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Updated Dec 20, 2023

Creating a Sales Manual

Build a winning sales force by giving your team a tool to live by.

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Written By: Jamie JohnsonSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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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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What is a sales manual?

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.

Did You Know?Did you know
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.

How do you create a sales manual?

Step 1

Get organized

Step 2

Describe what you sell

Step 3

Outline your ideal customer

Step 4

Explain your sales process

Step 5

Describe your business model

Step 6

Communicate why you sell

Step 7

Manage who sells

Here is more on each step of creating a sales manual.

Step 1: Get organized.

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

  • Importance of Recordkeeping
  • Tools for Issuing Accurate Sales Receipts
  • Follow-up Using Sales Records

Step 2: Describe what you sell.

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:

  • Product features and benefits
  • Product demos
  • Sales volume
  • Product costs
  • Wholesale and retail prices
  • Manufacturing specifics
  • Potential problems or objections
  • Return policies

Step 3: Outline your ideal customer.

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.

Step 4: Explain your sales process.

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.

TipBottom line
If you don't have an established sales process yet, check out our complete guide on building a sales process before continuing on to create your sales manual.

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.

Step 5: Describe your business model.

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.

Step 6: Communicate why you sell.

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?

Step 7: Manage who sells.

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.

What are the benefits of a sales manual?

Having a well-thought-out sales manual provides your business with a variety of benefits:

  • It keeps employees on the same page. A sales manual can help keep new and seasoned employees on the same page. It ensures your messaging is consistent across all of your employees, eliminating confusion when multiple people are dealing with prospects.
  • It aligns your sales team with company priorities. A good sales manual helps members of your sales team see how their efforts benefit the rest of the company. By creating a repeatable process that all of your sales staff can follow, you’ll improve your onboarding and strengthen company culture.
  • It improves sales and marketing alignment. The manual can also educate your sales reps on your marketing goals and initiatives. This understanding helps promote better sales and marketing alignment.
  • It equips your sales team with the tools it needs. A proper manual gives your sales reps the tools they need to close deals and turn prospects into buyers. Your reps will understand how to overcome rejections and speak to your company’s value proposition. Over the long run, this will help you increase your sales and thus your bottom line.

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.

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Written By: Jamie JohnsonSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Jamie Johnson has spent more than five years providing invaluable financial guidance to business owners, leading them through the financial intricacies of entrepreneurship. From offering investment lessons to recommending funding options, business loans and insurance, Johnson distills complex financial matters into easily understandable and actionable advice, empowering entrepreneurs to make informed decisions for their companies. As a business owner herself, she continually tests and refines her business strategies and services. Johnson's expertise is evident in her contributions to various finance publications, including Rocket Mortgage, InvestorPlace, Insurify and Credit Karma. Moreover, she has showcased her command of other B2B topics, ranging from sales and payroll to marketing and social media, with insights featured in esteemed outlets such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CNN, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and Business Insider.
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