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I've seen the phrase "sales play" on IBM site (see link).

What does it mean?

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A play in this context is a plan or strategy -- in this case, a plan or strategy for making a sales pitch. Note that one of the links on the page in your link is for a sales playbook, which contains this preface:

  • This playbook is designed to provide you a view of the IBM Business Partner sales plays that your sellers can use as they develop their sales strategy
  • Each play includes quick reference guides and enablement links to pursue sales activities throughout the sales cycle
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I think Gnawme nailed it. In American football, each team has a playbook, which is comprised of running plays, and passing plays. Before each play, each team gets in a huddle, and calls a play. The idiom "take a play from the playbook" is sports-derived; it essentially means "select an apt plan or strategy."

I'm guessing that, by using the term sales play, the company is training its sales force to "take a play from the playbook" in various situations. Moreover, by using this somewhat playful means of compiling and listing these approaches, IBM is trying to emphasize the concept of teamwork among its sales force.

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