Happy people completing a sale

How To Build An Effective Sales Playbook

(With Examples & Insights from Experts)

Wish you could clone yourself to close more deals and speed up the sales process? How about to reduce onboarding time? Here’s how to build a sales playbook.

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Everything you need to document your sales process today. 

Do any of these sound familiar?:

  • Can’t onramp sales representatives fast enough
  • Have ongoing training issues
  • Can’t dedicate enough time to coaching SDRs
  • Want to close more deals in less time

You may be feeling like your SDRs need a lot of hand-holding. Your SDRs may be feeling like they need a lot more direction and resources. 

A sales playbook solves all of that, by mapping out the disciplines and tasks within the sales funnel, and how to respond to each.

This is both frustrating for the creator of the document, for the salespeople, and for the company at large. 

Salespeople want guidance. Actual strategies for every possible buyer scenario, complete with the right messaging for how to sell a solution to a particular buyer persona, and the right resources to pass on to the customers. 

This is your guide to creating an effective customer service and sales playbook. We didn’t skimp out on the insights from experts or the examples and playbook templates. At the end of this guide, you’ll be fully prepared to create a sales playbook that simplifies your operations, eases your sales team, and helps you convert more leads into customers.


How vital are playbooks? Do you really need one (even if you’re just a start up)?

“When I worked for major tech firms, I thought I understood how a sales playbook could impact sales, but my understanding reached an entirely new level when I opened my own small business. Because, in the startup phase, when a company’s survival is on the line, every sale is unbelievably important and that sales playbook becomes worth its weight in gold.”

This quote from Paul Walker, founder of FnXMedia, puts it pretty simply. Whether you have a small or large business, acquiring sales matters. When you have a guide, you’re less likely to miss out on those opportunities. 

Christine Carrillo, founder of Butlr Health, says you should go even further than making just one playbook, stating:

“With enough playbooks, you end up with a sales mini-machine. This is when sales orgs start humming. It runs mostly on its own, with folks executing on only the necessary parts.”

Besides the obvious benefits of streamlining your sales process, and making your whole organization “hum”, there are other enormous benefits to sales playbooks:

Frees up your time to focus on building steady revenue streams

… But it also frees up a sales rep’s time (meaning they can focus on bringing in even more leads). 

If you don’t have all of the resources a sales rep needs, in one place, but organized by scenario/ task/ situation/ persona, they’re going to spend time looking for or creating those resources.

If that wasn’t bad enough, they may even develop their own workarounds after doing this so many times. Meaning, they’ll have their own messaging, questions, and resources to give to potential customers. 

If they can’t align their messaging with your company’s, you may be losing sales. At best, your potential customers aren’t getting the same sales experiences.

Makes onboarding faster and easier

Having onboarding materials readily available would obviously speed up the hiring process for any member of your team. But sales people often take a little more onboarding than most because they have to be exceptionally well inundated with the product and the various niche audiences, as well as all of the features within. 

Without a playbook, you’re essentially telling them to figure it out for themselves, relying on their skills and experience alone to get you conversions. But while some salespeople may thrive with that method, others may stumble, greatly affecting your bottom line. 

Streamlining onboarding, training, and sales processes keeps everyone on the same field, while still giving room to those extraordinary SDRs to make additional sales.  

Optimizes sales processes and surfaces the most effective sales techniques

You know your business, and you’re used to pitching it. You’re your number one sales rep and business developer, which means you’ve refined techniques for acquiring new business. 

By putting these strategies into your playbook, you’re essentially scaling your own processes. If you’ve found success with your approaches, then everyone else should operate in the same fashion. 

Similarly, pay attention to your top SDRs. What are they doing differently? What stands out about their approach? 

Monitor them. Have a chat with them. Ask about their own processes and share them with the entire team. And of course, put those processes in your playbook.



Sales playbook template: what every sales playbook needs to have

There are certain company overviews that every salesperson needs to understand, especially during onboarding. 

Without this baseline, they can’t sell the product/ service. Or, at least not effectively.

Personas are perhaps the most important overview of all.


Most companies don’t build personas very well. 

They create generic one-sheeters that state “Gina is a product marketer, working at a SaaS company with 50-100 employees and a revenue of 10 million”. 

