If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.
- Albert Einstein
Ever feel like your sales process could use a little shake-up?
Maybe you're looking for creative ideas to improve your prospecting, demos, or some other specific part of how you sell.
Look, sales can get a little repetitive and maybe even a little bland if you're just going through the basic motions.
But, it doesn't have to be - in fact, sales should be invigorating and engaging! Writing this reminded me of a quote about business that also applies to sales:
"A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts."
- Richard Branson
If Sir Richard's advice sounds good, keep reading for 5 examples of "sales plays" we've used with some of the 60+ companies we've worked with. Whether you're a founder, sales leader, or sales rep, these unique sales activities will help improve your sales process.
What Is A Sales Play?
Let's define exactly what this term means. A sales play is a repeatable set of steps, actions, and best practices that sales teams use during specific sales scenarios.
It's often part of a larger sales playbook, which is a collection of different sales plays tailored to support different regions, product lines, or different buyer personas. Specific sales plays are designed to ensure that salespeople have the right tactics to meet different customer needs and successfully sell a solution.
A sales play is aligned with a specific market or sales offering and is aimed at enabling sales teams or channel partners to effectively sell a solution to a specific set of customers and key people within a defined period of time.
A well-defined sales play also provides context to sales reps on what they need to do, guides them on how to take specific actions, and helps sales managers coach against those actions.
Sales Play Types
While there are endless variations you can come up with, sales plays can be broken down into two broad categories:
- Evergreen Sales Plays: These plays are designed for general outbound prospecting and generating undefined pipeline. They are criteria-driven, meaning that when specific criteria are met, a certain action is taken. Evergreen sales plays are ongoing and require regular maintenance. GitLab provides an example of evergreen sales plays in their Sales Plays page.
- Focused Sales Plays: Focused sales plays are related to marketing and prospecting campaigns. They may use an evergreen play as a starting point but they are time-bound and scheduled. Once the play is executed, it is considered "run and done," although it could be re-run in the future if needed. There is no set number of focused sales plays, as they can vary based on the specific campaign or initiative.
It's important for sales teams to have a mix of both evergreen and focused sales plays in their playbook. Evergreen plays provide a consistent approach to prospecting and pipeline generation, while focused plays allow for targeted efforts aligned with specific campaigns or initiatives.
Sales Play Examples
There are an unlimited number of plays you can come up with! It all comes down to your sales strategy, your sales cycle, and your unique sales process design.
Here are 5 plays you can adapt and apply to your sales organization.
Sales Play #1: Cold Outbound
The first (and in our opinion, best) sales action you can take is to start reaching out to people and create new relationships.
Cold outreach can be a little intimidating for people who aren't used to selling, but in truth you can build a great cold call, cold email, or cold LinkedIn DM process very quickly.
If you're not already doing this, consider cold outbound the first sales play to develop. It'll fit into the prospecting stage of your sales process, and it's meant to connect with potential customers who have had no previous interaction with their brand.
Here's how to do it right:
Step #1: Define your target audience and create a list of potential prospects. This can be done through market research, lead generation tools, or by leveraging existing customer data.
Once the list is compiled, you need to craft personalized and compelling outreach messages. These messages should highlight your value proposition and address the target audience's specific pain points.
Step #2: Have your sales development representatives (SDRs) reach out to the prospects via email, phone calls, or social media platforms. We suggest starting with calls and then adding other channels. Cold calls tend to move the needle the quickest and you'll create a quick feedback loop by talking to your target market directly.
It is crucial for sales reps to follow up consistently and persistently to increase the chances of securing a meeting. When a prospect shows interest, it is important to qualify them to ensure they are a good fit for the product or service being offered.
Step #3: Finally, a meeting can be scheduled using a calendar scheduling tool or by coordinating availability directly with the prospect. Once the qualified meeting has been set, the SDR can pass it on to your account executives (AEs), where they can continue into the next steps of the sales process.
Cold outbound is our bread and butter here at Vouris, and we take a data-driven approach to it. If you'd like to learn more about setting up a professional sales process that starts with cold outreach, check out The 16 Steps (our guide to creating repeatable sales).
If you're looking for a cold call script, you can grab our framework here, and watch the accompanying video here:
Sales Play #2: Post Demo Follow Up
A demo follow-up play is a strategic approach used by companies to engage with potential customers after a product or service demonstration. It aims to maintain the momentum and interest generated during the product demo stage and move the prospect further along the sales funnel.
Additionally, a demo follow-up play can involve providing a limited-time offer or discount to incentivize the prospect to move forward with the purchase. This can create a sense of urgency and encourage the prospect to take action.
Overall, a successful demo follow-up play involves timely and personalized communication, addressing the prospect's needs and concerns, and providing additional resources or incentives to further engage and convert the prospect into a customer.
Example 1: Send a personalized email to the prospect, highlighting the key features and benefits discussed during the demo. This email can also include additional resources such as use case studies, whitepapers, videos, or other relevant content to further educate the prospect about the product or service. The email should be concise, compelling, and tailored to the prospect's specific needs, pain points, and potential use cases.
