you? Then we'll share some examples that bring some of this to life. Ok, big focus on insight selling; no surprise there. 

2016 Sales Enablement Trends

I think whatever term is used, there is clearly a significant shift to, "I'm a salesperson. I need to go into a meeting and be able to not lead with product, not lead with just questions, but really have a conversation the customer would find valuable." We can definitely dig into that topic. Buying process, we started talking about that. We can talk some more about that. Mobile clearly is up there. Any comments on these responses, Sharon, before we go look at some examples?

Sharon Little: Yes, what we're seeing more and more is this trend toward these predictive models. If you think about insight selling, for example, your sales rep has to not only know your industry and your products and solutions, but they have to understand the broader industry, the business issues that face your customer. It's a substantial knowledge burden that we're placing on our salespeople, in addition to everything that they need to know to sell. To have these very prescriptive Playbooks that can support them in that process is not just nice to have, it's really critical if you're expecting these guys to wrap up and be successful in a reasonable period of time.

 

Sales Playbook Example

Tanner Mezel: Perfect. Let's transition back over here to this tool. What we're inside of, just so you understand what I'm clicking around in, we have a web app called vPlaybook. It just stands for Virtual Playbook, or Video Playbook. Just to make it clear what we're talking about, when we say Virtual Playbook, we're talking about something that looks like this, whether it's the vPlaybook app we'll use today to show all this or some other app that you already have in place or that you're going to purchase in the next year.

Digital Sales Playbook - What does a sales playbook look like? 

It's the concept that a salesperson, whether they're going to go review that content on this laptop or on that tablet or on their phone, they're going to get a similar experience, and it's going to respond based on the device they're using. They're able to watch video, consume content, get smart, prepare for insightful conversation. That is the concept - just in time training that salespeople can get from any device, and that's what we're going to move into now. We're going to go look at a real example of a mobile Playbook. We're going to go into a very successful made up company, Acme.

Example Digital Playbook, vPlaybook

The content in this Acme Playbook is really just derivative from lots of different organizations that we've seen over the last number of years. There's different videos of our clients and content they've created, all genericized for Acme, but to make this real so you get a sense of what are we seeing working across clients. One of the questions we got that I think is a good setup for this is, "Did I hear correctly, start with the generic baseline Playbook, then refine the key plays, or is it best to start with, for example, a specific channel?" I would say that one of the things we see most often is in a Playbook like this, and let's say that it's meant to enable you to lead with insight, because that's a topic from the poll that's very important to a lot of people on the call today.

It really is about saying, is senior leadership wanting to focus on a core solution or two where we think we could build a lot of momentum? Or is it a new product that has to get to specific revenue targets in the next 12 months? Or is the issue that no one can sell across the whole product portfolio as the enterprise story? I would say it's most important to start with, what is the sales strategy that has the attention of sales leadership, that presents a significant growth opportunity? Then of course, you'd say, what channel? Is it the direct channel? Is it for partners? It's really starting with, what is that play?

Think about these areas over on the left. This is just navigation. If a salesperson was on an iPad or they were on a laptop, they would go to a simple navigation to go to a section. Let's just say, for example, since insight selling was something that a lot of you voted on as being a topic you care about, if we were to click on the section called Trends, this would be an area where a salesperson would go in a Virtual Playbook to get smart on a specific set of trends that they should be talking to their customers about. I'm going to keep this muted so that none of this content is distracting, but you can see here in this Playbook a salesperson would be able to watch a video of someone talk about the trends that are happening across the industries that we're serving.

Example Digital Playbook Section

They could go into one of these trends and get smart and say, "Okay, I'm going to talk about big data. What are some of the questions I'm going to ask? What are some of the insights? There's some provocation, but I've got really simple content that I can use to get smart before a meeting and say, you know, I really think this is a topic they're going to care about. I don't want to start with me or product. I want to go in and start with an insight, an idea, something that's happening in their environment, something their competitors are doing, something that's happening at a level that maybe they can't control, and it's creating opportunity or a dilemma for them."

We call that give to get, so you're going to give some insight to get dialogue. This would be a good example of the kind of content we'll see organizations create in their Virtual Playbooks that would enable that more insight led approach. While we're in a real section here, Sharon, is there any comment you want to make on this, any questions you have on that?

Sharon Little: No. I mean I think the thing that's really nice about it is the layout here is it particularly works for many different types of salespeople. One of the things that you have to pay attention to when you're running sales enablement is just, how do our teams like to learn? How do they like to consume content? What's going to make it easy for them? The fact that you have with the visual component here, you have the bullet points which is, again, very much how sales reps like to see content displayed. You have even the whiteboard components of this. I really like it.