That’s not a persona. 

In fact, there’s really no point to creating something like the above “persona”, because no one can identify with that. They don’t know how to sell to Gina. 

An effective persona dives deep into your target audience. This means getting to know them on a more personal level, and includes such information as:

  • Where they hang out online (social media, forums, Facebook groups, Reddit and Slack channels…)
  • The types of things they share on social (maybe they’re spending most of their time talking about a need for a solution like yours)
  • What they’re searching for when they look for products or services like yours
  • Why they’re looking for your solution
  • What solution they’re already using
  • What is their title and role in the company (in as much detail as you can glean)

Essentially, you want to know how they operate and how best to reach them. If you or your sales reps spend time in the places where your audience hangs out, they’ll understand how to speak to these customers. 

They’ll know the language to use, the problems they have, and the solutions they need, as well as how best to position your product or service.

How do you identify these personas to follow?

You understand your ideal customer.

Your ideal customer is your current best customer.

Think on your best customer or shuffle through the data to see which customers have stayed with you the longest.

Which has paid you the most?

Which has needed the least amount of hand-holding?

Which have referred you to others or left reviews?

You want more of those customers.

If you haven’t launched yet, and therefore don’t have any customers to scope through, then you can still ask yourself: What would make a customer ideal to your business?

Or, identify the brands you truly want to work with. Identify who the point of contact would be, and follow the persona.

Competitive analysis

The second most important overview of your company is actually a look at your competitors.

Knowing how your competitors place themselves may be essential, but knowing what they do wrong is even more important.

Answer this:

  • Why are customers turning away from them?
  • What advantages do you have over the competition?
  • What are some of their worst reviews?
  • What features do they lack?

Why do you need to do this?

Because customers are comparing your brand to the one they’re already using. Or, at the very least, they’re weighing their options.

You and your sales reps need to know how to position your products or services above the competition. Knowing where they’re failing is the best way to do that.

The Buyer Journey

This is somewhat of a marketing tactic, but it aligns just as well with sales. 

Knowing the route (or the many routes) your customers take to get from their first interaction with your brand to becoming a customer is, well, important. 

Sales reps should know the actions a buyer takes and the behaviors they undergo that lead up to an interaction with them. This understanding sets them up for understanding how to approach the potential customer’s pain, and how to lead them down the funnel. 

So, in your playbook(s), cite: the triggers, considerations for buying, and purchase thoughts. 

After covering the bases: personas, competitor research, and the buyer journey, what else should be in a sales playbook?

The sections you include will vary, and in most cases, the more concise your playbooks are, the better. 

Now, this doesn’t mean skimp on information. It just means, give your SDRs the most instrumental and actionable information. 

Or, consider having a playbook that has all the resources, video, and individual plays, and a separate handbook for product information and other onboarding details. 

With that in mind, here are some of the most common sections to include in your team playbook:

  • Products and pricing
  • Prospecting
  • Activation / warm-up procedures
  • Goals and expectations/ KPIs
  • Resources
  • CRM usage tips and best practices
  • Sales stack
  • Call planning
  • Elevator pitch / scripts

Products or services and pricing

What good is understanding buyer personas and how to position yourself among competitors if you don’t understand the products themselves?

For this section, you want to go far beyond just referencing your value proposition, the features and services you offer. 

If you host your playbooks digitally, you can add explainer videos that either your employees can use for themselves or that they can send to potential customers (or both). 

While this may not be part of the playbook, per se, every employee should experience the product/ service for themselves- either through a demo or actual use of the product/ service. 

The closer they are to being an actual customer, the better their understanding of how to sell it. 


Prospecting could be a part of your personas sections, but it’s still considered a separate entity. 

Your prospecting section should explain where and how to identify prospects, and how to approach them. You can even include loose scripts to build a framework for the conversation and ensure that the SDR is always leading the prospect down the sales funnel.

Warm-up procedures

There’s this assumption that prospects are already ready to buy if they’re at a certain stage in the buyer journey. This isn’t always so. 

Your sales playbook should include warm-up or activation procedures or practices such as engaging with prospects on social media or getting a referral beforehand. Finding a less intrusive way to connect beforehand can go a long way.

