7 Sales Playbooks to Help You Score in the Final Quarter

Use the following framework to write a sales playbook that'll make your team's process scalable, repeatable, and successful.

Written by: Kristen Baker


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sales playbook



I've always believed that sales isn't just about luck; it's about strategy. Sure, you might get lucky and find yourself sharing an elevator ride with a decision-maker from your dream client, but serendipitous moments like that are rare (it certainly hasn't happened to me yet).

This is what makes a sales playbook so essential. It's deliberate and actionable. It consolidates every pitch, tactic, email, and call script that's been successful, and delivers it to every playmaker in one easy-to-read document.

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In this guide, we'll talk about how to create a playbook, what plays to consider running, and introduce you to a template to help you throughout the process. Let's get started — and don't forget to follow along with HubSpot's free Sales Plan Template.


What is a playbook?

A playbook is a manual that contains your company's go-to approach for getting things done. Some of the core components of a playbook are policies, workflows, and procedures, which can be implemented into your sales strategy.

A sales play includes things like sales enablement materials, strategies, discovery call questions, KPIs, buyer personas, sales process details, and more.

Use a Sales Playbooks Tool that connects to your CRM and arms your sales team with competitive battle cards, call scripts, positioning guides, and more.

Benefits of a Sales Playbook

I know first-hand how much time and effort goes into creating a sales playbook, but it's worth it — and you’ll start seeing results almost instantly.

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With a sales playbook, you can...

1. Make new hire training quicker and easier.

From my experience, training new salespeople is far quicker and easier when you have clear, explicit explanations of who your customers are, how they buy your products, what pain points they experience, what to say to them, and more.

Without a sales playbook, your reps are forced to learn this information ad hoc.

2. Free up valuable time for reps.

Sales reps spend only 21% of their day actually selling, according to HubSpot's 2023 State of Sales Report.

sales playbook stat 2

When sales reps spend too much time searching for or creating content, they can’t focus on nurturing deals and closing sales. That's the power of a playbook; it frees up time for selling.

Rather than having each rep develop their own messaging, questions, and resources to use with prospects, give them ready-made content — a.k.a, focus on sales enablement. This will give your reps more time for selling.

3. Surface the most effective selling techniques.

Third, a playbook helps you disseminate the most effective techniques being used on your team. For example, I once noticed a sales rep on my team striking gold with a specific outreach method. I made sure to put it in our playbook and share it with our entire team.

Speaking of surfacing your best techniques, a sales playbook also highlights and shares your most effective sales plays for specific scenarios.

If a sales playbook is a manual, a sales play is a specific tutorial within the manual.

I've created sales plays for a specific stage of the sales pipeline. I've also created plays just for demos, which has helped my reps with presenting, asking the right questions, and handling objections. These are just two of the many different types that you can include in your playbook.

Sales Plays to Include in Your Playbook

Sales plays are unique to your specific company and goals, but here are some examples of plays that you may choose to create playbooks for:

sales plays to include in your playbook
  • Personalized content play: Focus this playbook on how reps can personalize and tailor the buyer's journey to specific leads and prospects through their interactions and the content they share.
  • Lead qualification play: Focus this playbook on how reps can efficiently identify highly-qualified leads to reach out to.
  • Demo play: Focus this playbook on how reps can effectively demo specific products, and even features, to their prospects.
  • Use case play: Focus this playbook on a specific use case that many members of your target audience experience.
  • Prospecting play: Focus this play on how reps can prospect on a certain platform or channel, or specific tactics they can follow to identify ideal prospects.
  • Closing play: Focus this play on how reps can move a lead who's late in the buyer's journey into the closing phase in a way that feels natural, professional, and effective.
  • Follow-up play: Focus this playbook on how and when reps can follow up with leads at different points in the buyer's journey.

Next, let's talk about how you can write your own sales playbook.

How to Write a Sales Playbook

As I mentioned above, your sales playbook is unique to your business — however, the following steps for creating your playbook apply to nearly any business's sales team.

