If you are in the game of sales, you have to have a playbook. This is how any professional team goes into the game: prepared to win. In sales, that’s how you make your numbers. A game plan is designed to get everyone on board. Here’s how.

“For the most part, ‘sales’ has not changed in the 20 years that I’ve been selling,” Charles Bernard noted in this episode of the Publio Podcast. That’s a confident thing to say from a sales professional that describes bimself on linkedIn as 

Charles Bernard – Transforming Selling in the World | Practitioner of Discovery-Based Selling | Increasing Revenue with Sales PlayBooks.

Bernard describes sales as a numbers game. Regardless of your talent or skill, you are measured on the sales that you closed, how many meetings you attended, the number of calls that you made, and your results. 

“My identity was very tied to my numbers. If I was having a great quarter, life was great and I was walking on cloud nine. But if my numbers were down –  especially if they were very down – I was the opposite,” Bernard recalled. “My numbers and my emotions were exactly pegged to each other.”


When your numbers are down, you can take advice from your manager or a sales trainer. However, Bernard explained, You’re more likely to watch the top performers. What are they doing? How do they do it? What is their secret sauce?

This insight led Bernard to start the sales management consulting firm, Criteria for Success, whose mission is “to enable buying in a world of selling,” They help companies organize and focus on success in order to create success. Criteria’s North Star idea is the sales playbook. When top sales performers share their methods for success, the entire sales force closes more sales, and company revenue improves. One takeaway: when you go into it with the right perspective or attitude, all the players get on board. 

Three Opportunities Your Sales Playbook Must Capture

Criteria for Success helps clients organize their best practices so that they are easily accessible within a dynamic sales playbook. It’s literally yours. Criteria’s SaaS platform is a repository that gathers information from management and top performers, which enables your entire team to collaborate on a common framework of excellence. Now you’re positioned to capture these three big opportunities:

Consistent selling performance: Most sales forces are defined by the 80/20 rule where 20 percent of the sales team produces 80 percent of the revenue. Your playbook should enable your entire sales team to contribute to your company’s growth.

Well-understood (and used) best practices: How should sales reps maintain open communication with their customers? How do you add value for the customer, such as listening to their pain points or solving their problems? The playbook should help sales reps understand how they can make it easy for their customers to work with them. Bernard calls this “workability.”

Sales aligned with internal organizations: Each of your company’s departments impact sales, and your playbook must include these contributions. For instance, marketing messages should reflect what sales reps share and what their customers tell them. Operations that maintain post-sale relationships should let marketing and sales know what the customers tell them after the sale.

Sales Playbook and Marketing Playbook

The playbook’s value is in the transfer of knowledge from your organization’s top performers. It’s how everyone on the team can sell better. The playbook has value for sales, marketing, as well as any function that relies on input from multiple functions. For Criteria for Success, the playbook is Collavia; at Publio, it’s The Publisher’s M.O.™   

Equally important, your playbook is not a one-and-done process. Sales are impacted by multiple internal departments as well as multiple exterior forces. A new product or service can require new messages or procedures. Customer feedback may reveal particular value for a product feature that can be shared with other prospects.

One thing your playbooks should include that is most often missed: Your organization’s philosophy, your winning values, and your value proposition.

“Every company is unique, Bernard explained. “We have a completely symbiotic relationship with our clients because each one opens a new universe. They have different ideas about their businesses. Their employees are different. Their leaders are different. Everybody has a different philosophy. Every company is unique.”

At the end of the day,: “Sales is a numbers game.” Clients must be engaged and deals must be closed. But getting those numbers does not have to consume your sales reps’ lives. The numbers can be achieved more effectively with a sales playbook because your team uses your best practices.

A personal note from the editor: I appeared on Criteria for Success’ Let’s Talk Sales podcast. Many thanks to Elizabeth Frederick for putting the episode together. I really enjoyed the collaboration.

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