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The ultimate guide to creating your sales playbook

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Sales Playbook
What is a sales playbook?
Why sales playbooks are critical for modern sales teams
What’s included in a sales playbook?
How to put together an effective sales playbook
How to keep your sales playbook up to date
The elements of a sales playbook: examples and templates
What’s the difference between a sales playbook and a business playbook?
Final thoughts

No two days are the same in the life of a sales rep. You’re often dealing with a variety of clients that want different things, have different budgets and have different reservations. It’s a lot to handle.

To make the sales process easier to manage, create a sales playbook.

A sales playbook is a go-to guide for all your best practices, processes and procedures. It empowers salespeople to engage customers at every touchpoint and adapt to any selling situation.

In this article, we’ll show you how to create a playbook of your own. We’ll outline the elements you need to include as well as how you can keep your sales playbook up to date. Plus, we’ve got a few sales playbook templates and examples to get things moving in the right direction.

What is a sales playbook?

A sales playbook is a document that outlines your sales processes, procedures and best practices. By following the strategies in a playbook, sales reps can increase their productivity, improve their win rates and drive revenue growth for the company.

Sales playbooks typically include the following information:

  • Target customer profiles

  • Stages of the sales process

  • How to handle customer objections

  • Sales methodologies

  • Sales tools and technologies

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)

  • Strategic objectives

We’ll look at these areas (plus a few others) in more detail later.

Why sales playbooks are critical for modern sales teams

Sales playbooks are beneficial for sales teams because they do the following:

  • Align sales teams: A great sales playbook allows organizations to align sales reps around core objectives and sales goals. It guides them through the sales cycle, making sure that all their activity supports the overall growth of the company.

  • Centralize your processes: Sales playbooks outline your sales methodologies, sales processes and resources into one cohesive document. As a result, it’s easier for sales reps to review the processes and incorporate them into their day-to-day work.

  • Minimize bad habits: Without a defined playbook, salespeople have to figure things out on their own. This can lead to bad habits and inconsistencies in your sales process. A sales playbook gets everyone on the same page, following your best practices.

  • Provide a better customer experience: When sales teams have easy access to practical resources, they’re better equipped to provide buyers with tailored solutions. This unique and personalized experience can help reps nurture leads from the top of the sales funnel to making a sale.

  • Encourage sales reps to share their best practices: Playbooks are a great way to encourage sales reps to share their own best practices. For example, if salespeople discover that a particular email template consistently drives deals forward, managers can add it to the playbook.

  • Streamline the onboarding process: A sales playbook is a useful tool for onboarding new employees, giving new hires a clear overview of your best practices.

Sales playbook included

What’s included in a sales playbook?

Your sales playbook is unique to your organization. However, there are some key elements that crop up in most playbooks, no matter what industry or business you’re working for.

Here are some of the most common chapters you’ll find in a sales playbook

1. Company information

Most sales playbooks begin with an overview of your company and your business needs. They provide sales reps with a clear picture of what the company does, what it hopes to achieve, the company culture and how the sales team fits into the bigger picture.

This section should outline basic information from your company overview, including:

  • Company strategy. Start by explaining your company’s sales strategy and how it aligns with the overall business strategy. Why does your company exist and what problems do you solve? How does the sales team factor into that strategy?

  • Company mission and values. Explain who you are, what you do and why you’re different. It’s important to nail the mission statement, as it’ll act as the foundation for all sales and marketing messaging.

  • Individual roles and responsibilities. Identify the roles and responsibilities of each person on the sales team. This section should explain what their role involves, including how you determine quota targets and how performance is measured.

  • Org chart. Include a simple chart outlining the company hierarchy to show who reports to whom. It includes names and titles and outlines how the sales organization fits together.

2. Products and pricing

This chapter provides your team with everything they need to know about your products and services – including how much they cost.

Here are some of the questions to cover in this section:

  • What products or services do you sell?

  • How do they work?

  • What do they do?

  • Why should buyers care?

  • What is your pricing structure?

With this information, your sales reps are well-equipped to promote your product or service and to answer any questions from potential customers.

If your company has a robust catalog of offerings, you might build a separate playbook dedicated to explaining different buying processes, personas and product offerings.

