4 Steps to Creating the Modern Sales Playbook
When you’re a product marketer, sales reps are among your most important allies.
They are key drivers of revenue, and they are an important source of information on positioning, messaging and buyer needs. Plus, for most product marketers, sales success determines your success. If they don’t hit their revenue targets, neither do you.
A large part of a product marketer’s job is to translate product specs into buyer and market value, which turns them into subject-matter experts on how to sell a company’s products and services. Because of this, they also play a major role in enabling sellers to succeed. But there’s an age-old problem that every product marketer has faced, and it often determines whether a go-to-market plan succeeds or fails. That problem: how to turn sales content into sales results.
Who’s Creating Content?
Sellers often misunderstand the role of product marketing. Sales reps commonly confuse “product marketer” with “content creation robot”—a role they expect to be available at all times to create bespoke content for fast-approaching sales meetings that will likely get used once and never again.
If you haven’t received a request like this yet, you likely will. Sales teams don’t mean to be difficult—they just have a lot on their plates. When marketing throws content over the wall to sales, it’s unrealistic to expect sellers to have the time to guess the goals, target audience, key messaging and ideal delivery times. With the pressure on reps to hit revenue numbers, they just don’t have the time to do extra legwork.
The traditional answer to this problem has been for sales and marketing teams to collaborate and create the infamous sales playbook. Yes, that playbook—the one that is more “book” than “play.” It is that monolithic sales resource that requires hours of blood, sweat and tears and multiple stakeholder meetings to get out the door. And, when it does, it inevitably lands with a resounding “thud.” Even if the sales playbook does get used by sellers, it’s typically outdated the minute it’s published. In today’s fast-moving market with faster-moving buyers, that approach no longer works.
4 Best Practices to Follow
So, what is the key to bringing content, training and guidance together in a modern form that gets used, automatically updates, and provides insights and feedback on performance? Enter the modern sales playbook.
Create yours by following these four best practices.
Contextualize Your Modern Playbook
Modern buyers come to sales interactions more prepared than ever before. In fact, nearly 70 percent of sales reps report they are experiencing more complex sales processes. Like sellers, modern playbooks need to evolve with the changing sales environment to stay ahead.
Product marketers can prepare reps to succeed by sharing the deep customer knowledge they possess. With customer feedback research, frequently asked questions, buyer personas, and positioning or messaging statements that convert prospects to buyers, product marketers can create and provide sales content that is relevant to sellers’ specific needs for each specific situation.
In this age of the connected customer, the buyer’s journey has taken priority over the old-school, rigid sales cycle. The idea of “one-size-fits-all” sales content will not work anymore. The more informed the seller is, the better they can adapt and tailor their approach to successfully engage modern buyers.
Adapt to the Buyer’s Process
Because the modern buyer comes prepared with research and expectations, the sales process must align with the buying process. All of the work that goes into getting a product launch ready can also help the sales team adapt to buyers’ needs. Product marketers, with their knowledge of the customer and market, can predict what moves prospects might make and questions they might ask. Few people know what buyers want more than the product marketer; nobody has more insight into what prospects need.
When product marketers weave this intel into sales content, they can help reps close deals. Transferring this knowledge into adaptable sales content and an easily accessible playbook helps reps move prospects farther along the sales pipeline. When product and content marketers work together, they can provide the sales team with clear, repeatable plays that align closely with the buyer’s needs and expectations.
Only Keep What’s Working
A sales playbook needs to provide reps with the most necessary information. No seller wants to sift through pages and pages of extra material every time a new question comes up. To optimize sales content, the playbook should maintain only the best content.
Product marketing teams can help make sure that this happens. Using their data and insight, they can regularly revise the plays to make sure they meet each prospect’s current needs. Like content, customers are not “one-size-fits-all,” so the best way to optimize sales content is to make sure it’s relevant, useful and effective.
Marketers also can keep track by following the patterns of the strongest salespeople. By looking at what content they use and how they use it, you’ll find repeatable behavior that you can analyze and turn into plays.
The Missing Ingredient
All of this may sound great, but it can only work when sales and marketing teams stay on the same page—and we all know that can be difficult. In addition to the staggering rates of unused content, sales reps have reported they spend 40 percent of their time searching for or creating content. Where is the disconnect happening? Why are content teams spending time (and the company’s money) to create materials that won’t be used? And why are reps creating more content instead of partnering with the teams that do this?
Companies hurting from lack of alignment need sales enablement. No other tool brings all of the necessary teams together like sales enablement does. With this resource, content marketers can easily access product data and research to give reps the relevant and contextualized content they need. In addition, content and product marketing teams can access and analyze sales data to see what content works and what doesn’t, allowing them to update or even remove pieces of content when needed.
With sales enablement, product marketers can deliver content with context through an accessible modern sales playbook. All of this will help save time, optimize sales content and increase revenue.