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To Build an Effective Playbook You Must Know What Game You're Playing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 2, 2018 12:30:00 PM

To Build an Effective Playbook You Must Know What Game You're PlayingI admit that I spend far too much time on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn. I can’t help it. There’s just so much great information and content available!

On the one hand, the access to insights, knowledge and even detailed process is extraordinarily valuable...but it’s also exceptionally dangerous. The reason is that the majority of organizations sharing valuable information have this in common:

  • They’re sharing what works for them.
  • They’ve got an interest in influencing you to see the world the way they do.

Now, neither of these things are bad, but they should put up a caution light to marketers, sales reps and executives committed to improvement and growth (personal and business). A quick review of my just my Twitter stream right now highlights the conflicting approaches being advocated. Here’s some of what I’m seeing:

  • Cold calling is dead, you should never cold call. Executives don’t answer their phones.
  • If you don’t pick up the phone and call the people you want to do business with and don’t know who you are, then you should not be in sales.
  • The best time to send an email is Tuesday at 11am.
  • The best time to send an email is Sunday at 4pm.
  • There is no best time to send an email.
  • You should eliminate all of your forms from your website.
  • You need to optimize the conversion of your website and ensure that’s it’s a sales-ready asset.

I could go on, but the point here is that none of this data is wrong. It’s just not right either. This is why having a playbook is crucial for any growing business. Without a clearly laid out playbook, every member of your team will apply “best practices” that may not actually be best for you and may conflict with other actions people are taking. Playbooks align everybody behind the same mission, philosophy and approach.

Unfortunately creating an effective playbook is not as simple or as easy as getting a copy of someone else’s playbook and making it yours (I’ve tried that approach and can tell you unequivocally it doesn’t work). You playbook is, well, yours. It’s unique to your business, situation, culture and market dynamics.

The first step in creating a powerful playbook is defining the game you’re playing. To do that, you need to understand and determine three foundational elements of “your game:”

  • Your “business archetype”
  • Where your business is in its lifecycle
  • Your sales model

Business Archetypes

In the 13 years I’ve been actively blogging, my favorite blog post is still one I wrote a few months in. What Bach, Beethoven, Bruce Springsteen & Eminem Can Teach You About Growth highlighted how many things we think of as complex are actually quite simple. These four musicians used 12 inputs (there are only 12 notes in music) to create a broad array of genius compositions.

I think of this everytime I think about business. We all have a tendency to think of our businesses as unique, when the reality is they are not. There’s a very finite number of business types of businesses (with an infinite number of variations). When determining your game, figure out which archetype best fits your business. To do that, figure out where you are on these criteria:

  • High consideration purchase vs. Low consideration purchase
  • Product vs. Service
  • Recurring revenue vs. Non-recurring revenue
  • Low margin/high volume vs. High margin/low volume
  • Early adoption vs. Majority vs. Laggard market

The strategies, tactics and demand generation & sales plays that will work for you and your business.

Business Lifecycle

If you’ve read The Innovator’s Dilemma/Solution then you know the importance of identifying your business lifecycle (if you haven’t read one of them, order now!). While there are a number of business lifecycle models you can use, here’s a simple one if you don’t already have one selected:

  • Market Entry: you’re brand new and getting started. Job #1 is to get customers and worry about everything else later.
  • Incremental Growth: you’ve got some customers, you have signs of at least some product/market fit and your focus is on growth. You don’t have the resources or stability to go to high growth mode yet (or you don’t want to go there).
  • Fast Growth: your business is in good shape and you’re focused on accelerating growth rates.
  • High-Velocity Growth: you’re flooring the growth gas pedal while looking to add jet fuel to your growth engine.
  • Stabilized Growth: you’re through your high-growth phase and your market is settled or beginning to settle.
  • Mature: growth prospects are limited by market conditions and your size.

The Sales Model

As the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. When designing your sales model here are the key elements you’ll want to focus on:

When you’ve clearly defined the three areas outlined in this post, you’ll know what game you’re playing. With that clarity, putting together an effective playbook to enhance performance becomes much easier, and determining which best practices are best for you becomes a simple task as well.

By the way, if you’d like to learn more about how these three areas contribute to developing a powerful marketing, sales and/or demand generation playbook, as well as the other components of an effective playbook, I encourage you to watch this webinar (it’s either about to happen or it’s been recorded, depending upon when you read this post). I’ll be sharing the details and the process about creating playbooks to be your foundation for growth.

Webinar - The 7 Components of an Effective Sales Playbook

Topics: Sales Development, Demand Generation