Winning at Sales – Developing Your Sales Playbook
Becoming a leading sales organization does not happen overnight. It takes planning, dedication, focus, leadership, and a PLAN! The Sales Playbook comprises critical elements of that plan.
The sales playbook is a collection of tactics or methods that characterize the roles and responsibilities of the sales leader as well as his or her business development team. The playbook lays out clear objectives, identifies metrics for measurement, and provides a common framework and approach for client acquisition and expansion.
Beyond Insurance has the privilege of developing sales playbooks for agencies within the Beyond Insurance Global Network (BIGN). The following eight tactics serve as a sampling of recommended strategies that drive success:
- Start with WHY. WHY is one’s cause, purpose, or belief. It is the essence of a person’s professional existence. It is the reason you got out of bed this morning. Today’s consumers want and need to know WHY. Why you? Why your producers? Why your organization? An effective sales leader knows WHY and instills it in his or her sales force.
- Unique Abilities Assessment. A gifted sales leader also understands the unique abilities of each sales professional. One’s unique ability is best characterized as 1) a superior attribute that other people notice and value, 2) love doing and want to do it as much as possible, 3) energizes the producer and others around him or her, and 4) the producers keeps getting better, never running out of possibilities for further improvement.
- Skill Development Plan. As a football coach evaluates and develops the skills of his players, so does a sales leader. And, when development needs are identified, a skill developmental plan is put in motion. Skill development areas encompass creating positive first impressions, active listening, value proposition development, relationship management, the art of negotiation, personal branding, reading body language, emotional intelligence, work/life balance, handling objections, and more.
- Goal-Setting. The ability to create visions and set goals is essential to the personal and professional growth of your business development team. Visions allow them to see themselves at some point in the future, while goals offer a roadmap to reach these visions. The sales leader is keenly aware that there is nothing more rewarding than serving as a mentor in enabling each producer to set goals to reach these visions and focusing in as the visions become reality. An astute sales leader empowers each member of his or her team to set SMART goals: S-specific, M-measurable, A-achievable, R-realistic, T-time-bound.
- Prospecting Strategy Map. A strategic prospecting system starts by facilitating the sales professional’s ability to have a clear picture of his or her ideal prospect. Knowing the target market takes on many scenarios including industry-focused and product-focused specialization. The sales leader is also aware of the importance of arming the producers with a potent value proposition, pipeline management plan, and phone and first interview scripts.
The most telling attribute of a top-notch producer is his or her ability to consistently fill the prospect pipeline with qualified opportunities. It is here that the sales leader shows his or her value through establishing a plan through which producers develop their networks, research industries, get involved in trade associations, community involvement, and social media strategies.
- Tools, Tactics, and Processes. Leading Sales Organizations revealed that the first element to sales leadership is equipping producers for success. While the tactics and methods outlined in 1 through 5 above are foundational to producer success, it is equally important that the sales leader equip his or her producers with tools, tactics, and processes to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. A tactic is a method, procedure, or strategy. A process, on the other hand, is a sequence of interdependent and linked procedures…a series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end. The acquisition of new business as well as the cross-selling of existing business requires discipline and strategy supported by tools, tactics, and processes.
- Prospect Qualification Filter (PQF). It is also the role of the sales leader to require his or her producers to show discipline in determining the degree to which prospective clients meet predetermined criteria. The PQF protects the time, confidence, reputation, and money of all involved in the agency. The savvy sales leader requires that his or her producers 1) understand the depth of the relationship the prospect has with the incumbent agent, 2) gain access to the management team or head of household, and 3) determine the prospect’s enthusiasm for the firm’s unique processes before committing time and resources.
- Accountability. The Reagan Study evidenced that few agencies actually possess a true culture of accountability as relates to producer development. Accountability starts with putting someone in charge with defined tools and responsibilities.
Accountability encompasses producer recruiting, skill development, goal-setting, prospect pipeline plans, the utilization of a prospect qualification filter as well as the design and execution of tools, tactics, and processes for client acquisition and cross-sell. The sales leader must also measure what is to be managed and confirm his or her firm’s compensation system is directly tied to agreed-upon success indicators, including activity, skill development, and goal actualization.
The sales leader…delivering a sales playbook that defines the vision, strategy, capabilities, processes, behaviors, tactics, resources, services, target markets, and performance indicators to enable his or her team to consistently win.