Do you want to close more deals consistently, enhance the efficiency of your sales team, and minimize the onboarding duration of your sales reps?
You may be thinking that it sounds too good to be true, but hear me out: create a sales playbook.
HBR research shows that leading sales ops teams attribute more than 60% of their quarterly pipeline to actively designed and deployed sales plays. That’s WILD!
With that in mind, let’s look at sales playbooks and their role in SaaS more closely.
What is a sales playbook in SaaS?
A sales playbook is a reusable, centralized information hub for all things sales.
It serves as a reference guide to ensure consistency in the sales process and empower sales reps with the tools and information necessary to achieve successful sales outcomes.
Sales playbooks prescribe activities for different stages of the sales process, all the way through prospecting, nurturing, qualifying, and offer presentation. Its power lies in the ability to serve as a framework that can be replicated for the same scenarios (“sales plays”) time and time again.
A good SaaS playbook comprises templates, scripts, objection handling points, negotiation questions, pain points, ICPs, and more. It offers clear and comprehensive instructions on:
- identifying target customers,
- understanding their purchasing behavior,
- recognizing their pain points,
- knowing what to communicate to them.
What is the difference between a sales play and a sales playbook?
A sales play outlines a sequence of recurring steps, activities, and effective techniques that sales reps should employ in a particular situation.
A sales playbook is a compilation of numerous sales plays and workflows, such as:
- use case plays,
- demo plays,
- closing plays,
- crosssell plays
- upsell plays,
- retention plays.
The best thing about a sales playbook is that it’s inclusive by design, creating value for both newcomers and seasoned sales reps.
The anatomy of an ideal SaaS sales playbook
To bring perfect harmony to your sales team and grow your qualified pipeline, consider adding the following components to your SaaS sales playbook:
1. Market research and target audience: Identify the target market, analyze customer needs, and assess the competitive landscape. Determine the Ideal Customer Profile for your software solution.
Hint: Leverage Customer Fit Scores and product usage signals in Breyta to surface a list of your target accounts. Fully customize your Customer Fit Score to ensure it reflects all the predefined ICP criteria.
2. Product strategy: Define the product vision, value proposition, and product-market fit. Identify the core features and functionalities that solve customer problems and differentiate your solution from competitors.
Hint: Identify product usage events that indicate purchase intent for your software product specifically. Look for aha moments where users realize your value and track product usage events accompanying them.
3. Sales technology stack to identify high-impact plays: Implement sales tools to collect and analyze data on user behavior, product usage, and business performance.
Hint: A good sales toolkit unifies data from multiple platforms to give you a single view of all your user interactions, regardless of where they come from. This helps you act on meaningful opportunities as they unfold and employ the right sales play at the right time.
4. Messaging and positioning: Utilizing competitive matrices, video explanations, infographics, case studies, and customer testimonials are simple methods for effectively communicating your core value propositions.
Hint: Let your customers do the talking! Case studies have been rated as the #1 most effective marketing tactic to increase sales in the 2023 SaaS Case Studies Trends & Insights Report.
5. Sales funnels: Define the sales process, score definitions, set up sales funnels, and establish sales enablement resources, including those for objection handling.
Hint: With data activation solutions like Breyta, you can figure out what PQLs and PQAs look like for your SaaS specifically. We’re not fans of black box scoring and don’t believe in the “one size fits all” approach. Scores should be dynamic and ever-evolving, so it's beneficial to choose a data activation solution that lets you iterate on your scores and keep them fully visible.
6. Scaling and growth: Develop a plan for scaling operations, infrastructure, and team. Explore expansion opportunities, such as entering new markets, launching additional products, or targeting different customer segments.
Hint: Targeted segmentation powered by product data usage beats any other filter out there! Breyta surfaces high-propensity customers in the form of signal lists, which work just like an inbox for your leads.