3. Commission structure

Describe in clear terms how your compensation plan works.

Every company has its own compensation package. They usually include a baseline salary combined with a commission or bonus structure. The exact commission structure varies depending on several factors, such as number of sales, types of products sold and so on.

While salary-based employees typically start a new position knowing what base income they’ll be making per year, sales reps’ paychecks may vary based on their commission rates.

Be as transparent as possible to avoid any confusion or tension down the line.

Sales Methodology

4. Define your sales methodology

This section should explain which sales methodologies you use and how they impact your sales process.

Your sales methodology is a framework for how your sales team engages, nurtures and converts existing prospective customers. Examples include SPIN, Consultative Selling, The Challenger Sales Model and Solution Selling.

Explain why you chose this methodology for your team and outline how this strategy aligns with the company’s goals. Sales reps can then use this information as a roadmap for how to navigate each stage in the buying process.

5. Explain your sales process

The sales process is a large chunk of the playbook. It covers all the steps that salespeople take to identify, qualify, engage with and ultimately sell to potential customers.

With this information, your salespeople will have a better understanding of how to be successful at every touchpoint – from prospecting and lead qualification to outreach and closing.

Here’s an example of how you can break down the sales process.

9 steps to creating the perfect sales strategy (with free template)

In this handbook, we’ll walk you through what your sales strategy needs, plus there’s a free strategy template to get you started!
Sales methodology process

In this section, your goal is to give reps a clear understanding of the following:

  • Who you sell to

  • How you’ll move prospects through the sales process

  • What to do and say in every potential scenario

6. Identify target personas

This section outlines customer personas that paint a clear picture of your ideal customer. It also outlines the buying process, which covers market conditions, trends, pain points and preferences that influence the buying decision.

Let’s take a look at some of the information you might gather in your buyer personas.

A B2B persona may include the following information:

  • Industry

  • Company size

  • Geographical region

  • Job title

  • Role in the decision-making process

  • Pain points

  • Goals

  • Solution requirements

A B2C persona might include the following information

  • Demographics

  • Lifestyle

  • Job title

  • Business background

  • Where they go for information

  • Motivations and goals

  • Frustrations

  • Purchasing behavior

To gather this information and create your buyer personas, you can capture data from the following sources:

  • Sales interactions

  • Communications records

  • Social media mentions

  • Customer support tickets

  • Online reviews

  • one-to-one interviews

  • Survey feedback

  • Customer service interactions

  • Website, email and social media analytics

These profiles help your team anticipate needs, answer questions and overcome objections. They also provide a framework for helping both your sales and marketing teams identify and target qualified leads.

For instance, a mid-level marketing manager may be responsible for kickstarting the research process, while the CMO won’t enter the picture until it’s time to evaluate solutions and target verticals.

7. The plays

In a sales playbook, plays are a specific set of instructions that salespeople follow. It’s typically a step-by-step guide that outlines what to do in a specific situation or scenario.

Examples of plays could include the following:

  • How to qualify leads

  • How to forecast

  • How to establish the right cadence

The steps in a play are often based on processes that have proven results over time.

8. How to use sales tools

This section details the proper use of your company’s tech stack.

This chapter goes beyond a basic introduction to using each tool. Instead, focus on how to use the right tools at the right time to move deals forward.

This chapter should include the following information:

  • Where to find tools

  • Which tools and features to use at specific touchpoints

  • How to input data into the right fields

  • How to manage leads

  • How to track leads

  • How to track opportunities

  • How lead ownership works in your organization

  • How quotas are assigned

  • How to create accurate forecasts

It’s also helpful for reps to get a sense of how your sales CRM integrates with other tools and organization-wide data. For example, does your system capture information from customer service interactions and marketing campaigns?

If so, give salespeople clear information on how they might use big-picture data to inform their approach.

9. Key performance indicators (KPIs)

KPIs are an important part of any sales playbook. They tell sales reps what the goals are, as well as provide a clear and measurable way to review success.

To set KPIs for your playbook, look at your sales goals and objectives. These will give you a starting point to determine what your KPIs should be. If you don’t have goals in place, consider objectives such as time to close, average deal size, number of qualified leads and so on.

