Sales is a team sport. There are different positions that play specific roles, there’s competition, and there are wins and losses. And there are playbooks to ensure that everyone from a sales development rep (SDR) to a customer success manager (CSM) knows how to perform their role effectively.
Sales playbooks aren’t X’s and O’s. They’re a resource to help sales organizations develop the knowledge, skills, and readiness to effectively engage buyers. At Seismic, our product enablement team creates and manages our playbooks – they teach our reps what to do, know, say, and share throughout the deal cycle, and to great effect.
Speaking the language of Seismic, fluently
Seismic Director of Product Enablement Amber Mellano loves her job. Her team is responsible for creating playbooks that help our reps speak about our product, the Seismic Enablement Cloud™, fluently and eloquently.
I spoke with Amber to get a better understanding of how our sales organization uses product enablement and playbooks to win deals. “We want our reps to become unconsciously competent on our product,” she said.
Product enablement ensures that our reps understand the ins and outs of our product, or the “why’s behind the features,” so that when they interact with customers, the conversation flows naturally. Knowledge and skills development to do this doesn’t happen overnight. And this is when the Seismic Enablement CloudTM, particularly Learning and Coaching, plays a pivotal role. “We emphasize a mix of just-in-time learning and just-in-case learning to ensure our reps are always ready,” she noted. “We understand that there’s a curve of forgetting – but if you get knowledge at the right time, you can maximize your comprehension.”
The anatomy of a playbook
Our playbooks are developed with both the buyer and seller in mind. Amber’s team considers everything from a customer’s pain points to the specific product capabilities that will address them. She noted that “when we build a playbook, we like to lead with a focus on starting a conversation about what’s working and drive the conversation accordingly – that’s the start of unconscious competency.”
In practice, this means sellers are trained to listen and respond to a customer’s unique needs. For example, if a customer says their sales reps spend too much time updating pitch books, our reps are well versed to naturally steering the conversation to our content automation capabilities.
Playbooks have been instrumental during the recent Sales Enablement Cloud launch. The enablement cloud consists of six pillars, spanning Sales Content Management to Enablement Intelligence. Our reps need to be fluent in all six categories to effectively sell our platform.
Enablement Cloud playbooks are organized by category. “We’re using pillar-based enablement to help our reps find all the resources we’ve built to help them fully understand how to talk to prospects about how the Enablement Cloud can drie value in their organizations,” she said. Amber used the example of Lessonly by Seismic to make the point. Once you have a broad understanding of how the Enablement Cloud represents the journey of building a mature enablement program, you can then focus on the pillars to elaborate each step along the way.”
The Learning & Coaching playbook – like the other pillar playbooks – contains everything a seller should do, share, say, and know throughout a deal cycle when discussing Learning and Coaching with prospects. The Playbook includes Lessonly by Seismic learning paths, discovery questions, talking points, objection handling, pitch decks, and solution briefs. Amber noted that “the playbooks are beneficial because they allow our reps to have content in context.” And the sales reps who engage with these materials are well positioned to navigate complex deal cycles.
Coaching a team of high-performers
Amber’s team at Seismic has found that reps perform better when they study their playbooks. “It works if you work at it. “The folks who attended our live enablement sessions, looked at content, completed the lessons – they talked about the product and value of the product on calls more often. And ultimately, they closed more deals at higher prices and had shorter deal cycles,” she added.
The numbers back it up. Seismic analytics track how often sellers view product enablement and marketing content in playbooks and how often that content is shared with prospects and customers. Analytics provide insight into which sellers completed product enablement lessons and how they scored in quizzes, practices, and certifications.
Amber’s team recently analyzed how lessons and playbooks contributed to seller success. They found that sales reps who interacted with each piece of content in a playbook, and who scored more than 85% on their certifications, talked more about product enablement than sellers who didn’t. In fact, these reps saw a 95% increase in product mentions in conversations with prospects and customers.
The group of sellers who had a higher engagement with playbooks and lessons also showed an increase in booked opportunities, competitive win rates, and higher opportunity sizes when compared to sellers with lower playbook and lesson engagement for the same product. These are just some of the results:
- 300% increase in booked opportunities
- 285% increase in competitive wins
- 225% higher total value of booked opportunities when product value is articulated during conversations.
Words of wisdom
As I mentioned earlier, Amber loves her job at Seismic. She added that our platform makes her job easier. “I could not do my job without pages. I would never want to work anywhere that I don’t have that tool available to me.”
She also shared advice for organizations that are getting started with lessons and sales playbooks. “This isn’t rocket science, but it’s taken us some time to arrive at this magic recipe. You have to make mistakes before arriving at the right solution – and I believe that even our solution will inevitably evolve.”
She closed by adding, “We’re not just trying to show the behavior we want to elicit from our sellers. We want to measure the outcomes the behaviors create, in terms of business outcomes like higher quota attainment or average seat price. That’s the thread that our product enablement work weaves around.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how your organization can use lessons and playbooks to improve outcomes, please reach out to your customer success manager.