The secrets to creating an effective sales playbook

Posted July 16, 2019

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By Audrey Weber

Associate Content Editor at Outreach

Nobody wants sales success to be random. On the contrary, you want high performance to be the norm, not the exception. But to achieve sustained success, you need a strategy shared by the most accomplished generals, athletes, coaches, and talent managers: a dynamic and effective playbook.

Sales is tough enough as it is. But letting sales reps go far afield without an effective playbook is like asking them to bake a soufflé without a recipe. They might succeed in the end, after countless trial and error, but you’ll have much better results, and a lot less fires to put out, if your reps started with the tactical insight offered by a playbook with volumes of tried-and-tested sales data behind it.

A sales playbook consists of best practices, common sequences, prescribed mindsets, scenario-based workflows, contextual messaging, and other knowledge that salespeople need in order to close bigger deals, faster. An effective sales playbook lifts productivity, accelerates sales cycles, and positions an organization for sustained growth. In other words, it’s pretty much the secret recipe for sales success.

So how exactly do you build an effective sales playbook?

We’ll get there soon enough, but first, we’d like you to know about our upcoming Summit Series. This coming August, the secrets for creating an effective playbook will finally be revealed — by the very people who have cracked the code to ludicrous sales performance.

The Unleash Summit Series, which will be held in eight major cities across the U.S., delves deep into the science of playbooks. Outreach is one of the new unicorns on the block and also belongs to the elite category of B2B tech companies that generate more than 80% of their revenue from cold outbound prospecting (what?!). We attribute our meteoric success to our tested-and-perfected, replicable sales playbook, and now we want to share that success with you, our customers and community.

The summit features Outreach executives and sales leaders who will share the secret workflows and sequences that enabled them to achieve the unthinkable (such as multiple uplifts in positive response and meeting rates). They will be joined by representatives of equally driven organizations that have also achieved similar outbound sales success. So expect to meet and learn from movers who lead the revenue teams of Snowflake, G2, LucidChart, and many others.

How To Create a Sales Playbook

Even though you probably already have a sales playbook, you might not know exactly what it is, or how to make one. A playbook specifies all the resources, processes, and approaches that come into play when a particular sales scenario occurs or when a specific prospect reaches a certain touchpoint or stage in the buyer journey.

Because a playbook ideally prepares sellers for any eventuality, it should be comprehensive in scope, covering a broad range of customer engagement scenarios. For each of these scenarios, the playbook prescribes corresponding workflows and sequences that have the highest likelihood of driving positive responses and business outcomes.

As described by Dooly CEO Kris Hartvigsen, a good sales playbook distills your sales process into its essential elements: buyer personas, deal intelligence, call scripts, discovery, and negotiation. It should tell sellers how best to adapt each time a potential buyer behaves a certain way or sends a specific signal. Playbooks enhance onboarding, coaching, training, and all other forms of sales talent development.

What you include in your playbook largely depends on your sales process, industry, and target buyers. But in general, a decent sales playbook should consider the following:

  1. Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and buyer personas
  2. Stages in your sales process (discovery, product demo, negotiation, purchase decision, etc.)
  3. Common touchpoints and engagement channels (email, cold calls, social messaging, etc.)
  4. Customer demographic (size, location, industry)
  5. Marketing and sales collaterals (web content, guides, webinars, industry reports, podcasts, call scripts, email templates, etc.)
  6. Prescribed sequences and workflows per specific sales scenario
  7. Metrics and means of measurement
  8. Technology stack (CRM, Sales Engagement Platform, etc.)

The playbook is a dynamic document - the key to building an effective process codified in the playbook is to match an optimized sales process, design clear sequences and workflows for each stage, monitor performance, and amend the playbook by adopting the approaches of top sellers in your team.

The Do's and Don'ts of Sales Playbooks

There are a few things that should be at the core of your playbook, and common pitfalls that you should avoid, regardless of your process and target buyer:


  1. Make the playbook accessible and easy to carry out. Use cloud-based platforms that enable sellers to access playbook resources anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
  2. Be polite and respect your customers’ time. Old-school values still count.
  3. Adopt an omnichannel mindset. Try different combinations of email, phone calls, social messaging, and other communication methods until you find the perfect mix and sequence.
  4. Create workflows for every possible engagement scenario.
  5. Use the same metrics for assessing team performance and evaluating a playbook’s effectiveness.
  6. Keep your playbook in a state of continuous improvement. A/B test everything, including well-established methods.


  1. Base recommendations on faulty or invented data.
  2. Make definitions and plays too generic to be effective.
  3. Make it wordy and complicated (the shorter the better for time-challenged sellers).
  4. Skimp on factors such as ICP and target industry segment.
  5. Follow a top-down approach (i.e. innovation coming from leadership instead of from the sellers in the field).
  6. Rely on antiquated sales technologies and best practices.

Go Deeper

Take it from us, the best way to build an effective playbook is to learn from the experts. No need to reinvent the wheel - there’s tons of B2B SaaS companies that have already created a replicable process that you can follow.


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