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Sales playbook template

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1. Review (and, if necessary, update) your sales process.

Since your sales playbook is a part of your sales process, you want it to fit in seamlessly. And your sales process should be analyzed frequently to ensure it's updated in a way that complements your current goals, the way your reps sell, your latest products and features, your buyer personas, and more. This is why the first step of sales playbook creation is to review your current sales process.

2. Outline your sales playbook goals.

Next, outline your sales playbook goals. During this step, I like to reflect on the following questions:

  • What does the playbook need to include?
  • Which specific aspects of the buyer's journey and sales process need to be touched on?
  • What are reps struggling with that can be explained in the playbook? (For example, if my reps are struggling with qualification, my sales playbook would include qualification sample questions, qualification frameworks, and common-fit indicators.)
  • What do you hope to get out of the playbook?
  • When should the playbook be finalized?

Make your playbook goals specific — reps will be more likely to adopt a short, focused, and relevant playbook over a long, complex, multi-faceted one.

For example, if your biggest priority is improving product demo quality, your playbook should cover presentation strategies, various value propositions, and sample messaging that’s linked to your product’s features.

3. Determine who should be involved in the sales playbook creation process.

Determine who should be involved in the sales playbook creation process so you can invite them to join collaborations.

Some of the teams I included in my own playbook included:

  • Sales reps
  • Sales VPs, directors, and managers
  • Marketing team members (specifically, marketers who work on content, product, and sales enablement materials)
  • Subject matter experts

I also recommend identifying directly responsible individuals (DRIs) for the creation of the sales playbook so that other team members know who's leading the effort and who they can reach out to with questions and comments.

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  • Target Market
  • Prospecting Strategy
  • Budget
  • Goals
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4. Align your sales team with your marketing team.

26% of sales reps say their top goal in 2023 was improving marketing/sales alignment, and for good reason.

sales playbook stat

Your sales playbook, no matter its focus, is bound to need content, sales enablement materials, and educational information that reps can refer to and even share with prospects.

By keeping the communication and collaboration lines between Sales and Marketing open, Sales can inform Marketing of what types of content and materials they need to streamline and enhance the selling process.

And, on the flip side, Marketing can reach out to Sales with information about their latest campaigns and content about new products or feature updates.

5. Collect your buyer persona information.

This is a key step. Reps must have a deep understanding of the business's buyer personas — and your sales playbook should help them navigate these relationships.

Collect that information and share it with your reps so they're able to refer to it when reaching out to leads. I also like to use HubSpot's Sales Playbook Software to quickly tailor our playbooks to different buyer personas, stages, and situations with ease.

Screenshot 2023-10-10 at 12.11.53 PM

Get Started With HubSpot's Sales Playbook Software

Also keep in mind that as your business grows and evolves, your customer base may evolve too. For example, whenever my organization introduces a new product, we always update our buyer personas. Make it a habit to research your customer base and update your strategies accordingly.

6. Provide product and feature training and education for reps.

From my experience, no matter how good your sales playbook is, your reps won't be able to apply it effectively unless they have a deep understanding of your product, its capabilities, and its features.

That's why I host trainings for my sales reps. They attend training sessions with our company's product teams, and even test out products like a customer would. I recommend brainstorming ways you can get your team more familiarized with your products so they know it inside and out. 

7. Audit and update your sales enablement materials and content.

Next, audit your existing sales enablement materials. You'll be able to determine what already exists and can be used as-is, or needs to be edited. You'll also be able to make note of which sales enablement materials need to be created (hence why we mentioned the importance of sales and marketing alignment).

8. Choose your plays.

There are a number of plays you can choose from when determining what the focus of your playbook will be. This is entirely dependent on factors like:

  • Which parts of the sales process in which your reps need support
  • What the product or service is for
  • Who your buyer personas are
  • What your overall sales goals are

9. Implement and share your sales playbook.

My favorite step: it's time to share your finalized sales playbook. Reps should all have access to the playbook, as should sales managers, directors, and VPs. It may be helpful to share the finalized sales playbook with Marketing as well to continue collaboration and transparency between the two teams.

