7 Traits of Highly Effective Sales Playbooks

Do you have a sales playbook? If not, you could be missing out on a lot of potential revenue. According to a recent article in HBR by Jason Jordan and Robert Kelly, companies that defined a formal sales process grow revenue 18% faster than those who don’t!

And guess what? Sales reps know it, too. During our recent panel on sales coaching at Dreamforce, Bridget Gleason, VP of Corporate Sales at Sumo Logic, said,”When sales reps are coming to interview with us, a lot of them are asking, ‘is there a playbook?’ They understand that a lot of their success is dependent upon a company understanding what it takes for a sales rep to be successful.”

Sales Playbook ExamplesWe couldn’t agree more. Companies need to not only provide reps with the tools they need to succeed, but also process. Even though our products help optimize process and productivity, our sales team still uses a playbook. Why? Because they work and they’re indispensable.

In order to help you set your reps on the path to success, here are seven examples of things that you should be in your sales playbook.

Buyer Personas

Don’t be fooled into thinking your reps will automatically know who your buyers are and understand them. Sales reps need authoritative workups on who you’re selling to, what they care about, and how you help them. Include:

  • Target Account Profile – your ideal target, not your sole target. Be specific. For example, “North American Pharma Companies with at least $150M in revenue.”
  • Job Titles and Roles – what are the primary and secondary roles you sell to most? Among these, who tend to be decision makers, and who are typically influencers?
  • Role-based priorities, pain and solutions –  for each role you sell into, list their needs and aspirations from their particular point of view, and match with corresponding solutions or product characteristics that you offer.


It’s foolish to try to control everything your sales reps say and write – you hire smart people because they will bring things to the table that you haven’t considered. But when it comes to repeatable messaging, you should still still be their Cyrano. Ensure that all your messaging is consistent with the company’s value propositions, culture and tone. Include:

  • Inbound email templates by inquiry type
  • Outbound email templates according to cadence
  • Outbound voicemail templates
  • Post-meeting email templates
  • Nurturing templates
  • Cold call scripts
  • Basic company description – how you describe yourself.

Activity Metrics

It should be clear as daylight what is expected of every rep in every role. This is especially true for SDRs. If you want your sales reps engaging in a certain number of conversations per day, or following up with specific types of leads a specific make sure that this goal is communicated in your sales playbook. This can be paired with analytics (in your CRM) that show reps whether they are meeting those goals. For example, RingDNA provides dashboards that reps can use to track their own activities against activity goals. This can help reps see, in real time, whether they are dialing and emailing enough prospects. Include:

  • Target number of conversations per day
  • Target number of meetings per week/month
  • Outcome Goals
  • Follow-up rules for leads and opportunities

Technology (Tools)

What’s your sales technology stack? Which tools should reps use, and at what sales stages should they use them?

Reps need to be trained on every tool you use. If they don’t see value, and it’s not documented, your technology investments will be wasted.

Also: procedures for lead handling in your CRM must be documented. Every company uses CRM differently. Salesforce, for example, is extremely customizable. So even if your reps have used Salesforce before, it doesn’t mean they know how to use Salesforce properly at your company. For example, at some companies, SDRs convert leads to contacts with opportunities while at other companies this is handled by account executives. Set clear guidelines for how they should be using Salesforce in order to ensure that your process is streamlined.


This is the backbone of your playbook. What do your reps in various roles do, and in what situations do they do them?


  • Outbound Cadence Messaging – for example, let’s say you touch all qualified leads 8 times. Day 1 includes email 1 and a phone call. Day 3 is an email. Each should be tied to specific plays, or messages.
  • Social – when should your reps be engaging in social media, and under what circumstances?
  • Handoff from and to marketing – when are contacts taken from marketing, and when should they be handed back to marketing for nurturing?
  • Content – which types of sales collateral are available, and at what stages should they use them?
  • Discussing competitors – what do they say when competitors are mentioned?
  • Pricing negotiations – how far are your reps able to bend on prices, and under what conditions?
  • Objection handling – how do your reps handle common objections?

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

In sales, follow-up is key. Thus, a clear communication plan should form the backbone of any sales playbook. Reps should have a clear strategy for when they’re going to call and email reps. As an example, in our recent interview with Sales Hacker CEO Max Altschuler, Max outlines exactly when reps should send follow-up calls and emails with prospects in order to move deals further. Include:

  • Time to Respond – are qualified inbound leads responded to in five minutes, 1 hour, or longer? Factor in sales bandwidth and lead velocity, and revisit this SLA regularly.
  • Lead follow up rate
  • Opportunity follow up rate

Marketing Role

Interwoven in your SLAs, cadence and messaging should be the role of marketing and marketing technology in the sales process. For example, some leads might not have an SLA for sales, but rather, for marketing through a variety of automated responses and campaigns. Some lead types shouldn’t have any marketing contact at all. Include:

  • Marketing role by deal stage – for example, you may wish to have marketing cease all communications with prospects if they are attached (via CRM) to an opportunity that has a 50% chance of closing.
  • Lead scores – what they mean, and generally, how sales should interpret them.
  • Qualified Leads – how are you defining qualified leads? Do scores come into play?

Looking for more sales tips from top sales leaders? Our free eBook will help you overcome the greatest challenges facing sales teams today. 


About the Author

William Tyree

William Tyree is Chief Marketing Officer at RingDNA. William brings 14 years experience creating winning growth strategies for Fortune 1000 companies. His articles have appeared in Harvard Review, The Atlantic, ProBlogger, The Salesforce Blog, Entrepreneur and elsewhere.

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