Do You Have a Sales Operations Playbook?

What is a Sales Operations Playbook
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If the answer is no, then why not??!

First things first – what is a Sales Operations Playbook?

A Sales Operations Playbook is a collection of instructions and descriptions about how you manage and operate your sales activity. It will include your sales processes, your sales cycle, your sales resources, your methodologies and your approach to selling.

Is a Sales Operations Playbook the same as a Sales Playbook?

Not quite – for us, a Sales Playbook is all about how to go and sell something – whether that’s a company, a product or a service. It’s all about how to position your product, manage objections, pose questions to your customers and find out about what resources are open to you. It’s a bible for salespeople.

But, a Sales Operations Playbook gets into the nuts and bolts of the selling activity within your organization. It explains how things should be done and who is going to do those things.

It’s the blueprint for your sales function.

If the Sales Playbook is WHAT you are selling, a Sales Operations Playbooks is HOW you’re selling it.

Why would I need a Sales Operations Playbook?

Say you’re setting up a new team, or you want to get all your ducks in a row when it comes to your sales department, you might decide to create a Sales Operations Playbook that explains all of your sales processes, tools and resources.

For example, your Sales Ops Playbook might include your sales enablement approach, including your defined sales process and cycle (including decision gates and each cycle step’s qualifying criteria), your deal review process, your partner deal registration process and much more.

You wouldn’t want to put all of this detail into a sales playbook – and these processes and details will apply to your different products and services (unless you have different processes for product areas – for example, physical products might require in-person demos compared to virtual services that you deliver).

How would a Sales Ops Playbook help me?

A Sales Operations Playbook would help by getting all your sales process info down into one simple document – showing everyone involved in the sales process how your company endeavours to sell; the tools they use; the steps they follow; the methodologies they observe; and the people who do it.

It ensures everyone is on the same page and the process of creating the playbook helps you to see what is missing from your sales processes and activities. You might uncover that there’s a gaping hole at one stage of the sales cycle where you haven’t thought properly about what resources and info needs to be applied at this stage.

Let’s look at an example.

Say you have listed out your 5 step sales cycle and find that at the negotiate stage, you don’t have any criteria listed for what would mean the sales opportunity could move to the next sales stage. This might prompt you to discuss with other stakeholders about what these decision criteria might be.

Alternatively, you might have listed out all the resources available to Sales Managers for their coaching sessions and realise you’re missing some content for onboarding Sales Managers themselves.

How should I start creating one?

The first step is trying to document everything to do with how you do sales. What does a typical customer interaction look like? What is a typical sales process? How do you handle product demo requests? How do you engage with resellers?

What’s your onboarding process for new salespeople? Where do salespeople go to find out information about your products?

Then, once you have all of this info, start to organize it like you would if you were explaining to someone new to your company how the sales function works.

Remember, the aim isn’t to create a Sales Playbook where you’re explaining how to sell a product or solution, so you shouldn’t be including any product information here – more that you should be showing how your sales department operates; across people, tools, processes and content.

So do I need a Sales Playbook or a Sales Operations Playbook?

Well, you kinda need both. They go hand in hand. But, to make things that little bit clearer, I’ve listed out a few reasons why you might need one or another to help you decide what is right for you.

Situation 1: You want to create a new onboarding plan for salespeople, where reps spend time working in the different departments across your business >> You need a Sales Operations Playbook that sets out your onboarding process for new salespeople.

Situation 2: You’ve set up a new sales team to focus on the Healthcare sector and want to train them in how to position your product to Healthcare clients >> You need a Sales Playbook focused on the Healthcare industry.

Situation 3: All of your sales processes are informal and aren’t recorded anywhere. You’re thinking about selling the company and want to get all the processes documented to give any potential company acquirer a blueprint of how to run your business >> You need a Sales Operations Playbook that details the inner workings of your sales department.

Situation 4: You’re hiring your first sales team and want to put in place processes and training to welcome the new hires >> You need BOTH a Sales Operations Playbook and a Sales Playbook to show how your new team will operate and to train them in how to sell your products.

Hopefully that’s answered some questions about Sales Operations Playbooks and helped to distinguish them from Sales Playbooks!

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