Sales Playbooks: A Thing of the Past

Mar 15, 2017
3 min read
Sales playbooks have traditionally been the go-to plan for organizations. Learn why it is time for companies to move away from playbooks in their strategy.

This is a guest post written by Robby Halford, Senior Manager of Sales Enablement at Xactly.  It’s time to blow up all the sales playbooks. That’s right. I said it. Blow them up. No one is reading them. As a sales enablement team, you worry endlessly about what it should consist of, you conduct multiple meetings with sales and marketing leaders, and spend your already-limited time putting it together.

Finally, after you've poured countless hours into creating this playbook, you’re left with fifty-something pages, chalk-full of magical (sometimes dense) content meant to help your salespeople close deals faster, deliver the right message, and fill out the right things in your CRM.

You proudly walk this playbook everywhere shouting that this is secret sauce your Sales team needs to make their number. And what do you hear? Crickets. Why? It’s not that the sales team doesn’t care. They most certainly do. The answer is, they just don’t care right now. 

The DIY of Sales

Instead of sending sales reps to a fifty-page document that they’ll like spend an hour searching to find the content they need, what if they could quickly locate the exact chunk of info they need? Even better, why not have a marketing, sales, product leader, or better yet, a respected peer talk it out with them, in under five minutes?

One of the analogies I’ve been floating around the office at Xactly goes something like this: If someone offered you one million dollars to fly a Boeing 787, would you do it? I bet if you were in this very extreme example, you would be jumping on YouTube or Google to find some way to fly that plane – you could even do it from your iPhone.

I’m far from handy around the house. Yet I’ve taught myself how to fix my washing machine by watching someone on YouTube from my phone. The point I’m trying to make is, people are turning to on-demand learning in this modern age of information. Why should your work-life be any different?

The Shift in Learning and Teaching

As sales enablement professionals, we learn to meet our customers where they learn - not how we like to teach. The same goes for ourselves and our team members. Changing the way we package and deliver information can change the way we remember it. Getting away from the traditional face-to-face learning, webinars, and e-learning.

Of course, there is a time and a place for that face-to-face learning. But it’s important to always ask yourself, how are you reinforcing that learning? Face-to-face training is expensive. For example, a sales kickoff event can easily reach a sizeable amount of money for a company.

Depending on what your colleagues get out of it, the money seems small. Providing concrete, digestible takeaways for your employees will reinforce the lessons learned. When a salesperson is preparing for a call, they need to be able to refresh on a concept easily and flawlessly.

Spending hours digging through documents to find the right way to position a product is not effective. Ideally, we’d hope they could find resources to see how the marketing team is suggesting to pitch it. If a sales rep can get inspired by watching how their peers would approach a similar topic. Having that information available quickly will best prepare the salesperson for the call, instead of spending hours reading the content without any validation that they understand what they are reading.

At Xactly, our Inspire sales coaching tool is a mobile-first repository of on-demand content. These resources provide a range of support for our sales team members. They can search content, review concepts quickly, practice what they learned, and get feedback from their manager and peers in real-time, all at their fingertips. Our sales enablement team is focused on keeping learning relevant, timely, and easily consumed.

Playbooks are an outdated way to approach the problems our salespeople are facing today. I suggest slicing and dicing the sales playbook to share it in smaller pieces. Your sales team is going to be able to consume the content with ease, and you’ll be increasing deal wins at a higher velocity.

  • Sales Coaching and Motivation
Karrie Lucero
Karrie Lucero
Content Marketing Manager

Karrie Lucero is a Content Marketing Manager at Xactly. She earned marketing and journalism degrees from New Mexico State University and has experience in SEO, social media and inbound marketing.