Make sure you clarify how salespeople’s performance is measured and how all metrics on your sales dashboards connect with daily selling activities.

You can also outline how to measure performance for business leaders and what they’re responsible for when it comes to training, coaching and providing resources.

10. Time management

Some sales playbooks offer advice on how salespeople should allocate their time.

For example, you might use your top sales performer as a baseline for the most productive way to allocate time. Using their schedule, you can make recommendations for how other sales reps can allocate their time, too.

This section is mostly beneficial for new reps.

11. Messaging

Messaging represents the “what to say” part of the equation. Here, you’ll provide scripts that explain your brand’s value proposition, products/services and positioning.

Here are some of the areas you might cover:

  • Elevator pitch

  • Discovery questions

  • Objection handling and responses

  • Positioning guides

  • Email and call scripts for prospecting, nurturing, closing and more

With this information, sales reps can communicate with prospects and leads in a way that best represents your business.

12. Resources

In this section, you’ll collate any resources that can support your sales team with their work. The goal is to provide salespeople with the information they need to achieve their goals.

There are two types of resources to consider in this section: internal and external. Internal resources support the sales team with their work, while external resources support the customers.

Here are a few examples of external-facing content you share with customers.

Here are some examples of internal content that supports the sales team.

Take a look at these top tips for creating and collating resources in your sales playbook:

  • Make sure your internal and external-facing resources are organized, easy to find and tailored to individual buyers

  • Collect and organize this content with different departments to make sure that you gather as much valuable information as possible.

Uncover customer pain points to create solutions-driven content that helps your reps nurture leads and close deals.

How to put together an effective sales playbook

Now that we’ve developed a sense of which elements belong in a good sales playbook, let’s examine some essential steps that can help you build a successful sales playbook.

Assemble your sales playbook taskforce

Before you write your own playbook, you need the right team in place to bring it to life. While every organization is different, this project usually includes the following players:

  • Sales leaders and representatives: Include sales leaders, top performers and sales development representatives (SDR) to make sure you include best practices and that you make your playbook easy to use and relevant to the actual sales process.

  • Marketing: Your marketing team is your best source of information when it comes to understanding who your customers are and what they want. Collaborate with marketing leaders to make sure that your sales processes are tailored to the right audience.

  • Subject matter experts: Get input from your internal subject matter experts. Product designers, customer success teams, field technicians, IT and so on can all add valuable insights to the playbook. Whether that’s perfecting the sales-service hand-off, getting the most mileage out of your CRM or understanding the technical aspects of the products you offer.

  • C-suite: Involving the C-suite (such as CEOs, COOs and so on) ensures that your playbook aligns with high-level business goals. Additionally, buy-in from the top is one of the best ways to drive organization-wide adoption.

On top of these key stakeholders, you’ll also need a manager to coordinate the process. This could be a project manager, a sales leader or anyone in the company who can spearhead the project and help your company create an effective sales playbook.

Audit existing company processes

If you already have an undocumented sales process in place, perform a comprehensive audit to reveal which tactics and materials your team uses in their daily activities.

You might want to start from scratch, but leaving your existing materials behind could mean that you miss opportunities to share knowledge.

Get together with your reps to discuss the following:

  • Identify the sales situations where you can replicate success: Initially, you’ll want to design your sales plays based on past success. What are the most important parts of the sales process? Are there existing best practices in place for each of these? If not, where are there gaps?

  • Interview sales reps: Ask your reps which resources are most effective in moving deals forward. Are salespeople finding that video yields better results than PDF content? Is LinkedIn prospecting more effective than email or phone?

  • Learn how your team sells: How do top performers move through the sales process? What strategies do they use to move through each stage? What content and communication strategies work best at each touchpoint? What challenges do salespeople face? What would help them overcome those challenges?

Map the buying and selling processes

To design a sales playbook that helps sales reps navigate new challenges, make sure you understand how each prospect navigates the buying and selling processes – and what their needs and pain points are at each touchpoint.

