indexThere is a lot of chatter lately from industry pundits about the central role that CRM-integrated sales playbooks can play in successful sales enablement programs and initiatives. Forrester included a track titled “Improving Sales Productivity By Implementing Sales Playbooks” at its recently-held Technology Sales Enablement Forum in San Francisco. Sirius Decisions has published a couple of briefs about why and how to build and deploy sales playbooks. CSO Insights just added Sales Playbooks as a category to the “Optimizing Use of CRM” of their Solution Center – the two other technology categories they recommend for optimizing CRM are Sales Intelligence and Sales Process Integration.

We would go as far as saying that CRM-integrated sales playbooks enable sales enablement. Here are a few definitions we have come across for the term “sales enablement”:

  • IDC: One of the earliest definitions (January 2009): “The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”
  • Forrester (August 2010): “Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”
  • Wikipedia: “Sales Enablement is defined as providing the necessary information, tools and technologies to enable a sales force to succeed.”

Let’s look at how Sirius Decisions defines “sales playbook” to help us contrast and compare:

  • “A sales playbook takes an often-overwhelming amount of marketing-created information and distills it into a series of ?plays? that can be applied to help facilitate specific stages of buying processes for specific audiences within target markets.”

Substitute “sales playbook” for “sales enablement” or vice versa and you see a very significant overlap in the meaning and purpose of the terms. CRM-integrated sales playbooks, at their most basic level, are the means, per IDC’s definition of “sales enablement”, for delivering “the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist moving a specific sales opportunity forward.” We believe that the implementation of CRM-integrated sales playbooks will be integral to the evolution of the burgeoning sales enablement discipline and the degree to which companies are able to effectively execute their sales enablement strategies.