10. Analyze the success of your playbook.

Similar to everything else in business, you must analyze the success of your work. Once your sales playbook has been shared and used by reps, keep tabs on its relevance, success, and helpfulness.

Ask reps for their opinions on the playbook and its usefulness. For instance, I conduct surveys to get feedback on a playbook. This way I can effectively update and edit the playbook as needed to ensure greater success.

What to Include in a Sales Playbook

free and downloadable sales plan and sales playbook template

Outline your company's sales strategy and playbook(s) with this free, customizable sales plan template.

My business's sales playbook will look different from your playbook. However, you can refer to the template below no matter what type of business you work for or what your sales playbook goals are.

Let's review the elements of this template.

1. Company Overview

Provide a company overview and dive into details about the sales organization. Include information about how the sales org is constructed, who manages each team, which targets reps and teams are expected to hit, and so on.

2. Selected Plays

Identify which plays will be used for each playbook you create to clearly define the playbook's purpose for reps.

3. Product/Service Overview

Cover every product or service reps are responsible for selling. Mention price points, use cases, core value offerings, buyers, end-users, and related industries or verticals.

You may choose to create one sales playbook for each product you sell if they're all fairly different, require radically separate buying processes, have different buyer personas, or are sold by different members of your sales team.

4. Sales Process

Explain each step of your sales process from first touch to close. You might just link to your sales process document here so reps and sales managers can easily refer to it.

5. Playbook KPIs and Goals

Which metrics do your company’s sales managers track most closely? Which should the salesperson be paying attention to? Are there any baseline numbers they should know about?

To give you an idea, maybe you’ve found reps who make 50-plus calls per day are significantly more likely to hit quota.

6. Buyer Personas

Include your buyer personas so reps can quickly hone in on the most qualified leads, and target their unique needs and challenges.

7. Lead Qualification Criteria

Include lead qualification criteria so reps can refer to them in tandem with buyer persona information. For instance, maybe a qualified lead at your company means the lead is ready to buy in the next three months, or already has sufficient budget to make a purchase.

Include expectations around prospecting and follow ups here too. Provide some guidelines around when to pursue opportunities and when to let them go.

8. Resources and Sales Enablement Materials

To create an effective sales playbook, you need to have ample resources and sales enablement materials for your reps. This requires a strong relationship between the sales and marketing teams, which you can define in this section.

It also means education for reps about available resources and materials is necessary (e.g. case studies, product pages, social content, demo videos, CRM, sales software, sales technology, etc.). List those resources in this section too.

sales playbook template: sales plan

Outline your company's sales strategy and playbook(s) with this free, customizable sales plan template.

Next, let's talk about a resource that can help you with the entire sales playbook creation process — a playbook template.

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Free Sales Plan Template

Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent sales plan.

  • Target Market
  • Prospecting Strategy
  • Budget
  • Goals
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Sales Playbook Templates

Using a sales playbook template is a great way to ensure your enablement materials are as effective and comprehensive as possible. But did you know you can include different types of templates to create a strong sales playbook?

From call scripts to email templates, you want to provide as much material as you can to empower your team to sell better. Below are some of my favorite templates you can add to your playbook.

1. Sales Plan Template by HubSpot

sales playbook templates: business plan

In this free, customizable template, you'll be able to work through your sales plan and playbook at the same time to ensure they complement each other. I use it as a primer before diving into more detailed sections of my playbook. The best part is that you can change it as your playbook evolves.

Your sales plan should inform your plays, and your plays should directly connect to the goals outlined in your sales plan. That’s why it’s so important to create one first and share it with your team before drilling down into specific techniques.

2. Sales Call Scripts by HubSpot

sales playbook templates: call scripts

Ensure your team is prepared to tackle calls by including script templates in your playbook. Not only will it create a consistent and delightful customer experience, but your sales team will be better prepared to nurture leads toward a closed-win.