Tanner Mezel: Let's go to another section relevant to insight selling. To use a term that Sirius uses quite a bit around personas is, who is the persona? Who is the target buyer that I'm going to be engaging? One of the things that we'll see a lot of is setting up that really clearly for a sales team. For example, this the head of Sales for one of our clients. He is explaining who we're selling to and why. He's talking about these four audiences down below.

"We're targeting IT. We're targeting Analytics. We're targeting a sales leader." If you go into any of those audiences, you're getting very specific guidance on when you sell to that IT leader that's pretty progressive - here's how you do it. It's really about pulling together very practical guidance in the video that takes the mystery out of it for a salesperson. You have content below for the readers that really want to go deeper, and an easy way to take five minutes to get ready for a conversation with someone, a particular audience, when you're trying be insightful versus talk about product. 

Digital Playbook Example Section, Persona

Sharon Little: Yes, this is such an area that companies struggle with. You'll see Marketing put a lot of effort into building out the personas. You'll see sales leadership a lot of time talk about breaking into, say, the office of the CFO to sell higher and to a CIO. Yet because that's not an area of comfort sometimes for a sales team, those things can be difficult to reinforce and to translate. When you have a tool like this, it's very consumable in a just in time kind of format, so as they're getting those types of opportunities, they can really go in and prepare themselves in providing greater confidence and making that translation from, Hey, this is something we really need to do to something that they're actually doing.

Tanner Mezel:  I'm going to only pick one more section. I'm going into this Visual Selling area because it's related to insight selling, and it would be a very good example of how to have an insightful conversation.

Some of our clients would refer to their visual selling approach as whiteboarding. Some of them would have an animated PowerPoint with a really neat graphic that brings the concepts to life. It's the notion that you're giving the team a lot of clarity on how to engage. For this particular client example, the  executive is in a video up top saying, "PowerPoint's boring. Don't kill customers with PowerPoint and questions. We want to go in with ideas. We want to go in with a model. We want to be able to draw a picture that creates a discussion that helps them see a better way."

Over on the left, there is some content around the provocation, the themes, the dilemma. There is a storyboard that shows you what salespeople would draw step-by-step and a visual of what that looks.

Digital Sales Playbook Example, Visual Selling

The idea is that whatever you're asking salespeople to do, to create videos of salespeople doing realistic conversation examples, and providing more information below like talking points and questions to tailor, not memorize.

Bring to life the notion of "I'm going to lead with insight." "I'm going to lead this interactive discussion." "I'm going to help the customer understand their dilemma before I really get into exactly what we do, and illustrate the value of our approach."

Sharon Little: This is really taking the Playbook and pulling that golden thread all the way through. It's so important. We talked a little bit earlier about that chasm sometimes that exists between Marketing and Sales. It is critically important to close that chasm and to give these sales folks what they need to be successful in their jobs. It really does take thinking through all of these and delivering an excellent Playbook to support them in the work that they're doing. I want to say too that this is not a one and done kind of activity. Having a Playbook that you put out there, you can't just throw it over the fence and walk away.

The opportunity to fine tune it, to refine it, to figure out what pieces work, to adjust the pieces that maybe don't work, to identify gaps that maybe you hadn't thought of previously, all of that is part of this living and breathing deliverable called a Playbook that is so instrumental to your organization being able to continue to hit their numbers, being able to adjust what you're doing from a strategy standpoint to things that happen the market and acquisition, something major happening with a competitor, a new product introduction. All of these things are a reality in today's fast pace of business, and being able to have these comprehensive and yet flexible Playbooks are what allow you to stay on top of it.

Tanner Mezel: Agreed. The last question we had was, "Are assets housed in this app, like a content repository?" There's two ways that we'll see clients use this app.

One way is they will have links to different assets. For example, they might go to a section like Resources, and there might be a picture of a too; with a description, and you click on a link that takes you to the tool. You could have links to content inside your content management system or library. There are a number of ways to directly integrate content or to link out to it if you had some other structure that you wanted to build around. 

Other clients would have that tool open inside the vPlaybook, a PDF or a spreadsheet for example. Some of our clients will use the Resource Drawer that shows up as a paperclip icon in the corner. And on every section, every page, they can attach resources.

Who Should Create a Sales Playbook?

Let's start talking about who creates these things. Sharon, you talked a lot about the importance of who's involved. You talked earlier about Sales being directly involved. Any other comments you'd want to make about who should be involved in Playbook creation to ensure that it's used and it's right?

Sharon Little: Sure. Truly, if you have a Sales Enablement function in place, this is something that they should own directly. In some organizations, navigating all of the stakeholders is fairly straightforward and easy. In others, it can be quite challenging because folks tend to have a lot of opinions and very much are advocates for what it is that they represent, particularly if you're coming from the Product side of the organization. In those kind of environments, I'll often recommend to our clients they potentially engage a third party or a consultant to help them get their first Playbook done. The first Playbook is always the hardest Playbook.