7. Continuous improvement and iteration: Emphasize a culture of continuous improvement and iterate on your product, processes, and strategies based on customer feedback, market trends, and business outcomes.
Hint: In SaaS, Product Qualified Accounts (PQAs) are the fuel of growth. To keep delivering value, their definitions must be continuously revisited. PQAs aren’t a “one-time” pass-through gate, but rather continuous scores are affected by factors such as attrition.
Why sales playbooks are the lifeblood of SaaS businesses
Every year, SaaS revenue teams are tasked with finding ways to do more with less. A combination of COVID-19 with a range of socioeconomic changes has put even more pressure on teams to find repeatable, reusable ways of increasing pipeline.
Think about it this way. Selling SaaS products entails:
- selling complex and evolving solutions to diverse stakeholders,
- in a highly competitive and volatile market,
- with the expectation of cutting costs while doing so.
For SaaS teams, sales playbooks provide the much-needed framework that empowers them with the knowledge, consistency, and adaptability they need to effectively sell complex software solutions to diverse audiences.
In many segments, competition-to-the-almost-death seems the norm in SaaS.Jason M. Lemkin, SaaS Founder, Enthusiast & VC
As many SaaS segments remain dominated by oligopolies (a scenario where a handful of category leaders own most of the market share), sales teams must bring out the big guns for every opportunity.
The future isn’t looking any brighter.
The global tech industry is finding itself in a much tougher spot now compared to just a year ago. As a consequence, the struggle of SaaS sales continues to intensify, raising questions about how much more challenging it can become.
7 killer tactics to create a SaaS sales playbook
Let's get right to it.
Tactic #1: Employ the right plays at the right time
Running successful plays starts with figuring out who you should be selling to and when. Revenue teams struggle to make sense of fragmentary user behavior insights scattered across a ton of solutions and tabs.
It’s a maze.
Luckily, there’s a way out.
Have you read the 2023 BCG research Tech Is Cooling Off. B2B SaaS Is Not? It is PACKED with great SaaS insights, but there are two nuggets of wisdom you simply can’t miss:
- Leading companies invest from 25% to 30% of revenue into their GTM strategy, of which 80% is spent on sales.
- Companies that invested in advanced lead-scoring systems grew 75% faster than companies with basic technology.
To build a testing lab for all your sales plays and pinpoint when to employ them, you need a CRM complete with lead scoring and data activation features.
Tactic #2: Get product, sales, success, and marketing fully aligned
Shift the focus from transactional sales to building relationships, where individuals from all departments collaborate to ensure customer success. By fostering collboration, teams can establish a unified and impactful message that resonates with the market and showcases the value of the product.
To get everyone in full sync, orchestrate regular product, sales, success, and marketing meetings to design plays to be tested by the sales team. The meeting should work as a command center for all things sales and focus on collaborating on sales success.
The benefits are manifold.
When teams understand what the others are working on and what challenges they face, they can help each other achieve common goals. What is more, regular feedback from sales, success, and marketing to the product team can help in guiding the product roadmap. This in turn leads to a product that better suits customer needs and market demands.
Tactic #3: Add crosssell and upsell plays to the mix
Meshing sales plays with crosssell and upsell is a great strategy to accelerate your revenue.
SaaS companies need to make customer success an organization-wide goal. Data shows that the success function is essential in the case of Analytics and Marketing technology. BCG reports that these SaaS categories come with an average churn rate of 16% - twice that of other software categories.
Here’s a handy framework that can help you there:
1. Create a single source of truth for all customer data to ensure seamless collaboration among the entire Go-to-Market (GTM) team.
2. Keep your finger on the pulse of your potential and existing customers. Constantly sync product usage insights to turn them into action for your success team.
3. Create fully customizable Customer Health Scores based on your unique product usage events. Get these delivered as signals as soon as they meet your predefined criteria.
Once that happens, it’s like a switch has been flipped - you see exactly what condition an account is in and what they need to experience value.