For instance, this chart represents some of the universal barriers that prevent buyers from moving forward:

Sales playbook table

Here’s how you can better understand the buying process:

  • Develop a map of both the buying and selling processes broken down by stage (here’s how to map your sales process and the customer journey)

  • Define what buyer action represents a “conversion” at each stage

  • Identify which content and tactics are most (and least) effective for moving buyers through the process

Once you’ve established a sense of how you are approaching prospects at each touchpoint, you can identify how to improve the buyer’s experience.

For example, let’s say your target audience prefers to educate themselves before reaching out to a salesperson. In this situation, you can use paid ads or email to give prospects the information they’re looking for before reaching out.

Design plays on focused, proven strategies

When adding plays to your sales playbook, be sure that all the actions have a successful track record.

One of the main benefits of using sales playbooks is that they allow reps to learn from each other. As you consider which plays you should include, look toward your top performers for help. Their activity will be a good starting point for what works and how your plays should look.

If you’re a newer business, talk to your salespeople to find out what they think works best. Take a look at each buyer’s journey map and define the best practices at each touchpoint.

When it comes to creating your plays, use the following information as your guide:

  • Your industry and the industries you sell to

  • The personas you target and their buying journey

  • Pain points, questions and objections that surface at each stage

  • What your typical sales cycle looks like

Create on-demand access

Playbooks are sometimes paper documents or PDFs – neither of which are easy to use. It’s not practical for sales teams to lug binders around to various sales calls. It also doesn’t make sense to force reps to pinch and scroll their way through PDF content from their phones.

No matter how good the material is, if reps can’t easily find the right content, they can’t use it.

The goal is to provide reps with resources that they can reference in real-time, even in front of a buyer.

Uploading your sales playbook online allows sales reps to identify situational sales plays, catch up on training materials or enhance their interactions with buyers from anywhere.

Cloud-based sales management platforms (like Pipedrive) make it easy for sales teams to find and access the information they need.

For example, having smart search capabilities lets you easily type in the topic you’re looking for and find it within seconds. That speed can be incredibly useful, especially if reps need real-time information, like overcoming objections, while on a call with a prospect.

How to keep your sales playbook up to date

Business is constantly evolving. The marketplace changes, new businesses disrupt industries and buyer needs change.

As a result, your sales playbook needs to adapt to any changes that affect your business. Think of it as a living document. As changes occur to the business, the playbook also changes.

Take a look at these tips to help you keep your sales playbook up to date:

  • Dig into usage data: Look at internal usage data to identify which parts of the playbook are getting used and which aren’t. Identify and close gaps, as needed. Track sales performance against playbook engagement.

  • Schedule regular playbook reviews: Perform regular in-depth audits to ensure content is relevant to your company strategy and any new products, as well as the buyer’s experience. If it’s not, you can make changes.

  • Develop an internal feedback loop: Make the playbook collaborative by opening it up to feedback. Let salespeople leave comments based on their experience and what they’re hearing from buyers. With an internal feedback process, teams can improve the playbook in near real time.

  • Collect customer feedback: You can’t create a customer-centric sales playbook without incorporating customer feedback. Send regular surveys and add feedback to your sales playbook. You might also want to establish a channel where customers can share anonymous feedback with suggestions for improving the sales process.

  • Make sure you’re tracking the right goals: Your sales goals must align with the business strategy to ensure everybody is working toward the right targets. Review your current sales goals alongside the business KPIs to see if things are still heading in the right direction. If they’re not, you may need to reevaluate the goals in your playbook.

The elements of a sales playbook: examples and templates

Get your sales playbook started on the right foot by looking at playbooks from other companies.

Let’s dive into several sales playbook templates for various stages in the sales process.

Brand introduction

This example from G2 offers an effective way to present your brand’s story and introduce your team.

Company overview template

The template helps companies condense their mission statement down to essential information. It focuses on what the business is going to solve and how the sales team fits into the overall mission.

You can also add an organizational chart with corresponding pictures of team members, making life easier for new salespeople.

Product positioning and messaging

Here’s an example of how you might tackle product positioning and messaging in your sales playbook.

Sales Playbook product positioning

This template provides all of the essential information (value prop, elevator pitch, key benefits etc) without overwhelming reps with too much detail.