Getting the Playbooks right is critically important. Once you've figured out the formula for it, it becomes much easier to replicate. Just to give you an idea for those of you who haven't been through it before, I generally talk to folks about this six week process to go through from inception to being able to deliver a Playbook. Keep that in mind as you're looking to explore this kind of thing. If you don't have an enablement team in place, you can create this cross-functional group. I would certainly recommend someone who's an advocate from the product side and then someone from the sales side being involved. Ultimately, you don't want to deliver this until you've got field signing off on the Playbook.

Creating Sales Playbook

Tanner Mezel: I couldn't agree more. We've been through a number of projects over the years where it's purely Sales Enablement or purely Marketing or purely Product, and we get a good tool, a good Playbook, but we never have that level of support and buy-in that was needed to really get it off the ground and build a groundswell of support that Sales leaders are actually driving.

If anyone wants to learn more about the process that organizations go through to align around a Playbook structure, getting the right people across functions to create it, refine it, and validate it...reach out. You have Sharon. You can reach out to me. We'd be happy to share more. 

Sales Playbook Adoption?

I've seen a couple of questions now around the adoption piece of all this. I think it would be good just to switch to that. How do companies make this stick? What do you do on the front end, and the back end, and launch that actually ensures that we get to some tangible results? I'll make some general comments here, Sharon, and then maybe you could make some observations or go more specific. 

These are real pictures from different training sessions we've been a part of where people are in a room and they're practicing what's in their Playbook.

Sales Playbook Training - B2B, Experiential

They're sharing. They're learning from each other. They're doing role plays. They're digging in, but it's really about experientially learning what's in that Playbook with your peers and with your manager. When you think about a major launch, getting people together for experiential training; it's difficult to replace that. Anything else about launching a Playbook that helps with adoption, Sharon? 

Sharon Little: I would definitely reinforce those components and, really, the two other pieces of it that you want to take a look at is, how can you leverage those first line managers as part of almost your extended enablement team to reinforce and support use of the Playbooks? Getting those folks to understand how to facilitate and coach based on the Playbook is really critical. Making sure that they're all onboard with the Playbook and that they use it with their teams, that makes a huge difference. I think organizationally, how is the Playbook impacting your numbers? Can you see a correlation between what you've delivered in the Playbook and what's happening within your pipeline and your forecast, and being able to communicate those metrics across the organization can make a big difference as well.

Tanner Mezel: Agreed. As you think about these elements of how you get sales managers involved, how you do initial training and ongoing training on the Playbook, and a lot of that is going to have to be On-Demand training. Do you have the right Playbook approach? The right app you can deliver content through keeping the content fresh so it doesn't get stale? There are a number of apps, including the vPlaybook app we looked at today, where it's easy to update content on the screen by an editor. It's easy to make a copy of a Playbook that's your recipe book for future Playbooks. You make one. That may have been the hardest, but now you have a model you can use over, and over, and over again very efficiently and then keep that content refreshed.

We've found that there's a process, called "Sustain" that works. We've documented the process. There's some research we've done and some briefs we've created. If you'd like to learn more about sustaining a Playbook approach, we'd be happy to share that.

One of the questions that we got was, "Can you talk about how you globalize all this?" We've seen clients do it two ways. We see clients that build Playbooks globally from the beginning, and they involve international stakeholders from the different geographies. We've seen clients that have started in EMEA and then customized a Playbook for U.S. or customized for Asia-Pacific, sometimes even customized by country. 

Sharon Little: No, this certainly sounds like a very well thought out process. I would imagine that everyone listening today can understand woven through all the comments that we've made that there's a fair amount of detail and process associated with this. This is a project. It's an ongoing project. We sometimes make it analogous to what a company might do around a software release, because the Playbook never goes away. You build it once, and then you're living with it over a period of time and constantly updating it and changing it.

Tanner Mezel: Some of our clients will keep the content all in English. We've seen other clients that will add subtitles for videos and change all the text to the new language. It really depends on the organization that we're working with and the degree to which how localized the content needs to be. That's a critical question in this process. 

One of the ways we saw a client we serve measure adoption and really connect it to value is SITA. They've been a client for a few years. I would say that they in many ways set the bar in terms of taking tracking and accreditation and connecting the results seriously.

Number one is they've used the vPlaybook web app to track activity, popular content, and time in Playbook. They've had a whole certification approach that's tied into Salesforce. For example, individuals doing whiteboard conversations, getting that next meeting. There's a whole list of playbook activities they've tracked. 

