Why You Need Sales Documentation to Build a Kick-ass Sales Team
This is a Guest post from Steli Efti, CEO of Close.io
Your prospects are smarter than ever. Are you?
The need for a strong sales team has surpassed the need for a good marketing team, says Y Combinator co-founder Jessica Livingston. With 2016’s startup reset, that’s on track to become even more true.
There was a time when a buyer’s primary source of information was a salesperson, but that isn’t true anymore. The internet has put information (and misinformation) about your brand in the palm of your prospect’s hands.
The tables have turned. If you want to keep up, you don’t just need a better sales team. You need a smarter sales team.
And the quickest way to boost your team’s sales IQ? Kickass sales documentation.
What is sales documentation?
Sales documentation is just a catchall term for anything you’ve written down that provides guidance to your sales team, including things like phone scripts, email templates and objection management guides.
Some of you are thinking, “Sales scripts are for amateurs! My reps are seasoned pros, not mindless sales puppets. They already know how to sell and what to say!”
I know, I’ve heard it all before. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding sales documentation. Forget all of that for now, and let’s examine why sales scripts aren’t just a valuable tool, they’re a necessity in today’s market.
Why you need sales documentation
The most common argument against sales scripts is that they turn salespeople into robots without personality, passion, or connection to the customer. Effective scripts will not have that effect on good salespeople.
With that misconception debunked, let’s take a look at the benefits of proper sales documentation:
The process of writing down your pitch is really valuable. It forces you to think about how you present yourself and your product, and gives you the opportunity to add clarity and structure instead of just “winging it”.
Sales documentation should be a collaborative process involving the entire sales team. Tap into the unique strengths of each salesperson to create a well-rounded pitch and, as that pitch evolves, the improvements will affect the entire team.
Used correctly, a sales script creates much more freedom than restrictions. When your reps don’t have to mentally prepare what to say next, they become better listeners who can focus on providing value in an engaging way.
How to create sales documentation
You’ve got two choices for initial creation:
Create your documentation from scratch, or
Jumpstart yours with templates (like some examples at the bottom of this article)
Either way, here are two principles to keep in mind as you create your scripts.
1. Collaborate with the entire team
A lot of businesses have their sales manager create a script for the rest of the team to use. Big mistake.
Half the value of sales documentation comes from the collaborative process of creating it. Your entire team should be involved from start to finish.
Make this a priority by setting aside one hour this week for the entire team to work together on it.
2. Don’t invest more than an hour
The first draft of your sales documentation is going to suck no matter how much time you spend on it. It’s just the version one, don’t aim for perfection. Don’t spend any more than an hour creating your first draft.
As you’ll learn in a moment, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” or “complete” script. It’ll be revised over and over again, so don’t waste time upfront. Get the basics on paper; the rest will come with time. Done is better than perfect.
How to use sales documentation
Incorporate the first drafts of your documentation into your sales process immediately. The sooner you start using them, the sooner you can improve them. Here are three steps to get the most out of your scripts.
Step one: Memorization
Your entire team should have the scripts memorized.
One way to help your team commit them to memory is to let them practice amongst themselves. Assign one person to play the prospect and let the others practice their lines.
It may be rough at first, so let your salespeople stumble in a controlled environment.
Step two: Utilization
After (or before) everyone is comfortable with the script, get them in front of prospects and see how they do under pressure. Then give them the freedom to experiment.
When you have an entire sales team looking for ways to improve the sales documentation, you’ll be on your way to a masterpiece.
Step three: Revision
A sales script isn’t a novel. It’s not something you write, publish, and never touch again. Good sales documentation is never “done”. You and your team should always be looking for ways to improve it.
Make that improvement a priority by holding twice-monthly meetings with your sales team where they can ask questions, offer suggestions, and make revisions. Then get them back on the floor with the revised copy and repeat the process.
Use a CRM like Close.io (we’ve got a free trial!) that allows you to track your sales data. This data will be invaluable in identifying weaknesses in your documentation.
As your scripts become more refined, you can meet less often; but still meet. This continuous improvement is what turns a simple piece of paper into a highly-effective sales tool.
If you’ve never created sales documentation before, it can seem daunting.
Don’t worry: We’ve been there. Scripts are a huge part of our sales process at Close.io so we’ve made a lot of them freely available for our readers. For example:
Looking for a way to level-up your team's skill at writing documentation? Check out our Process Documentation Template.
Creating phone scripts? Check out How to create a sales call script.
Writing effective emails? Check out these five cold email templates and these eight CRM-ready sales email templates.
Compiling your objection management document? Check out How to manage any sales objection successfully.
Those are a great place to start, but the rest is up to you. Set up a team meeting, create your documentation, then get out there and crush it!