Goals, expectations, and KPIs

Setting goals and expectations is essential to the trajectory of your business because it not only gives sales reps something to work towards, but it keeps them centered and focused. 

Create shared and individual goals to establish that sense of team and accountability. 

By also including the expectations, you can set down guidelines for how to communicate, how to work together, incentives for reaching goals, and so much more. 

As far as metrics go, outline things like pipeline value and sales to activity ratio. By stating the KPIs, you’re telling them how you’re evaluating their performance, and it will give them a reference for whether or not they are on the right track.


The resources section of any playbook is one of the most useful, since it’s one of the many actionable stages, and assists SDRs by eliminating search time and creating a more consistent sales process. 

While the types of resources you need in your playbook, and for each sales play, will always vary, there are some pretty standard resources:

  • Product piloting: If your potential customers are piloting your product, they’re right on the hinge of becoming actual customers. SDRs should have reference material about the customer/ persona, resources about product setup, presentations, and demo checklists. 

  • Frequently asked questions: SDRs need FAQ sections just as much as customers do. But for your sales reps, it’s a little more of a roadmap to different scenarios as well as answers to basic questions. Some of the most common things to include in this section are outreach and implementation processes, point of contact information for teams within your organization, and “what to do if” types of questions. 

  • Call library: While reps may already have a simple dashboard that they keep open all the time, it’s vital that they have access to it through resources sections if needed. You can also make other rep’s calls available as resources and guidelines for new SDRs on your team as well. 

  • Customer success handoff guidelines and procedures: What does the sales rep do after they’ve won a conversion? Nothing, if you don’t have procedures in place. Even if it’s as simple as sending welcome emails or onboarding materials to the client. You can’t just complete a sale and move on to the next. Outline those processes and any follow-ups your reps should do.

  • Organizational structure: Create a chart that outlines how the organization is structured. This should include all of the managers, their roles, and contact information. Highlight the people that are most important to your SDRs. This may mean customer service reps that could more thoroughly handle a customer's questions or an IT member that may be a great reference when trying to answer a question for a potential customer. Either way, they need to know whom to reference and how to reach them. 


Messaging is clearly important, and will probably be one of the most used sections of your playbook because this will be where you break down personas and tasks into very specific actions and scripts. 

This section could include elevator pitches, core messaging for the product or service overall, objection handling.

Essentially, this is the space for breaking down individual sales plays, or how to handle a persona and push them down the sales funnel, at each stage of the buyer's journey and for each type of persona.

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How to create a playbook that closes more deals

A lot of information goes into a sales playbook. It may actually be too much information to put into just one resource. Consider breaking your playbooks down into separate materials (onboarding, product and company information, goals, and expectations…). 

Remember, when too much information to shift through, it makes the really important details harder to find. 

But let’s take that one step further.

Remember that not everyone can consume content the same way. Some may learn better from the video content, while others may prefer audio or reading materials. 

Think of all the information you find yourself continually relaying to new reps. Add that information into your playbooks in multiple formats to ensure it really sticks. 

With that in mind, let’s break down the process of creating a really effective playbook.

A lot of information goes into a sales playbook. It may actually be too much information to put into just one resource. Consider breaking your playbooks down into separate materials (onboarding, product and company information, goals, and expectations…). 

Remember, when there’s too much information to shift through, it makes the really important details harder to find. 

But let’s take that one step further.

Remember that not everyone can consume content the same way. Some may learn better from the video content, while others may prefer audio or reading materials. 

Think of all the information you find yourself continually relaying to new reps. Add that information into your playbooks in multiple formats to ensure it really sticks. 

With that in mind, let’s break down the process of creating a really effective playbook.

Step 1: Set playbook goals

Yes, there are goals within your playbook. But those are goals you set for your SDRs and for the company. You’re projecting success.

Playbook goals are goals you hope the playbook can achieve. 

For a lot of founders, there’s often this question of “How do I clone myself to accelerate sales?”

Playbooks are clearly the answer by defining replicable actions, scripts, personas to chase…

Believe it or not, that simple question is a playbook goal. In fact, many of the goals are the very challenges that push founders and companies into creating or recreating their playbooks, to begin with. 

So you want to replicate your success or the success of top sellers at your company?

You want to streamline onboarding?

You want to eliminate handholding?