4. Define product usage events known as success milestones to identify crosssell and upsell opportunities.
5. Route accounts to your upsell and crosssell plays as soon as they meet your predefined criteria.
Tactic #4: Create an outbound sales playbook
Outbound is tricky and even seasoned reps are finding it more difficult to elicit a response these days.
To increase your odds, get your hands on as much information as possible about the company, its toolkit, pain points, and the goals of the individuals you’re reaching out to. The trick is to automate as much as you can by pulling data available on the web and selecting companies matching your ICP to the tee.
Tactic #5: Leverage data enrichment to route leads to specific plays more accurately
To put things mildly, user information available to you after signup is limited. The more you know about your leads, the more likely you are to win them over.
With Clearbit data enrichment, you can add 100+ reliable firmographic, demographic, and technographic B2B attributes to every contact and account.
Humble brag: Breyta is fully integrated with Clearbit.
Tactic #6: Onboard sales reps and reduce turnover via playbooks
Don't let the fear of onboarding new team members keep you up at night. With a well-formulated SaaS sales playbook, new hires hit the ground running, absorbing all the know-how they need in record time.
Sales playbooks save valuable time for sales reps, especially new hires. Instead of spending excessive time searching for or creating content, they can focus on nurturing leads and closing sales. By providing ready-made content and focusing on sales enablement, such as messaging, questions, and resources for engaging with prospects, you empower your reps and allow them to allocate more time to actual selling activities.
Why is this so important, you may ask?
Well, according to HubSpot, the average sales rep tenure is just 18 months. This is especially concerning if you consider that sales reps reach peak performance somewhere between year three and five in a role (Xactly Insights research).
Tactic #7: Keep iterating on your plays
The ocean of plays and workflows is a difficult one to navigate. With a sea of data available, it’s virtually impossible to make sense of it without segmentation.
On top of that, markets, customer needs, and businesses are dynamic. And so is your product: many moving parts will get upgraded or even replaced.
As both the market and your product evolve, you need to test your scores, ICPs, filters, product usage signals, and everything else to keep your plays relevant.
SaaS sales playbooks actually make iterating easier because they serve as a platform for sharing the most effective selling techniques within your team. These techniques can be iterated collaboratively. If a particular outreach method proves successful for one sales representative, it can easily be disseminated to the entire team by incorporating it into the playbook.
How Breyta can support you in running sales plays
Our CRM and data activation combo is designed to help you improve the efficiency of your plays by offering deeper insights, automating processes, and enhancing customer engagements.
With Breyta, you can:
- Define your PQLs and PQAs - these will help you figure out high-propensity accounts,
- Deploy predesigned sales plays accordingly and keep an eye on how they’re performing,
- Rinse and repeat.
Enhanced Customer Insights: Gather, analyze, and activate data from various sources to get a 360-degree view of the customer. This comprehensive view can enable sales teams to understand customer needs, behaviors, and preferences, helping them to tailor their sales plays accordingly.
Personalization: With detailed customer insights, sales teams can personalize their sales plays to match the unique needs and pain points of each prospect. This level of personalization can significantly enhance the effectiveness of sales plays.
Performance Tracking: Track the success of each sales play, providing data on which strategies are working and which are not. This can enable continuous improvement of sales plays.
Scalability: With Breyta, sales plays can be scaled up easily as surfacing the right accounts is fully automated.
Despite the continued resilience of the B2B SaaS segment, business-to-business sales remain largely ad hoc. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
While the idea of a sales playbook isn’t an innovative one, it’s the execution that matters. With sales tools advancements, identify trends signaled by various customer behaviors and design ways the best ways to act on them.
Though creating a sales playbook may require a significant investment of time, the return on investment is well worth it. In other words, without a sales playbook, sales representatives have to reinvent the wheel with each new opportunity.
Think of a playbook as your team's secret weapon. It's like the ultimate cheat sheet, helping everyone sell consistently and confidently.