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How you sell is a major factor in sales success. Even though the sales process is no longer linear, we still divide it into stages. Each stage of an opportunity requires you to achieve a corresponding outcome for you and your potential customers.

Creating sales plays is one way to implement sales strategies. Each play is designed to include instructions on what to do to achieve the desired result. These plays are essential for success. Buyers now demand value creation in the sales conversation. By fulfilling this demand, a salesperson can ensure an excellent B2B sales experience.

In B2B selling, a play is a set of structured, repeatable steps with techniques to succeed. There are plays for all the conversations you have with clients. Before we explore how to develop and implement sales plays, let’s look at the different types of sales plays that exist.

Outbound Sales Plays

  • Cold calling: One of the first plays you need to succeed helps you win the cold calling game. To book first meetings with decision-makers, you need this play. It provides you with a sales strategy and technique for gaining time commitment.
  • Email outreach: At one time, you would have needed a play to contact a prospective client using email. Now, however, your email will be lost in a barrage of one of the 140 emails the average knowledge worker receives each day.
  • Social selling: Social still holds value for salespeople, even as the scammers and spammers who automate outreach make it more difficult to design a sales play that breaks through. Your play may produce better results outside of InMail.

Inbound Sales Plays

  • Content marketing: The inbound B2B sales play belongs to content marketing. These plays include SEO strategies, content creation, assets to share with visitors to your website, and a way to capture contact information.
  • Lead generation: In addition to capturing contact information, this sales play is to nurture leads over time, helping them begin or advance their buyer's journey, eventually starting a B2B sales process. Data on buyer intent can help you focus on the right leads.
  • Webinars and demos: These presentations attract your sales organization's ideal customers. These plays often end in a list of leads that need nurturing before they mature enough for B2B salespeople to follow up.


Developing Effective Sales Plays

It is imperative you develop or acquire the B2B sales strategies you need to succeed in sales. Not only can effective sales plays shorten longer sales cycles, but they can also increase your overall win rate. Here are the key sales plays that emerge throughout the sales process:

  • Identifying your target audience and buyer personas: No matter how compelling your products and services are, only your ideal clients are likely to buy them. By knowing your target audience and their personas, you make it easier to create an effective sales play. This makes your target pursuit more efficient and effective.
  • Understanding pain points and challenges: It is increasingly critical that salespeople know their prospective client's pain points and challenges before the first meeting. When salespeople ask about buyers’ problems and challenges, buyers worry that salespeople aren’t experts or authorities in the business. To develop more effective sales plays, you need to build your conversation on information the client will find valuable.
  • Creating compelling sales messages: No one wants to talk about the content on your website. Compelling sales messages address your client's needs and enable their decision-making process.

Implementing Sales Plays

There are a number of techniques that help you put sales plays into action. Here are the top methods for implementing sales plays:

  • Setting sales goals and metrics: We collect a lot of data in sales. Some of that data provides metrics that yield insights about how best to improve your results. To determine the sales play’s effectiveness, the sales force is measured by evaluating the outcomes to ensure the sales force is converting first meetings into second meetings.
  • Building sales playbooks: The modern sales approach is built on conversational selling. This means that the only thing salespeople need to create value for their prospective clients is a conversation. You want to capture good language and effective talk tracks. In addition to sales strategies and techniques, language plays a vital role in B2B sales.
  • Training sales teams: As you complete your playbooks, it is imperative you train one play at a time, providing the sales force with time to role-play before using it in the field. Once they gain competency with the first play, you can introduce the next one.
  • Measuring sales play effectiveness: The way you measure the effectiveness of a sales play is by monitoring how often it generates the desired outcome. Success means the play progresses the sales conversation.

Best Practices for Sales Plays

These best practices will provide you with ways to improve your B2B sales strategies.

  • Personalization and customization: Your plays may differ from the ones your competitors use. This is typically a good approach. By customizing the play for your sales team and clients, you increase its value and effectiveness.
  • Continual testing and optimization: By getting a group of salespeople using the plays to talk through what is working and what isn't, you can optimize each play.
  • Collaboration between sales and marketing: You can improve sales plays by collaborating with marketing. In particular, buyer personas and ideal customer profiles inform the sales play and make it more compelling for the salesperson and their prospects.


Alignment with the Sales Cycle and Buyer Journey

It is more challenging to align your approach with the buyer's journey now that the sales process is nonlinear. However, your sales plays need to address each stage of the buyer's journey with the right strategies and techniques. The best approach is to build plays that help the salesperson facilitate and lead the client.

Sales Play Examples and Case Studies

A great sales playbook revolves around nurturing a prospective client and making deposits in a future relationship. This is especially important to keep in mind when social selling. The following examples can help you develop plays that facilitate this approach.

  • Cold calling scripts: Your sales pitch for a first meeting must trade value for the client's time. This approach helps salespeople increase their results from earning one meeting out of ten conversations to four out of ten.
  • Email templates: The most direct way to use email is to provide market insights that will help your prospective clients recognize the changes in their industry, your industry, or the market environment.
  • Content marketing strategies: Where most sales organizations fail is by creating too much "why us" content and too little "why change" content, although the shift to “why change” is speeding up.
  • Webinar and demo presentations: These are lead generation strategies. Teach, educate, and inspire, but don't subject B2B buyers to a sales pitch. Instead, transition the contacts into your plays and nurture them.

Make Sales Plays Pay

A well-crafted and effective sales playbook is an indispensable asset for B2B sales teams, providing guidance, consistency, and clarity for sales reps to excel in competitive selling. Implementing a sales playbook not only streamlines the sales process but also helps sales reps create value for their prospective clients.

To build a sales playbook for B2B sales, follow this four-step action plan:

  1. Identify key components: Outline the essential sections of the playbook, such as buyer personas, value propositions, sales processes, and common objections.
  2. Gather input from stakeholders: Collaborate with sales, marketing, and customer success teams to gather insights and data, and ensure alignment across the organization.
  3. Develop and refine content: Create content for each section, keeping it concise and actionable, and continuously update it based on feedback and changes.
  4. Train and engage the sales team: Consider the playbook to be a living document. Train the sales team on its use and encourage feedback for ongoing improvement.

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Sales 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 4, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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