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Creating a Sales Manual

Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson

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

Your company sales manual is your sales department's "how-to" guide for achieving 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.

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. It should be updated on an ongoing basis 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 and hands-on training. Your sales manual should be used to complement the one-on-one training you provide your sales team.

What are the benefits of a sales manual?

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

  • Keeps employees on the same page. A sales manual can help keep new and seasoned employees stay on the same page. It ensures your messaging is consistent across all of your employees, eliminating confusion when multiple people are dealing with prospects.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Equips your sales team with the tools they need. 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.

Did you know?Did you know? Having a sales manual isn't a given for all businesses. Research shows that 40% of sales teams don’t have a sales manual, causing their team to fall prey to ineffective sales strategies.

How to Create a Sales Manual

Step 1Get organized
Step 2Describe what you sell
Step 3Outline your ideal customer
Step 4

Explain your sales process

Step 5Describe your business model
Step 6Communicate why you sell
Step 7Manage who sells

Here is more on each step of the process 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 on what components to include in the manual. Many managers find an outline is a good way to ensure you have all the necessary information.

Without first getting organized and creating an outline, you’re likely to 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 list important steps as subheadings. Here is an example of this:

Chapter 4: Keeping Consistent Sales Records

  • Importance of Record-Keeping
  • 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 in the beginning.

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

FYIFYI: Only 35% of sales teams track the effectiveness of their sales manual.

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, you need to 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 their 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.

And consider including outbound links to videos that demonstrate examples of a successful sales interaction. This is an improvement over including too many sales scripts that 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.

Editor's note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Step 5. Describe your business model

It's also important to equip your team with the knowledge they need about your business as a whole. Do you run a brick-and-mortar business? Or do you run 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 ask 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.

Image Credit: Atstock Productions/Shutterstock
Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson
business.com Contributing Writer
Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about finance and business. She has also written for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fox Business and Business Insider. Jamie has written about a variety of B2B topics like finance, business funding options and accounting. She also writes about how businesses can grow through effective social media and email marketing strategies.