Brazil, the host of the 2014 World Cup and the national soccer program known for its distinctively “beautiful” style of play, is going through an identity crisis that is no different than what many sales VPs at large B2B organizations are experiencing with sales playbooks: do you want to play “beautifully” or do you want to win?
The world of sales in recent years has been dominated by a prevailing wisdom: sales playbooks are the answer to sale success. The higher-ups, or sales consultants, know more about how the “ideal” selling process should unfold and need to spoon feed this process to sales reps, who cannot figure out what is the best angle to take in a sales interaction without someone else telling them. The problem, unfortunately, is that a linear sales process hardly exists anymore and sales playbooks are woefully inept at adapting to the multiple buyer scenario that dominates today’s B2B sales environment.
Brazil’s national team is dealing with a similar reality: the “beautiful game” hasn’t delivered the desired results recently, with Brazil failing to reach the semifinals in the past two World Cups. The style and flair that marks their play, even as it hasn’t delivered, is a point of pride for fans of the Selecao and VPs of sales alike: this is how the game should be played. But what about that whole winning thing—is there a way to retain some “beauty” while also hoisting the gold trophy?
It is difficult to argue with the theory of a playbook—a sales interaction that goes perfectly according to it would look similar to Pele masterfully slicing a defense apart before scoring. And playbooks still have a place in certain linear sales situations. For instance, playbooks can be good training devices for customer service in a call center.
But playbooks in today’s outside sales environment? It’s like beauty for the sake of beauty in today’s World Cup. How are playbooks performing today? What are the usage rates in the real world with outside sales reps doing enterprise deals?
Playbooks, like playing beautifully, had a heyday. But winning now takes the ability to adapt as a sales rep. Soccer is played in a more direct, yet effective, style by many of Brazil’s national team players in European leagues, shedding some of the frivolity of beauty but likely making them more competitive than in years past.
Sales reps need the right materials at the right time of the sales process, but they also need the ability to adapt it, personalize it, think on their feet and do what they need to win. Adaptable sales enablement technology means that it’s highly utilized.
And reps that win? Now that’s a thing of beauty that any VP of Sales, or national team’s fans, can be proud of.