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“I’m not sure if I have the right people and I am not sure if they’re doing the right things.” — Every Leader


I’ve heard this from countless CEO’s, Sales Leaders, and Business Owners over the past ten years. Part of my discovery process is to ask my prospective clients a lot of questions. Questions like: 

  • Are you meeting your market potential? 
  • What does your sales process look like? 
  • Where do you find quality sales performers?
  • What does your onboarding process look like?
  • What do you measure and why?  
  • How do you forecast growth?
  • What is keeping you from meeting your market potential? 

After asking several of these questions often, I hear the following: “We aren’t performing at our potential, and I think the reason is I don’t know if I have the right people and I don’t know if they are doing the right things.” 

There you have it—the two things holding most companies back from meeting their market potential are PEOPLE and PROCESS. Curiously though, as it relates to sales performance, the tendency is to doubt the people first and then maybe the process, or the way in which they approach the marketplace.

In the absence of a defined sales process, you will always have question marks about your people’s performance! 

Less than 25% of companies have a Sales Playbook or defined sales process. More startling is compared to their peer group, in organizations with an effective sales process:

  • Average win rates are 31% higher
  • 21% more sales people achieve quota
  • Company-wide revenue performance is 17% higher

If your company isn’t meeting its potential, you have question marks about your salespeople, or you aren’t sure if they are doing the right things, the first place to start would be to build a Sales Playbook. 

Sales Playbooks should provide your sales team with guidance, direction, and a process designed to take a prospect through the entire sales process from initial lead generation to revenue generation! 

At the risk of being too granular, here are some things your Playbook should include: 

Who do we sell to and what do we sell? 

Start by defining who your ideal customers are. A customer profile should list the industries you sell into, the title(s) of who is involved in the entire sales process, their roles, and responsibilities. From there you can start to capture the problems they face that your product or service solves, and the benefits they get by doing business with you. 

You might be surprised if you knew how many leads and prospects your people chase that should never be pursued to begin with! Perhaps your playbook should include a list of whom you sell to and whom you do not. 

What do they have to know? 

Once you’re clear on who your customers truly are you can create a list of the things your sales team needs to know about the prospect and their company. Don’t take for granted they know what they need to know!

Your list of “Need to know” items can include everything from the painfully obvious, like the correct spelling and pronunciation of the prospect’s name to the sublime, or what they are trying to accomplish and why it’s important to them. 

Here’s a fun exercise: Gather your sales team together and brainstorm a list of these “need to know” items about the person, the company, their situation, and get as detailed as you can. The list can easily dip into the three figures. Now ask your best people to think about their best clients and ask how many of the things they can answer! 

What to look for? 

Now that you’re armed with a list of things to know you can enhance your Playbook by creating a list of things to look out for. 

What should they be looking for before the sales call? 

  • Website
  • LinkedIn Profile(s)
  • Press releases
  • News articles 

What should they be looking for during the sales call? 

  • Clues in and around the building
  • Traffic
  • Cleanliness
  • Employee morale
  • What they measure publicly
  • What they are most proud of
  • The level of engagement by stakeholders
  • Questions they ask

What should they be asking? 

Armed with your first two lists, you can craft a list of specific questions your team needs to ask to navigate the prospect successfully through the sales cycle. Using the two previous lists will make the process of creating questions easier.

What questions will you need to ask to establish a strong connection, discover their motivations, their needs, and arm yourself with the information needed to present a strong value proposition? 

Going through the exercises above, particularly with your current team, will go a long way to building a duplicable and professional sales process. Here are a few other things you can include in your Playbook as you build out your process:

  • The types of calls your people should be making 
  • FAQ’s about your product or service
  • Common objections and how to respond
  • Your specific follow through process 

The clearer you are about your sales process and expectations, the fewer questions you’ll have about your people! 

About the author

Les Lent

Les Lent

Les Lent is a Sales Trainer, Coach, Consultant, and holds 20 years experience as…

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