03 Nov 2016

4 Ways a Sales Playbook Improves Sales Hiring Success

sales-playbook-improves-sales-hiring

All of us crave more certainty in our lives. On the subject of sales talent, every VP of Sales I’ve ever met would kill to have a more predictable and certain sales operation and sales recruiting process. One simple, albeit time-consuming to build tool can help bring you both – a Sales Playbook. If your company hasn’t built an effective sales playbook, you might not ready to expand your sales team. Want Proof? Read on to discover 4 Ways a Sales Playbook Improves Sales Hiring Success.

If you’re not a Sales or HR Leader but a sales rep, this is still a vitally important topic. Should you find yourself looking for a new sales job, you’ll want to explore if your potential employer has built a roadmap to help you achieve sales success. Far too often, they’re putting that responsibility on you.

What’s a Sales Playbook?

Before we can explore what a sales playbook can do for you and your company it’s important to define what a sales playbook is. At a minimum, a sales playbook should cover:

  • Targeting – who are our high probability customers (verticals, size, etc).
  • Territory Management – how to identify, prioritize and penetrate prospects (or current clients in the case of Account Management roles) within a specific territory.
  • Messaging – how you’re different, what messages work with what verticals, what questions lead to uncovering an opportunity?
  • Metrics – touch: appointment ratios, close ratios, sales cycle, deal size and any other critical activities that you monitor, and/or leads to success.
  • Reporting – basics of the CRM and how you use the tool to increase sales success.

A starting point for building a sales playbook can be found here – 7 Killer Sales Playbook Examples. It should be noted that more isn’t always more in the case of a playbook. It should be simple and it should provide your sales reps with a reliable and repeatable path to closing sales. Now that we’ve established what a sales playbook is, let’s discuss how a solid one can improve your sales hiring success.

1. Lower Turnover.

Do you know what’s better in most sales reps eyes they a great culture? An environment where they can sell. The more you remove obstacles and map out the path for new sales reps to make a sale, the more of them you’ll likely keep. To paraphrase my old boss, Mike Hobbs,

“There are few problems a sale can’t fix.”

A less obvious way a playbook helps lower turnover is the confidence that your playbook instills in your sales team about your company. Companies that set their sales team up for success create a culture of loyalty that is difficult recruit talent away from. I’m speaking from personal experience on this point.  

2. Close More (and Better) Candidates.

Unless you can show a potential sales rep exactly what it will take to hit your quota, your comp plan and their earnings potential are hypothetical. This means that the only thing certain in your compensation plan is the base salary. With their family’s well being on the line, smart sales reps will choose to go with the employer that can bring more certainty to their financial future.

There’s an even more important role that a sales playbook can provide you than simply making your sales opportunity more attractive to sales candidates. It will also provide a foundation for understanding the exact skills, background, and intangibles that you require in a sales candidate.

In short, if you have an effective sales playbook, you have a roadmap for which sales reps you should be hiring.

3. Increase Sales Hiring Success Ratios.

If you don’t have your sales playbook mapped out you’re putting that burden on your sales reps to figure out. This requires time, energy and a very resourceful sales rep to achieve sales success. Unfortunately, most sales professionals aren’t exceptional (remember the 80/20 rule). Fewer still are exceptional AND extremely resourceful. The more you map out your sales process, the easier you make it for a new sales rep to hit quota. By definition, this lowers the caliber of sales professional you must hire to achieve hiring success. If you don’t have a playbook built yet, read our blog on how to hire resourceful sales reps.

4. You’ll Know When to Move On.

A properly built sales playbook gives you transparency into what your sales reps are up to and where they may be falling short. These insights can help you save “on the fence” reps before they quit (or you fire them) out of frustration. They can also show you when a sales rep isn’t worth saving.

Your Most Critical Sales Hire.

The most critical sales hire for any company is their Head of Sales. If you’re currently looking for one, we suggest that you spend a great deal of time exploring each candidate’s mastery of building and following a sales playbook. All other things being equal, we hire the candidate with the best thought, sales and problem-solving processes.


Chris Carlson

President and founder of Sales Talent Inc, a B2B sales recruiting firm. We place sales reps, sales engineers and sales leaders across North America. Employers can click here to learn more about our sales recruiting services. Candidates can view our current sales openings here.