At simu.ly, we’re often asked to describe the difference between a sales playbook, a sales process, and a sales methodology. An excellent way to see the difference is by using the three principal areas of sales enablement: process, product, and prospects, what we call at simu.ly the three Ps of sales enablement. 

A Complete Reference

Salespeople need to be experts in the products they’re selling. They need to understand the operational processes within their company. And they need to understand the prospective customers they’re selling to. A sales playbook is a cumulation of all of these areas. If any are left out, then the salespeople will not have a complete reference of their role’s key elements. The implication is also that these elements may not be working together as a system. That’s worth looking into.

Product

Let’s break these elements down a little further. Looking at the product first, the three areas we typically enable here are product marketing collateral, including customer presentations, proposals, and brochures. Also, technical product sheets that communicate the product to the customer. The value propositions, i.e., what value they create for customers, and proof of wins like testimonials and references. There’s probably more in here, but these constitute the minimum bar.

Process

The second area is ‘process,’ where we have the sales process, which are the gates that a sale needs to pass through from open to close. Then there’s the sales methodology, which are the skills and tools the salespeople need to drive prospects through the sales process. Lastly, the operational areas of sales like CRM, revenue intelligence, and order processing. These must be documented and put into an easily transferable format for the salespeople and manager coaches. 

Sales Playbook Structure

Prospects

Finally, the playbook must provide clarity over customer prospects. Salespeople need to recognize customer profiles for pipeline generation and qualification. They need to understand how to drive the buying process prospective customers go through and know how to outsell the competition by helping prospects make the right purchase decision. This links closely with the value proposition, sometimes resulting in a value playbook.

Sales Playbook Design

A sales playbook is a branded and communicable form of these areas combined areas. This is everything the salespeople need to know to do their jobs effectively. When designed well, the playbook can become part of the value that is sold. This can be seen when customer feedback from win/loss reviews reveals that the customer recognized and valued the sales process. The Simu.ly Design Practice have a number of sales playbook brand designs that you can see upon request.