Example 2: Schedule a follow-up call or meeting to address any questions or concerns the prospect may have after the demo. This provides an opportunity to dive deeper into the prospect's specific requirements and how the product or service can meet their needs. It also allows for further relationship-building and establishing trust with the prospect.
Sales Play #3: Post-Discovery Follow-Up
Discovery follow-up plays, also known as post-discovery plays, are crucial in the sales process as they occur after a discovery meeting. These plays involve personalizing content based on the insights gathered during the discovery phase, allowing for more effective engagement with stakeholders early on.
Post-discovery plays are important because they contribute to a significant reduction in sales cycle times, with research showing a decrease of 15% to 30%. This efficiency is achieved by starting the sales process with proper discovery, using strategic questions, insights, and messaging to encourage prospects to share their organization's goals and concerns.
By implementing post-discovery plays, sales reps can effectively engage stakeholders, demonstrate value, and accelerate the sales process. This personalized and targeted approach not only increases the chances of closing deals but also helps build long-term relationships with clients.
Example 1: One example of a post-discovery play is leveraging the information obtained during discovery to tailor the messaging and content specifically to the prospect's organization's objectives and challenges. If your sales reps can identify and answer questions that the prospect actually asked during discovery, they'll make a memorable impact. This personalized approach not only demonstrates a deep understanding of the prospect's needs but also helps build trust and credibility.
Example 2: Another example of a post-discovery play is utilizing the insights gathered to create targeted solutions or proposals that directly address the prospect's pain points. By showcasing how your product or service can solve their specific challenges, you can increase the likelihood of closing the deal.
Sales Play #4: Lost Opportunity
A lost opportunity refers to a prospect who had a sales call with your company but chose not to buy. These potential customers often get forgotten about, but they may still be in need of your help. Situations change, markets shift, and surprises come up all the time!
Building a sales play around lost opportunities is a great way to maximize your sales pipeline. It allows you to gather valuable information about why a deal didn't close. You can use this info to improve your product or sales process. By having a "closed lost reason" field, your sales reps can indicate the specific reasons behind a lost deal.
By implementing a strategic approach to lost opportunities, you can effectively reactivate prospects and increase your chances of closing deals.
Sales Play #5: Social Content Engagement
Engaging with a prospect's social content might seem like a job for your marketing team - but it can be a great play for your sales team to use, too.
If your sales reps can effectively engage with a prospect on a platform like LinkedIn, they can build relationships, establish expertise, and ultimately drive sales. This is not to suggest they should be hitting prospects with a sales pitch out of the blue, it's simply a great way to start a relevant conversation.
One of the keys to a successful social selling strategy is to make it measurable. You need to have your website analytics and LinkedIn brand page set up to track engagement. If you make it a data-driven approach, you'll be able to optimize over time and maximize your sales and brand loyalty.
Let's be clear - if you want to use social content engagement as a play that's part of your B2B sales strategy, it has to be executed according to a clear plan with KPIs and tracking. This is not a random shot in the dark where you hope that your reps build personal brands on LinkedIn. That might be a nice side effect, but this has to be treated like other sales plays. Plan it, do it, track it, improve it.
Example 1: Engage directly with prospects on LinkedIn. Like, comment, and share their content with genuine interest, THEN reach out to connect with the prospect. This can foster stronger relationships, help you establish trust and credibility, and increase the likelihood of a successful sales conversation.
Example 2: Mention specific posts by the prospect. When you send a cold DM or email, mention a specific post that the prospect made, add your thoughts, and mention the problem you solve (with proof). Here's an example of this type of a content-to-email play:
Sales Plays and Sales Playbooks
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that sales plays can be packaged into part of a wider sales playbook. Let's get a little more detailed here!
Sales plays are specific actions or tactics that salespeople can take during customer interactions. They are designed to align with the buyer's journey and help salespeople effectively navigate the sales process with different target accounts, personas, and situations, as we've outlined above.
On the other hand, an effective sales playbook is a comprehensive collection of strategies, processes, resources, and messaging that is provided to your sales team. It serves as a guide, providing clarity about the company, sales process, and messaging for the success of closing deals at scale - it's a key sales enablement tool that serves every level of your sales team.
It's important that your reps learn to use specific sales plays in conjunction with your sales playbook. The playbook provides the overall framework and guidance, while the sales plays offer specific actions that salespeople can take to engage with customers and move them through the buyer's journey. This combination ensures that sellers know what to do and how to do it effectively across the entire sales process.
There are a number of killer sales playbook resources out there, including this guide from Highspot and this article from TechCXO. Also, remember to get the Vouris Sales Playbook Template - it's what we've used with 60+ B2B companies to build a repeatable sales process and power predictable growth.
Ready to get started?
At Vouris.com, we understand the importance of having a well-crafted sales playbook, effective sales plays, and other strong sales enablement materials.
We review and teach new sales plays on a regular basis inside our community, and our team can help you adapt custom plays to fit your specific market, offering, and target customers.
Need more? You can reach out directly and get answers to your sales questions!