Sales Playbooks & CRMs – The Perfect Tango


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I was speaking recently at a conference on Sales 2.0 tools. During the coffee break after my session I ended up in a conversation about sales enablement and sales playbooks. The conversation got derailed for a while as one particularly active participant wanted to debate the role of mobile and cloud technologies in the future of sales professionals. Seriously? I am not sure I understand how anyone would feel the need to ask that question. In my opinion mobile and cloud are as certain a part of our future as death and taxes – but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I am getting somewhat off the topic. I say ‘somewhat’ only because the sales playbook discussion took a turn, and the debate centered on whether it was essential that a sales playbook was integrated with a company’s CRM. (As you may know, we have spent a lot of time on this because of the work we do with Dealmaker Smart Sales Playbook.)

Wasn’t it ok to have a defined playbook in a PDF could be linked to from a sales opportunity record?

Well, no!

For me that is almost the same as asking if it would be ok to have all of the contacts for an opportunity in a spreadsheet ‘linked’ to the opportunity record in the CRM. It just doesn’t make any sense.

There are many facets to Sales Playbooks in general and this topic in particular – but I have addressed here the two most important that you should consider as it pertains to making sure that your sales playbook and your CRM system work optimally together.

1. Integration of Sales Playbook with the CRM System

This one should be a ‘no-brainer’. Let’s say you use Salesforce as your CRM. If that is the case, you are already asking your sales team to enter their opportunity information into Salesforce. If that is where your opportunity information is held, then that is where your playbook should be. It must integrate tightly with the CRM system so when the sales person works with an opportunity, the playbook will always be present, just where it needs to be. That way the playbook (if it is smart enough) can react to the stages of the sale, the attributes of the opportunity, like the size of the deal, or the products included in the opportunity record to present the right playbook for that opportunity.

But not all integrations are created equal. If you are on Salesforce, then the playbook will benefit hugely if it is ‘native’ on the Salesforce Platform. Unlike other solutions that are linked to Salesforce, or just lightly integrated, this means that your data resides in the Salesforce Cloud, with the same security as Saleforce, the same performance as Salesforce, and all of the data captured within the playbook is inherently accessible to Salesforce reports, dashboards, and other applications. You do not have to worry about the security of a third party Cloud, the data transfer issues that occur with non-native solutions, or the reliability of a third party hosting infrastructure.

Complete integration with your CRM delivers the optimum experience for the sales person, and provides sales managers with greater flexibility on how they view the data in the context of the rest of the business. It is important.

2. Informs Sales Forecast Visibility

Salespeople spend about 2.5 hours each week on sales forecasting, and for most companies, the accuracy of sales forecasts leave a lot to be desired. In fact, based on recent research; companies who do not define and effectively execute a sales process have inaccurate sales forecasts 71% of the time! When success or failure is usually measured in margins far less than 25% – these forecasts are truly worthless. The good news though is that there can be a very strong causal connection between sales process and forecast accuracy. In that same research study, it emerged that companies who did define and execute their sales process well reduced the level of inaccuracy to 33%. That is a 200% increase in sales forecast accuracy.

To maximize the impact of your sales playbook on the accuracy of your sales forecast, it must be integrated with the CRM and you should consider.

  • Does the sales playbook incorporate intelligence that objectively monitors or manages the close date of the sale? that is in the CRM? If you have built in the sales best practices, and your sales playbook can learn about the rhythm of your business, then it should be smart enough to help predict the close date of the opportunity, and identify for the sales person the difference between their opinion of when the deal will close, and a projected close date based on past behavior of winning sales cycle.
  • Does the sales playbook provide the sales manager with insight into deal vulnerabilities and risks in the forecast? It should be able to answer these very important questions: What’s in the forecast? Are any of the reps counting on unusually large deals to make the quarter? Are all deals being worked? What’s closed? What’s projected? Which deals are moving quickly, and where are the opportunities that are stalled?

Your sales playbook when integrated with the CRM should help you to give those 2.5 hours back to the sales person, improve the accuracy of the forecast for each opportunity, and provide the sales manager with insight into the factors that will help her understand what she needs to do to make or exceed the quota for the team.

(Disclosure: My company, The TAS Group, is in the business of helping companies increase sales velocity using Dealmaker Smart Sales Playbook integrated with

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Donal Daly
Donal is Founder and CEO of The TAS Group the creators of the Dealmaker intelligent sales software application. Donal also founded Software Development Tools - acquired by Wall Data (NASDAQ: WALL), NewWorld Commerce, The Customer Respect Group and Select Strategies. Donal is author of five books including his recent #1 Amazon Bestseller Account Planning in Salesforce. He can be found on his blog at or on Twitter @donaldaly


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