HubSpot’s template kit includes scripts for several types of calls, including:

  • Standard outreach calls

  • Gatekeeper calls

  • Discovery sales calls

  • Referral or recommendation calls

  • Connection calls

  • Follow-up calls

Each template explains its best use case and provides different options, depending on whether the prospect wants to chat or objects.

3. Sales Email Templates by HubSpot

sales playbook templates: email templates

No corner is left unturned with this sales email template kit. It includes emails for every scenario you can think of, including:

  • First-touch emails

  • “Ghosting” emails

  • Post-voicemail emails

  • Drip campaign emails

Your sales team won't have to write an email from scratch again, which saves time that can be better spent researching prospects and closing deals.

4. Sales Qualification Questions by HubSpot

sales playbook templates: qualification questions

The ability to ask the right questions is one of the most lucrative skills, which is why I like this resource. 

HubSpot’s list of sales qualification questions allows you or your team to discover your lead’s level of awareness and need, as well as their budget, timeline, and expected business impact from the purchase. Including the right questions in your playbook empowers your team to nurture the most promising prospects.

5. Prospect & Objection Handling Templates by HubSpot

sales playbook templates: objection handling

During every sales process, salespeople are bound to run into objections. Your playbook should include tips and methods for objection-handling if and when they arise.

These objection handling templates and best practices from HubSpot are a worthy addition to any sales playbook. I like that it prepares teams to combat pushback and understand why prospects do so. That way, they can handle objections with politeness and empathy, while still dispelling their reservations and fears. Plus, it includes scripts for the most common sales objections.

6. Sales Battle Card Templates by HubSpot

sales playbook templates: battle cards

At one point or another, your sales team will run into mentions of your top competitors as they speak to prospects. Whether the lead is currently using another solution or considering different providers, you want your team to effectively “battle against” any claims that your competitor is the superior choice.

These battle card templates from HubSpot will allow your team to better understand your market positioning and handle objections more effectively. Simply fill it out and add it to your sales playbook for your reps to use it immediately.

7. Sales Closing Guide

sales playbook templates: closing guide

From my experience, the most important pieces of information you can include in your playbook is how to close sales. This sales closing guide from HubSpot includes time-based incentives, confirmation questions, and guidance and reminders for sales teams of any experience level to use during the closing stages.

I like that you can include this guide directly in your playbook, or you can hand it out to your sales team as a one-time training tool. Whatever the case may be, it’s an essential piece of reference that will empower your people to close deals more quickly and effectively.

If you’re feeling stuck, take a look at the following sales playbook examples from real brands.

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Free Sales Plan Template

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  • Target Market
  • Prospecting Strategy
  • Budget
  • Goals
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Sales Playbook Examples

While sales playbooks are typically internal documents, some companies publish their playbooks. Check out a few of our favorites below.

1. HubSpot and Join.me Sales Meeting Playbook

Sales Playbook Example: HubSpot and Join.me

This two-page playbook was created in a joint effort between HubSpot and Join.me. It outlines what a rep should do before and during a sales meeting to increase the chances of closing the sale.

The playbook is divided into seven sections, but don’t let that number fool you. With its clear headings and easy-to-scan checkboxes, the seven sections fly by quite quickly. In order, they are:

  • Research Prior to Meeting: Offers guidance on exactly what sales reps should research before the meeting.
  • Set the Agenda: Includes an example of how sales reps can set the agenda for the meeting.
  • Discovery Phase: Lists out a few questions reps can ask to uncover information about the prospect’s business, as well as their needs.
  • Assess the Need: Includes additional questions to diagnose the problem and understand what can be improved.
  • Define their Buying Process: Includes more questions sales reps can ask to understand the client’s purchasing process.
  • Demo: Offers a few tips to carry out a demo that closes the deal.
  • Close: Shares an example of what sales reps can say to finish the conversation and win the deal.

Why this Sales Playbook Works

The power of this playbook lies in its length. It shows that you don’t need to write a 27-page-long manifesto. With just a few quick bullet points, you can still guide your reps to success. Most importantly, it provides examples of what sales reps can say.