Sales Playbook Success Example

Year one following roll out, they were really focused on net new deals added to pipeline. Year two continued to focus on pipeline, but I'll put a star by it, the real thing they tracked into a lot of reporting on was, "Can we correlate individuals who were certified on activities that were tied to the Playbook? Are the certified reps having higher performance levels than the non-certified?" They had a 3x correlation.

If you haven't heard of SITA, they provide software and services to airlines and airports of the world and a whole range of solutions, but they put a number of resources on specific activities that make that possible. Is that similar to things you've seen or have you seen other approaches, Sharon? 

Sharon Little: This certainly sounds like a very well thought out process. I would imagine that everyone listening today can understand woven through all the comments that we've made that there's a fair amount of detail and process associated with this. This is a project. It's an ongoing project. We sometimes make it analogous to what a company might do around a software release because the Playbook never goes away. You build it once, and then you're living with it over a period of time and constantly updating it and changing it based on how that works for your business. The process is really what saves you, the process and the measurement, the analysis. If we tie it back to the very beginning of the conversation that we had when the webinar started out, this is where it becomes strategic.

The adoption piece is critical to get them to use it, but then how is it impacting your ability to hit your numbers? Are you able to fine tune and adjust your Playbook so that you can accelerate deals from one stage in the sales cycle to the next more quickly than you are currently? All of this becomes potentially very powerful for the business and having tight processes around your Playbook, tight metrics around your Playbook, this is what makes it powerful.

Tanner Mezel: Yes. To the question we had earlier, SITA did a good job of having individuals from Sales Operations, people that were in the lines of business, the Product areas, and Sales all involved along the way. So getting them into workshops, doing alignment meetings at the senior level to make sure we're all agreeing on what these Playbooks are intended to do, and what we're going to measure and track, and making the connection between the Playbook effort and sales training effort to what results we're actually getting. Getting senior alignment on all that is what makes it all possible.

Sales Playbook Impact

There's a lot at the front end you can do that saves a lot of pain later. I'm just going to breeze through this. These were three examples of different industry clients that we served in High Tech, IT Services, and Manufacturing. Always start with the big idea that senior leadership cares about across different Sales, Marketing, and Product functions. Then deciding from the beginning what metric to track that's connected to those big ideas.

Sales Playbook Impact - Examples, Digital

You can see here how these three organizations came up with very specific metrics that tie it back to those big ideas. 

Taking the First Step

Sharon Little: One of the things that I'll offer to all of you that we haven't really talked about just yet is making sure that if you're going to step in this area that you have the appropriate staffing. I think, tragically, Sales Enablement teams are understaffed and underfunded in the majority of companies that I have the opportunity to speak with. Companies are still getting their arms around this and figuring out what this should look like. If you're going to step into Playbooks, you really need to have the ability to stay with it over a period of time if you're going to see the results. If you're a business-to-business enterprise organization, that period of time is measured in years, not in months or quarters.

That commitment to this, to fund it, to make sure that you have the resources to deliver it, to maintain it, to grow it, are all very, very critical. If you have a scenario where leadership doesn't see this as a priority right now and it's not being funded, you can get started by simply saying, "Let's pilot one. Let's get one done and see the impact and then potentially go from there," but know that once you've had that incredible success with the first one, you'll want to be able to go back and ask for the resources to support it because these are, like we said earlier, living, breathing deliverables and they need care and feeding to continue to be good and to deliver for your organization down the line.

Sales Playbook Budget?

Tanner Mezel: Well said. Here is a question, "Can you provide some insight on cost and who owns the budget?" The budget question is really interesting. We still see a lot of Marketing organizations owning the budget for this because it's a direct extension of their brand, solution, and product strategies. In many of the organizations we've served, Marketing has been the budget owner, but you'll also see a lot of Sales Enablement or Sales Effectiveness type organization that sits inside of Sales Operations perhaps, and they're the liaison. They're the connector between Marketing and Sales.

I'd put Marketing number one. I'd put that Sales Effectiveness or Sales Enablement number two. Then I'd put Product. So, a product owner or product leader that owns the area of the business and is looking to create something that doesn't exist. Anything else you've seen in terms of who owns the budget for this kind of work? 

Sharon Little: It is a little bit all over the place, which I think will evolve over time, especially as folks settle into what Sales Enablement is and where it should exist within the company.

Be prepared certainly to do a little bit of tin cupping early on to defend it and to pay for it, but realize that ultimately, the impact that you could have with something like this. This is a major lever for your business, so whatever the expense or cost is associated with it is a drop in the bucket in terms of what you're going to be able to deliver to the bottom line once you get these Playbooks right. Think about what it means, and work the numbers out on paper, and have a conversation around it. If through a Playbook you can affect the revenue numbers by even just 1%, 2%, 5% for your organization, what that means in terms of real dollars.

Rachel web2017By Rachel Bodayle
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