… All of these (and more) goals give you the formula for your playbook. They help you define what information needs to be in your sales programs to meet those goals. 

Define your challenges and your goals. You’ll need that for making your playbook. 

Step 2: Layout the process for making the playbook

This may seem a little generic, but it’s a bit more elaborate than you might think. In that first step, you define your goals, which helps you identify what needs to be in the playbook.

That’s great and all, but:

  • Who will write it?
  • What specifically do the playbook and the sales process look like?
  • What types of resources do you need to achieve those goals?
  • How many playbooks should you even have?
  • What are your representatives struggling with? Can you answer that in the playbook?
  • Who should be involved in creating the playbook?
  • How will you layout the information? (Video? Audio?...) What format? Host it digitally?
  • When should this playbook be complete?
  • Do we need a consultant to create the playbook?

You need answers to all of this and more. 

Step 3: Align sales and marketing to define buyer personas and buyer journeys

Sales and marketing are much more closely aligned than they ever were, and due to the stark rise in digital products, some may say they’re completely interchangeable. Today, you’ll even see sales reps building personal brands and using various marketing techniques to attract prospects for themselves.

Within a company and a sales playbook, aligning the two departments is essential to the function of the playbook. 

Paul Walker, Founder of FnX Media, highlights this fact well with his experience in various sales roles:

”I remember one in particular where we were facing frequent objections around the usability of a solution and marketing filmed a series of testimonials showing happy customers saying how easy the solution is to use. It was so simple but without mapping sales processes, where the issues were, all of which came from the playbook, this would have been impossible.”

Not to mention the two share very similar information, so why not create a more cohesive front?

For instance, for a marketing department to create content, they have to do both competitor and audience assessments and build buyer personas. They also have to understand (or even build) the buyer journey. 

Paul comments on this aspect of sales and marketing cohesion as well:

“The ability to better bring marketing into the sales process is often underrated. If marketing can easily understand how sales is functioning, they can start to supply the kind of collateral and campaigns sales need at all stages of the process.” 

All of this information should be in your sales playbook. 

To better align two departments: 

Have a weekly or monthly lunch to have an SDR or AE go over topics and have the teams discuss them together. 

Listen to call recordings to identify questions customers have when they get on a call with a sales or customer service rep. Listen to successful connection calls and failed connection calls to identify weak spots that marketing can solve by altering content, and sales can solve by altering their approach.

Step 4: Audit existing sales processes, funnels, tools, and sales reps. 

You likely already have processes in place for selling your products or services, even if they’re just your own. 

If you already have a sales team, but you’ve let them determine their own sales processes, these--along with your own processes--should be analyzed to scope out the winners. 

You want to identify what’s working and what isn’t, and with the playbook, trim the fat and keep your strategies lean. 

Essentially, bad out, good in. 

While auditing your sales processes, you should also assess your existing sales enablement materials. 

Not just to determine if these materials actually work for your team, but to update them accordingly and place them in your playbook where necessary.

There’s no need to create materials that you already have.

Step 5: Break down the buyer journey and tasks to determine sales plays (including sales rules of engagement)

There are a certain number of triggers that spark sales actions, such as:

  • Scheduled a demo
  • Filled out a contact form
  • Requested a quote
  • Called into the sales team

In those instances, your sales team needs to know what happens in the task and what should be done by the end of your conversation with the potential customer. 

Better yet, they need all the tools, content, skills, and resources available to succeed for every one of those scenarios.

This is where sales plays come in. 

Sales plays are, essentially, a play-by-play of how the sales scenario should go down, complete with repeatable steps, actions, and best practices. 

This differs from a sales playbook in that it narrows down scripts and actions of the sales rep to individual triggers and scenarios. Meaning, there can be dozens of different sales plays within your playbook. 

The plays you’ll need in your playbook will vary depending on your company, but some of the most common include:

Personalized content: the tools and methods your SDRs can use to tailor a buyer’s journey through their own interactions and content (social media is a good example).

Lead qualification: how SDRs can identify their own sources for leads and which leads are of a high enough quality to reach out to. 

Demo: how reps should demo a product if they’re running through it with a client to encourage the prospect to convert and to provide them all the necessary information to do so. 

