The more upmarket your B2B target customer is; the higher your dependency on outbound sales as your primary acquisition channel. If this is the case for your SaaS startup, process repeatability and standardization are vital to ensure measurable revenue growth
This article teaches how to design and implement a sales playbook, which will serve as a reference guide for your team’s daily interaction with prospects and leads at different stages of your sales funnel.
The more upmarket your B2B target customer is; the higher your dependency on outbound sales as your primary acquisition channel. If this is the case for your SaaS startup, process repeatability and standardization is vital to ensure measurable revenue growth — this is where a sales playbook comes in.
A playbook serves as a guide for what an AE (Account Executive) or SDR (Sales Development Rep.) should do at any given sales interaction with a prospect; from initial outreach, lead qualification and demo, to deal closing. It also includes details about the buyer personas, their motivations, as well as sales enablement resources like templates, scripts, case studies to adequately furnish a Rep’s toolkit.
This guide will cover:
- Why sales playbooks are important
- A detailed outline for creating a sales playbook for your team, and
- Common mistakes to avoid when creating and managing a sales playbook.
Why are sales playbooks important?
This quote from Salesforce succinctly describes the value of a having a playbook: “Almost half of all sales team don’t have a playbook. For the 60% that do have a well-defined sales process in place, the benefits are clear. Companies that follow a well-defined sales process are 33% MORE likely to be High Performers. The win rate exceeds 50% for two-thirds of companies that have a defined process in place.”
Playbooks can also help your team:
- Streamline new SDR/AE onboarding, and significantly cut ramp up time
- Do less content creation, and instead focus on selling your product
- Highlight the most effective sales engagement flows and techniques across the team for faster adoption
Sales playbook outline for B2B SaaS companies
- Define your product’s value proposition?
- What problem(s) does it solve?
- Describe the outcomes your customers achieve after using your product for x number of weeks/months
- What industry or vertical do you primarily sell to?
- What are the key features of your product, including 3rd party integrations?
- What are the key benefits of these features?
- What are the pricing tiers and how are they different in terms of value provided? Include details about complementary add-ons.
- List at least 5 direct and indirect competitors that prospects will likely explore alongside your product
- Create a product comparison chart outlining how your product sets itself apart from each competitor/alternative. Differences could be in terms of feature set, pricing and delivery model or customer success.
- Create an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)
- How does your buyer define the problem that led them to your product?
- On average, what value in $ terms does your buyer attribute to your product/solution? I.e. Within 60 days of implementing x product, buyers see an average of 30% lift in revenue/cost reduction
- What is your buyer’s process before a deal is closed? What is the typical journey from discovery to evaluating your product and making a purchase decision? Note that this will slightly vary across companies and verticals.
- What is the job title of the buyer and users of your product within these organizations? In most cases, buyers are not necessarily the end users of B2B SaaS products.
- What is the job title of the typical product champion within your prospect’s organization?
- What sales methodology does your team follow? This could be any of the established methodologies like SPIN selling, Value selling or a custom methodology
- What does your sales funnel look like?
- List and describe each opportunity stage, and state the criteria for moving a lead across stages.
- Who is responsible for each stage of the funnel?
Resources & Content Library:
- What are the best conversation starters for discovery calls?
- Create a list of discovery questions to help qualify leads. If applicable, categorize these questions by verticals or segment (e.g. SMB, Mid-market, Enterprise)
- How should your team evaluate the responses to the discovery questions to see if a lead is qualified and ready for a demo?
- What common questions should your sales reps anticipate from the prospect during a discovery call? Include recommended answers.
- Attach audio samples of your best performing discovery calls
- Add links to training resources to help your team level-up their discovery skills
- Create a demo outline/script
- Add a checklist of items that must be covered in every demo to increase conversion
- Attach audio samples of your best performing demos
- What common questions should your sales reps anticipate from a lead during a demo? Include recommended answers.
- What are common objections from leads? Include objection handlers/responses.
- Add links training resources to help your team deliver better demos and closing.
- Product sheet with pricing information
- Easy to edit sales deck for each target vertical/segment
- Links to product training materials, including pre-recorded demos, webinars, and support documentation. Organize this section by topic, and include notes on when a Rep should use them in the sales process.
- Case studies, testimonials, and ratings from 3rd party review sites like G2 crowd, Trust Radius, etc.
- Whitepapers, internal blogs, and 3rd party content related to your industry. Organize this section by topic, and include notes on when a Rep should use them in the sales process.
- Outreach cadences by lead vertical or segment. Ideally, you should have these pre-loaded into your sales engagement tool for each Rep.
- Describe the tools your team needs at every stage of the sales process. This includes your CRM, sales engagement tools for initial outreach, qualification and demo scheduling (E.g. Outreach.io, Distrobird, Reply.io), and conferencing tools for delivering demos.
- Why is each tool important?
- How do you track compliance?
- What are some of the best practices and tips to help your team successfully utilize these tools?
- Who should your team contact for any technical issues?
Sales Team Directory & Org Chart:
- Provide a sales team org chart and team directory
- Provide a detailed job description with clear responsibilities and expectations for each role
Comps & OKRs:
- List the selling activities for each role (SDR, BDR, AE).
- How much of each activity should a rep complete every day/week/month/quarter/year?
- Create a recommended schedule of activities by day of the week for each role.
- What average results do you expect from high performers on your team? E.g. Response rates, Initial-outreach-to-demo-conversion, demo-to-close conversion, etc.
- Define your monthly, quarterly and annual quota per Rep.
- What is the expected On Target Earnings (OTE)? Bonuses?
- Describe the career path for each role. What would it take in terms of earnings and/or experience to get promoted?
The outline above will likely vary depending on your product, target market, and the internal processes you already have in place. The key thing to note is that your sales playbook is only as valuable as how quickly a novice sales rep can understand your product, processes and ramp up with minimal hand-holding.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when thinking about creating and managing a sales playbook:
- Waiting too long to create a sales playbook after launching your SaaS product.
- Making your playbook a static document. This content library should constantly evolve based on feedback from your sales team, as well as results from internal tests of your processes.
- Updating your playbook too frequently without informed metrics. This is the opposite of mistake # 2.
- Not tracking your team’s sales playbook compliance.
Is it worth the time investment?
Putting together and constantly updating a content library with this much detail can certainly prove daunting. However, it’s important to note that regardless of how talented your sales team might be, the lack of a detailed playbook will make selling your product unnecessarily challenging, and limit how well your team acquires new customers.
So yes, it is definitely worth your time investment.
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