Call scripts

Call scripts guide sales reps on how to communicate with leads and prospects throughout the sales process. In a sales playbook, they make it clear what sales reps should say to customers at different stages of the buying journey.

Here’s an example from a cold calling scripts article designed to help salespeople leave an effective voicemail.

Hi [NAME], I left a voice message last week regarding X and thought I’d see if now was a good time to reach out.

To remind you, we [STATE YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION]. I’d love to show you how you can generate [RESULT].

Would you like to schedule a call to learn more?

Email scripts

In a sales playbook, email scripts give sales reps an example of how to send the right messaging, at the right time.

Here’s an example of an intro template:

Hi [prospect name],

People like you are super busy, so I’ll keep this short.

I work with companies like [business name] to help them [insert the main benefit, e.g. get more signups]. What our clients most like about us is this: [main selling point, e.g. all leads on our platform have been qualified during the last six months, so the response rates are 2-3x the industry average].

I’d love to give you or a colleague a 20-minute demo. Would next Tuesday or Wednesday work for you?

Warm regards,


This approach gets straight to the point by mentioning exactly how the company’s tool solves problems for existing customers and why it’s effective.

Here’s another sample from a blog post on email templates:

Hi [name],

I just came across your [their blog post/comment/status] on [platform] and thought the points you made were very insightful and I agree with a lot of your views.

It also made me want to reach out so I could talk to you about how [their company] could benefit from our software that totally takes care of the issue you raised about [issue].

I’m free on Tuesday afternoon if that suits for a quick 10-minute chat

Thanks a lot,

[Your name]

In this case, we’ve highlighted specific areas where salespeople can incorporate a few key details to show the reader that they’re not receiving a generic email blast.

What’s the difference between a sales playbook and a business playbook?

A business playbook describes a company’s policies, workflows and procedures. Unlike the sales playbook (which focuses only on sales), a business playbook looks at the entire business.

The document provides a clear and consistent approach for best practices across the business, including sales, marketing, operations, customer service and more.

Business playbook examples look very different from sales playbooks. Here are some of the common themes you’ll come across in a business playbook:

  • Vision and mission statement: A statement of the company’s overarching purpose and goals.

  • Organizational structure: A description of the company’s departments, roles and responsibilities.

  • Sales and marketing strategy: A detailed plan for acquiring and retaining customers, including target market identification, messaging and lead generation tactics.

  • Operational processes: A set of guidelines for how the company’s day-to-day operations run.

  • Financial strategy: A plan for managing the company’s finances, including budgeting, sales forecasting and investment strategies.

  • HR policies: A set of policies for managing employees, including hiring, training and performance management.

  • Crisis management plan: A plan for responding to emergencies and unexpected events, including communication protocols and contingency plans.

A business playbook example: Thoughtbot

To show you a business playbook in action, take a look at this example from Thoughtbot.

The business playbook from Thoughtbot outlines all the key information about the business. It includes a company overview, an outline of the primary goals and a breakdown of how the business plans to track and measure success.

Thoughtbot Business Playbook

The structure is simple to follow and easy to understand, providing hyperlinks to other pages for further information about detailed topics.

A sales playbook example: Balderton

This playbook from Balderton is a great example of a clear, concise and effective sales playbook. The document covers the sales team structure, the process funnel (with some handy visuals), sales compensation and other key areas of the sales process.

Balderton Business Playbook

The playbook also uses case studies to show sales reps how similar procedures work for other companies. It’s a great way to boost motivation and help sales reps visualize the results they’ll see when they follow your processes.

Final thoughts

The sales playbook is a useful tool for any winning sales team, acting as a single source of knowledge for everyone involved in the sales process.

The best sales playbooks are concise, easy to use and provide step-by-step instructions for closing more deals. They evolve with your company, your buyers and the complex sales landscape, allowing your sales team to implement the best processes for converting customers.

To kickstart your sales playbook, take a look at Pipedrive’s sales management software. With our platform, you can visualize every step in your sales process, track sales performance and visualize the entire customer journey in one location.

9 steps to creating the perfect sales strategy (with free template)

In this handbook, we’ll walk you through what your sales strategy needs, plus there’s a free strategy template to get you started!

Driving business growth