Use case: build your playbook plays on the specific use cases your target audience might experience. 

Prospecting: since reps are and should be on certain channels, sourcing leads, pushing out information about your brand, outline the specific tactics they should use to find and identify your ideal customers. 

Closing: sometimes, customers are ready to buy right away. They may just like to move fast or found enough information on their own. Sometimes the rep just caught them at the end of their buyer journey. In this case, they need a script or a play to follow to ensure they’re covering all the right bases but that it still seems natural. 

Follow-up: When you close a deal or just after the prospect converts, the sales reps should have follow-up procedures to continue the buyer’s momentum forward and ensure they don’t back out. 

Now, let’s zoom back out and take a look at how to build a sales playbook that works for you and your team. 

Step 6: Develop resources and add your tech stack to your playbook

Remember, not everyone consumes content in the same ways. 

You may need to use tools like:

  • Loom or Vidyard to create onboarding materials or explain features of the product or service. 
  • Dooly to update Salesforce faster and easier, eliminating wasted time in the sales reps day- allowing them to sell more. 
  • ZoomInfo is also a great resource for your sales team, since it works to accelerate your pipeline, delivering all of a company’s contact info and building workflows with intent data that help you close more deals and even unlock areas of your target market. 
  • Hubspot’s CRM includes systems, tools, and integrations for marketing, sales, content, and customer service, you can easily streamline your sales pipeline and create workflows that involve all necessary departments more seamlessly.

You’ll also need link pages, and various resources for both your potential customers and your SDRs. Gather it all, and assess it to make sure it’s sufficient enough to reach your goals.

Step 7: Consistently analyze the success of your playbooks and make updates

You’re continuously improving, your audience is continuously changing, and so is the market and how it responds to sales approaches. 

Without assessing your sales tactics, team’s performance, and all other elements of your sales approaches, your sales decline.

Notice someone is deviating from the playbook? Find out why. What resources are they missing? What do they need help with?

Update your playbook accordingly.


Good playbook examples

Every now and then, a company publishes their sales playbooks or handbooks, either as a sign of transparency to their customer base, because it relates to their products/ services, or simply to act as a leader for other companies. 

One great example of a sales playbook is that of Ometria.

1. Ometria’s Customer Lifecycle Marketing Email Playbook

This playbook was specifically created as a guide for e-commerce marketers, as a way to serve Ometria’s customers. It outlines how to send behavior-triggered emails that are actually compelling, as well as how to follow up and continue the good customer experience even after closing the customer.

The playbook is only twenty-four pages long, and though there are nine sections, four of them stand out as exceptionally helpful.

  • Start increasing the value of your customers today
  • Sending great welcome emails
  • Sending irresistible behavior-triggered emails
  • Creating a brilliant post-purchase experience

What’s great about this playbook

This playbook is helpful because it actually outlines, step-by-step, how to build an effective welcome email strategy. It also breaks down the timeline for the welcome emails and best practices and the type of content you should include in these emails.

2. Funnely Full Funnel Facebook Ads for Ecommerce Marketers Playbook

Funnely clearly has a sales motive for publishing this playbook, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one to pay attention to. It encompasses everything from ads metrics, budget, placements, set up, and targeting for every step of the funnel.

It’s specifically designed to improve Facebook ads for e-commerce sales reps and businesses, but it contains some pretty illuminating content:

  • Facebook pixel setup
  • Ecommerce variables impacting Facebook ad performance
  • Facebook ad funnel components
  • Targeting 
  • Creativity, promotions, and ad types
  • Bidding
  • Budget
  • Measuring for success
  • Building the funnel

What’s great about this playbook

It’s packed with vital information, but it’s all succinct. It cuts all the details down to singular pages and easy-to-digest sections. It also uses charts and graphs to explain the information in a more linear way. 

3. Sendoso's Revenue Team's Full Funnel Playbook

Sendoso’s full-funnel playbook is noteworthy because they’ve laid it all out with a video explanation. It still contains actual content if you prefer reading over the material and referencing various sections on your own, but adding that visual element and verbal explanation gives it mass appeal.

This playbook in particular focuses on creating more of a personal experience, even when selling digital products at virtual events. 

