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The 5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in Your Sales Playbook

Getting a sales playbook right is one of the first steps to building a strong sales machine. Don't make these 5 mistakes while building one.

Founders, make notes. We are here to share the biggest mistakes that are made while devising a sales playbook.

A sales playbook is the holy grail that gives an end-to-end view of your sales process – from hiring and onboarding your sales team, executing your sales motion to scaling it.

Your rockstar performers already have a lot of ground knowledge. Be it what questions to ask prospects at different stages or what material should be sent out to a prospect from a particular industry, they have developed the know-how to such crucial questions through their experience.

A playbook lays down the set of best practises from A players – all those Eureka moments that helped close tough deals in the beginning are all documented and shared with the new reps.

If new reps have access to all these do’s and don’ts from Day 1, they will be more productive and close that first deal sooner. 

These learnings and strategies are the heart and soul of a playbook, and can act as a friendly mentor to any new rep joining your team as they navigate the sales process.

Whether you already have a sales playbook or are in the process of devising one, we are here to share some of the biggest mistakes that make sales playbooks fail.

1. Not documenting your learnings

Founders have a lot of learning in the initial days through interactions with customers, researching about the market or building the product. The playbook should include this knowledge of what has worked for the company.

You won’t be able to do this overnight. But you need to start articulating it as you start seeing success in the following areas:

  • You have a product that is solving a particular pain point 
  • Your product delights a particular buyer persona in a certain way

Once you have achieved these two things, you need to start documenting your sales process. Answer some specific questions such as:

  • How do you go about doing a solution discussion with your prospect?
  • How do you convince the prospect of the value your product adds to their lives?
  • How do you sell to the prospect?
  • How do you onboard the prospect?
  • How do you implement the product?
  • How do you create a customer support journey post sale?

List down what’s working and what’s not in every step of the sales process. For example, if during a discovery call, one of your A player figures out a particular pattern that has been aiding the move to the next step, it must make an entry into the playbook.

The learnings in the journey of your sales process are unique to your organisation and the knowledge needs to trickle down to everyone else in your company. For that to happen, define your unique sales process very clearly in your playbook.

Most companies fail to map out their unique sales processes, which leads to missing out on deals, or failing to follow a standardized routine for interested prospects. 

Without this documentation, the best practises are never known to everyone, and keep floating like tribal knowledge between the rockstars and is never leveraged by the new reps.

2. Too many floating versions

Onto the second mistake – if companies do manage to build a playbook defining the best practises, there are different versions of it that keep floating around. 

There is no centralised process that takes care of standardising the playbook and making it universal for everyone to follow. 

Too many versions can create confusion and make different teams approach the product and customers in a different manner, creating a non-uniform experience for your prospects.

To make sure your playbook has one single version, you will have to invest in a dedicated sales enablement function that can act as a custodian of that playbook. 

This team can act as that central force that not only creates the playbook, but also maintains one singular version of it so that everyone is on the same page.

3. Not evolving the sales playbook

Playbooks are dynamic by nature. Just like your product matures, your GTM insights develop and the competitive landscape changes, playbooks also need to evolve along with them. But most organisations fail to evolve them.

Your playbook should be tailored according to the kind of deals that you are trying to close. For example, if you are going upstream from an SMB to an Enterprise model, the playbook has to change accordingly. The same strategies that helped you close deals for SMBs will not work for an enterprise model.

It’s important to evolve your playbook as your company, product and the market goes through different stages. This is the way to keep up with the competitive landscape and be ready to face turbulent times with a guide.

The way to do this is to have your playbooks be centrally managed by your enablement function, who can keep updating it as the company graduates from one stage to another.

4. Lack of peer to peer collaboration

Your sales reps are on the field, talking directly to customers, understanding the competition and dealing with the market.

The kind of intel they develop as a customer facing function should not be limited to just them. It needs to be shared with the entire organisation.

For example, the kind of documents or emails that A players are sending to prospects or the kind of questions they are asking in the calls – all of this should be documented and circulated among the new hires. 

Mature reps in the organization must actively participate in building and continuously contributing to your playbooks.

This can be done by passing on the intel of your A players to a central team that can develop the playbook and make this fountain of knowledge accessible to everyone else in a systematic manner. 

5. Not operationalizing your sales playbook

Even if you manage to create a playbook that caters to all the above facets, the biggest challenge is trying to get your team to adopt the playbook in their day to day interactions.

And if you force adoption in some way, how do you know if they are actually leveraging the learnings and applying them in their interactions with prospects?

There is a lack of intelligence when it comes to getting visibility around how your playbooks are getting used. What is working and what’s not goes unnoticed and becomes a big blindspot. 

This is the problem we have picked up at Nektar. We realised this lack of intelligence into playbook visibility and our solution helps organisations to not just document their playbooks, but also operationalize and track their playbook deployment across teams.

To make sure your playbook is working, invest in a system that brings unprecedented visibility and playbook intelligence to your sales reps, managers and leadership. 

Operationalising winning playbooks can help organizations achieve hyper-growth after achieving product-market fit.

If you start applying these tips to your playbook, it can have a massive impact on your revenues. 

At Nektar, we have created a configurable playbook engine that helps drive consistent playbook best practises across your sales teams.

We would love to take you through our solution that has helped improve deal velocity by 20-25% for our clients. 

For more information, shoot us an email at [email protected]


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See revenue execution in Action

“Nektar.ai has helped us operationalize playbooks for our Go To Market teams. Not only do we have clear visibility into the process gaps, but we can proactively and consistently guide the rep into taking the next best action in line with our GTM playbooks.”
Yash Reddy
Chief Business Officer