2. Global Telecom Solutions Partner Playbook

Sales Playbook Example: Global Telecom Solutions Partner

Global Telecom Solutions uses this well-structured sales playbook to provide discovery questions and tips to their solution partners.

It isn't too prescriptive, which is why it’s so effective. Every spread is dedicated to one type of customer, and each has four noteworthy sections:

  • Discovery Questions: Includes the questions each sales rep should ask prospects in that specific industry.
  • What to Listen For: Lists a few keywords and terms sales reps should listen for in the prospects’ answers.
  • Contacts: Outlines who sales reps should reach out to at the target businesses.
  • Did You Know? Includes pieces of information that emphasize the importance of GTS’s solutions.

Why this Sales Playbook Works

The structure is easy to follow because every spread is dedicated to a different type of customer. It also provides useful guideposts, but isn’t overly prescriptive, allowing sales reps to shift gears if need be.

3. Cobalt Iron Partner Playbook

Sales Playbook Example: Cobalt Iron Partner

Cobalt Iron’s playbook for its partners is a classic example of a well-executed playbook. It provides an overview of the company and the product, then shares several elevator pitches that partners could use.

It also provides information on the state of the industry, so that partners can understand where the product falls in the current landscape.

Notable sections include:

  • Elevator Pitch for Customers: Outlines common issues that customers face and reasons why customers should adopt the solution.
  • Customer Challenges: Gives further insight into the customers’ needs, then goes into specific challenges as they relate to the product.
  • Target Customer Profile: Outlines the characteristics of a customer who needs the product.
  • Buyer Profile: Offers more detail into specific buyer personas at prospect businesses.
  • Managing Objections: Shares common objections and ways to respond to them.
  • The Competition: Includes easy-to-scan bullet points on how to compare the product to competitors’ offerings.
  • Conversation Starters: Offers a few questions solutions partners can use to get the conversation rolling.

Why this Sales Playbook Works

It’s thorough, comprehensive, and well-thought-out, and includes extensive information on the state of the industry and the challenges that prospective customers face. It's on the longer side, but there's a good chance your reps won't mind if it helps them meet quota.

4. Sales Datanyze and HubSpot Sales Development Playbook (SDR)

SDR sales playbook example: Datanyze and HubSpot

Datanyze and HubSpot created a playbook for Sales Development Reps (SDRs) to become more efficient at account development and outreach. This SDR sales playbook acts as a guide to help SDRs combine automation and advice from seasoned professionals to provide reps with best practices on how to seek out ideal clientele at higher success rates.

This playbook provides several examples of prospect exchanges across email and calls to better equip SDRs for taking sought-after prospects down the sales funnel.

Notable sections include:

    • Account Development: Guides SDRs on how to create and manage a named account list for ideal buyers.
    • Research & Prospecting: Covers how to perform targeted research and find the right contacts.
  • Cold Emailing: Shares insight on how to humanize emailing and breakthrough cluttered inboxes.
  • Calling Tips: Demonstrates how to use modern calling tips in outreach strategy.
  • Call Mapping: Outlines who to conduct calls without jumping into the pitch immediately.
  • Objection Handling: Lists common objections and how to tactfully approach them.
  • Reporting: Emphasizes the importance of tracking performance metrics to gauge effectiveness.

Why this Sales Playbook Works

This playbook is the right mix of technical instruction and anecdotal advice to create an easy-to-understand guide to client outreach. It allows SDRs to think about how their interactions can organically and inorganically nurture target audience members and reel them in with personalized experiences at every step.

Create and Use a Sales Playbook

A sales playbook will increase efficiency in your team and improve close rates across the board. But don’t let the document stagnate. Update your sales playbook as your sales process changes and improves, your product line expands or shrinks, your ideal customer shifts, your strategy evolves, or your sales compensation plan is tweaked. Refer to and use the steps we covered, and the template we provided, to help you along the way.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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