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Marketing Watchdog Journal
  November 2011, Issue 93

Bruce A. Brien
Featured Article
Are Your Sales Playbooks Institutionalized Dust Collectors? (Part 3 in the Sales and Marketing Alignment Series)
By Bruce A. Brien, VP, Sales Enablement, Bulldog Solutions

This is the third in an ongoing series on sales and marketing alignment. In Part 1, "Salespeople Don't Like Leads," I shared a few examples of companies whose sales and marketing organizations were working well together and some very high-level tips to get the conversation around alignment started in your own organization. Last month, in "You Say Pipeline, I Say Funnel," I explained how to merge a typical sales funnel with a typical marketing funnel around an anchor called "opportunity," resulting in one combined funnel with agreed upon language, and a mechanism—owned by both departments—you can use to continually improve and refine your processes.

Oh Yeah, It's on My List to Read That.

This month I'd like to turn my attention to another sensitive topic between Sales and Marketing—sales playbooks. Let me explain: When I talk to salespeople about playbooks, they often cringe, likely reminded of the fat, dust-covered binder on their bookshelf that they promised themselves they would open but haven't. To them, the playbook is the comprehensive reference encyclopedia for selling at their company, chock-full of product literature, slide presentations, white papers, scripts, elevator pitches and sales training guides for both methodology and process.

When I talk to marketers, on the other hand, they think of the fabulous playbook that they put together for the last campaign, a veritable prescription for success—if only they could just get the sales team to look at it. It explains why the campaign was launched; includes goals and metrics for success; describes exactly what communications and assets the prospect will have received; and finally, gives the sales team a script for what to say when they speak to a prospect that has responded to the campaign.

These marketers are describing what I call campaign playbooks, and they are important. But I'd like to differentiate those tools from sales playbooks, and offer three tips to making sales playbooks usable and effective for the sales team.

Three Tips for Creating Effective Sales Playbooks that Don't Collect Dust
  1. Sales owns the content, not Marketing.

  2. Keep it simple.

  3. Go vertical.
The first step is to have Sales be the driving force behind the content—not Marketing, or Sales Enablement, or Sales Operations. I recently read about a study that showed that playbooks produced by Sales resulted in 75% higher adoption rates than those produced by any other part of the organization. So make it a point to interview your top salespeople to determine what should be and what should not be in the playbook.

The second step is to keep it simple: Don't try to boil the ocean by including every available piece of sales training documentation, product brochures and presentations, and marketing collateral. The last step is to go vertical by create multiple playbooks, one for each targeted industry vertical. By focusing on specific verticals, you can include content that is more relevant and less generic, which will increase its value with the sales team.

Anatomy of a Vertically-Aligned Sales Playbook

While there's no need to include your sales process and methodology as part of the playbook, you should think about structuring the playbook to support each stage in your specific sales process. This structure will make the playbook easier to navigate and use. Once you have created a structure, you need to create a template to house the vertical content. I like to include the following sections in the vertical portion of the template:
  • Industry background
  • Industry recent news and key developments
  • Industry trends
  • Industry outlook
  • Descriptions of the top three buying personas (get some help from Marketing)
    1. Conversation starters for each buying persona
  • For each stage in your sales process:
    1. Listing of available content with abstract and link
    2. Messaging adapted to the vertical and stage
    3. Strategy support in terms of coaches, SMEs, etc.
    4. Tools support such as surveys, ROI calculators, etc.
By focusing on the information that Sales needs, after having interviewed the top salespeople, and then incorporating all of your findings in vertically focused playbooks that map to each stage of the sales cycle, you will be enabling your sales teams with content that they can actually use, structured in a way that is easy for them to access.

Instead of institutionalized dust collectors, sales playbooks can actually become the primary repository for sales messaging and industry guidance, both of which are critical to the success of a sales team.

More Tools for Creating Successful Sales Playbooks

Webinar: The Essential Sales Playbook

A well-crafted playbook can have exponential impact on Sales' ability to engage and close prospects—a win for both Sales and Marketing.

In this webinar, sales enablement experts share the essential components of an effective sales playbook, including where and how sales playbooks are used for the most impact on closed deals, and specific playbook examples from some of the most successful BtoB companies. View now.

Briefing Document: The Essential Sales Playbook: Helping Sales Close the Deal
Gone are the days of Marketing throwing leads "over the wall" to Sales without responsibility or visibility to when, if and how those deals are closed/won or lost. Marketing now has the ability and directive to influence performance throughout the entire funnel, from first contact to close.

This briefing doc covers key considerations to building playbooks that ensure Marketing is setting up Sales for success, including the anatomy of a playbook (what it is and what it isn't) and how to begin the playbook creation process (and who should own it). Download now.

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Bruce A. Brien is VP, Sales Enablement at Bulldog Solutions.

Marketing Watchdog Journal is a monthly newsletter from Bulldog Solutions, an online marketing agency that changes the way BtoB companies define demand-generation strategy, engage prospects and convert leads to customers. We welcome your feedback on this newsletter's content and design, and encourage you to share your ideas for topics you would like us to cover in future issues. Please send your comments or questions about Bulldog Solutions to Jason Andrade, Senior Director, Revenue Operations.

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