It contains great sections like:

  • Future of virtual events
  • Attendance, engagement, follow up
  • Driving webinar registrations
  • Driving virtual events attendance
  • Qualifying prospects at virtual events
  • Driving value

What’s great about this playbook

The best part of this webinar, aside from the great information, is the expansion on that information from the sources themselves. Essentially, this playbook is told in the form of a webinar, and it has a more personal feel, which really speaks to the playbooks messaging. 

4. HubSpot Sales Meeting Platform

Hubspot created this two-page playbook with Join.me, to outline how sales meetings should go. Essentially, it’s a quick play to enhance sales meetings and close more deals. It only has seven sections, and again, it’s just two pages, but the checklist form and simplicity are exactly what make it so effective. 

It includes:

  • Pre-meeting preparations/ research
  • Agenda setting
  • Discovery 
  • Needs assessment
  • Defining the buyer process
  • How to run through a demo with the prospect
  • How to close more deals

What’s great about this playbook

The best part of this playbook is the simplicity. The checklist format is pretty great too. Your sales reps don’t have to sift through pages upon pages of information to get to what they’re looking for. They have everything they need right there and it’s all segmented into smaller, but still very actionable pieces.


What Makes a Sales Playbook Ineffective or "Bad"?

“A bad sales playbook involves either the communication gap between the steps or the non-sequential steps. For example, if a playbook mentions the degree of marketing & production strategy in the first step, it will make the sale process not according to its needs, but towards the product. 

A good example is the Fiat car manufacturing company that was doing well in engine manufacturing & showed potential in the European market. They switched to the Asian market with the same product strategy without knowing the actual needs of the customers & they tried to sell the same product, which was a hit in European territory. They had a massive failure because the needs of Asian peoples are very much different & the product failed to match the requirements."

This poignant point comes from Miranda, the Founder of VinPit, a VIN lookup company. 

Sales playbooks fail when you try to apply them to every aspect of your business, and every market. Too many companies think a single sales playbook is enough, but that’s often far from reality.

Another big reason playbooks fail is that they’re too convoluted, and filled with too much information. They often neglect strategies and actionable details, and don’t offer as many resources as they should. 

This is a lot more common than you might think- largely due to a lack of goal setting prior to creation or a rush to create the playbook, leading to slapstick strategies that may not have been tested. 

Other reasons your sales playbooks might be “bad” or ineffective: 

  • It takes a lot of resources and time to build a really effective playbook. The writing part is the easiest and fastest part of the entire process. 

  • Everyone has to be aligned on this playbook. If any member of your team or if any department isn’t on board with adopting the playbook, it won’t work. Every part of the sales process has to agree to these new standards.

  • Salespeople may not be used to very effective playbooks, so they may not believe in the validity or helpfulness of the playbook. They may see it as just another book, so it may take some convincing.

  • You’re not communicating well enough how to use the playbook. Don’t just hand the playbook to your sales team and expect them to be able to use it without some onboarding. 
  • The playbook wasn’t created by salespeople or consultants that understand the sales process, which may make it difficult for your SDRs to understand where they’re positioned in the funnel or how to move forward. 

Tips for Effectively Implementing a Sales Playbook

Dozens of free sales playbook templates make it seem relatively easy to build an effective playbook. But most companies make the mistake of filling in these questionnaires and templates without really customizing it to their business.

To avoid that, win more sales, speed up the sales process, and more, follow the tips below:

  • Keep your playbook short and sweet, focusing on the most actionable information

  • Develop video and audio assets as well as graphs and pictures that demonstrate the process in a more captivating way.

  • Introduce the playbook to everyone before it's completed, and get their input, so they’re invested in it as well. 

  • Create several playbooks to facilitate each persona and buying stage, onboarding materials, and general company information.

Hire an Agency to Write the Playbook for You

Either have a few of your best sales reps work on the playbook, or hire a consultant to develop it for you (or certain sections of the playbook such as audience assessment). 

You and your team often don’t have the time or ability to create such comprehensive assets. Consultants are able to take a step away from the process to assess each area of your business, and they are often better equipped at creating truly effective resources that every member of your team can easily implement. 

Want to speed up your sales process? Close more deals? Reduce time spent onboarding new hires?

Theia can help you build the most effective playbook for your business.

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A Complete Sales Playbook

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