Your company sales manual is your sales department’s “how-to” guide for success. It tells your sales reps not only what you sell, but also where, why, how and to whom. So, if you don’t already have a sales manual, it’s time to write one. Your sales force – and your bottom line – will thank you.
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A sales manual is a how-to guide that teaches your team how to close prospects. Your sales manual should be a living document that is updated continuously to reflect current policies and practices. This document should be written in a similar style as an instruction book. The goal is for anyone to be able to pick it up and learn how to make a successful sale for your company. All that being said, it is important to remember that this is just a document. It doesn’t replace hands-on employee training. Your sales manual should be used to complement the one-on-one training you provide your sales team.
Having a sales manual isn’t a given for all businesses. Research from Clodura shows that 40 percent of sales teams don’t have a sales manual, causing their team to fall prey to ineffective sales strategies.
Describe what you sell
Outline your ideal customer
Explain your sales process
Describe your business model
Communicate why you sell
Manage who sells
Here is more on each step of creating a sales manual.
To get started, you must determine how you plan to deliver the sales manual to your team members. Get organized before deciding which components to include in the manual. Many managers find an outline is an excellent way to ensure you have all the necessary information.
Without first getting organized and creating an outline, you will likely fill the manual with unnecessary information. Create a draft for your outline and use the main subjects you want to cover as chapter headings.
From there, you can use essential steps as subheadings. Here is an example:
Chapter 4: Keeping Consistent Sales Records
One of the most important topics to cover in your sales manual is company inventory. In this chapter, it’s essential to keep the formatting simple so your employees can quickly scan the document.
Use lots of bullets and illustrations to highlight critical information. And make the information easy to find by including a table of contents.
Your salesforce can’t sell a product they don’t understand. Be sure to cover the following information about your products in detail:
In addition to understanding your product, your sales reps must know who they are selling it to. Provide them with actionable information about your customer demographics, like age, gender and income.
You can also describe your average customer’s lifestyle and personality, consumer expectations, and market potential. This information and the other details in the manual will change periodically, so it’s important to update your customer information regularly.
If you create a cloud-based sales manual, you’ll easily be able to update this information as it changes.
Next, explain the process your sales reps will go through to sell to a potential customer. Describe the entire sales funnel. This includes everything from how you find leads, the initial point of contact and how to eventually make the sale. This information will enable your sales team to maximize conversion rates.
Include resources your team members can access to follow your company’s preferred sales strategies. Multimedia formats are popular with modern sales manuals.
Also consider including outbound links to videos that demonstrate examples of a successful sales interaction. This is an improvement over including a bunch of sales scripts, which lack personality.
You also want to make sure your staff understands any software or digital systems you have in place to support your sales process. This includes top CRM software, like Salesforce or Freshworks. If you want to learn more, you can read our review of Salesforce or our Freshworks review.
It’s also important to equip your team with the knowledge it needs about your business as a whole. Do you run a brick-and-mortar business or an e-commerce business?
If you run a physical store, explain your location strategy, real estate profile and how you stock inventory. If you run an online business, provide a site map of your website and detailed instructions for finding products online.
Your salespeople aren’t just selling your products; they’re selling your company too. Provide a complete company history in your sales manual, and outline your mission statement and values.
At this point, you might consider giving a rough draft of your sales manual to key members of your team and asking them to provide feedback. Your initial drafts should be interactive since you want to make sure your sales team is getting everything they need from the manual.
Ask for feedback not only on the information included, but also on the length and format. Do your employees find it easy to read? Is it easy to locate important information? Is the length appropriate, or is the sales manual too long or too short?
A complete sales manual should also include information on human resources procedures. This includes sales-specific policies on hours, travel, expense reporting and compensation. This information is especially important if your team works on commission.
Having a well-thought-out sales manual provides your business with a variety of benefits:
Although it can be a tedious process, be thorough when drafting your sales manual. The effectiveness of your sales manual can have a major impact on your company’s overall success.