How to build your winning 2023 SaaS sales playbook - A Comprehensive Guide
In sales enablement, a sales playbook is one of the most essential tools. “Almost half of all sales teams 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.”
In sales enablement, a sales playbook is one of the most essential tools because, among other things, it allows all your sales reps - as well as any other department in your organization - to access the right information at the right time.
Why is that so important? Because the ability to immediately and quickly access relevant knowledge can be the difference between making or breaking the deal, especially in a fast-paced and highly competitive environment such as SaaS, in which approaches and tactics must be continuously updated, refined, and tested.
But that’s only one advantage.
Sales playbooks also allow your sales team to operate within your strategy in a unified, standardized manner, empowering them and improving their performance, which directly affects your bottom line and allows continued growth.
Not convinced? The following Salesforce report demonstrates just how important a sales playbook is:
“Almost half of all sales teams 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.”
What is a B2B SaaS Sales Playbook?
A sales playbook is a comprehensive resource sales teams use to maintain the organization’s best practices, strategies, and tactics throughout the various stages of the sales cycle.
It contains the steps that should be taken in every sales situation and provides all the necessary information needed for a successful sales operation.
The key components of a B2B SaaS playbook
Seeing as every company has its own unique goals, your playbook should be based on your company’s unique best practices, strategies, and tactics.
Yet, although the list of playbook components may vary, an effective B2B playbook should include the following.
- Company outline. This includes the company’s sales processes, sales enablement tools, sales strategies, and sales goals.
- Product details. An explanation about the product - what it is, how it works, its benefits, and differentiating aspects.
- Competitive research. A comprehensive review of the competition’s strategies and products.
- Personas. An outline of your ideal demographic: their needs and pain points, what’s important to them, and how your product can be the right solution for them.
- Data. Any relevant industry research, statistics, trends, and so on.
- Strategy. The strategies sales people can use during sales demos to help them close deals.
- Sales process. A detailed guide of the set of steps salespersons should take with every sale.
- Goals. KPIs and goals that allow sales leaders and teams to measure the success of each person.
Why do you need a sales playbook?
We’ve already established that a B2B sales playbook is a necessary tool, but it’s also much more than that.
Since it contains all the components listed above, a sales playbook also provides highly valuable insights into your entire sales operation.
Here are the added benefits of playbooks.
- Higher winning rates and revenue. According to an Aberdeen study, “users of sales playbooks also improve their results on a year-to-year when compared to non-adopters…3.9% larger average deal size or contract value, compared with 2.8%.”
- Standardized sales framework. A comprehensive, effective playbook allows salespeople to work within a clear and cohesive framework. In other words, with a good playbook, sales leaders can be assured that the entire team can access and use tried and true winning plays and maintain consistency.
- Reduced ramp-up times. SAVO Group (now part of Seismic) reports that most employees forget 65% of the information they learned within seven days of their training. A good sales playbook framework is an effective solution to this sharp forgetting curve, as it allows easy access to everything the reps need in real-time. With an effective playbook at hand, new hires can hit the ground running much sooner and start closing deals much faster. In addition, working with good sales playbook software that helps you easily turn training into seller actions reduces training costs and basically eliminates the forgetting curve altogether.
- Nurture collaborations. According to Salesforce, 81% of sales representatives say team selling helps them close deals. A good sales playbook software allows team members, as well as different departments, to easily work together and achieve better outcomes.
"I needed to ensure that I was bringing on reps and ramping these reps as quickly as possible. It wasn't easy to do without a properly defined scalable process, what we call our' sales navigation system'. It is a basic Six Step Sales Process that is repeatable against any segment or vertical."
"This methodology was to create that structure and to ensure that my sales reps I was bringing on were providing the same experience. And doing so allowed the building of the system and the building of the methodology, creating scalable onboarding and enablement. I see this as development and growth at an expedited rate."
Matt Meghory - VP of Sales at SysAid
What to include in your B2B sales playbook
As mentioned, each company has its own unique playbook content, but there are a few guidelines that will help you create an effective and useful playbook.
Here’s how you build a SaaS sales playbook, step by step.
1. Sales cycle stages
Outline each stage of your sales process so that your sales reps are clear on what’s expected of them and can access it whenever they need to. This can include the following:
- Best practices
- Discovery questions
- Social proof
- Client information
Each stage should also include or allow sales rep’s notes, selling tips and visual aids, such as slides, that salespeople can easily use and even tailor to specific prospects.
2. Product information
Effective sales playbooks should provide extensive information about the company’s products. This does not mean you should excessively specify every technical detail about your product. The goal is to allow the sales reps to easily and quickly reference any information they may need about the product while they’re on the call.
Focus on providing an overview of what your product does, and explain why each feature matters.
This way, you can also ensure consistent product messaging across your sales team and other departments as well.
3. Handling objections
It’s essential that reps are armed with answers to the most frequent questions prospective buyers may ask.
Such questions can include:
- How can your product solve my company’s problems/needs?
- What makes your solution better than other products out there?
- Why should I choose your product and not your competitors’ solution?
By properly handling objections, your reps have an opportunity to show the buyers they understand their pain and address their concerns directly.
4. Storytelling support
“The combination of data + story - satisfying both left and right brain thinking - is what will ignite your audience to act,” writes Kate Harrison in her Forbes article, A Good Presentation Is About Data And Story.
Since SaaS teams respond well to facts (and metrics), make sure you tell them a story that’s based on a variety of success stories that can prove how your product helped others achieve their goals and how it met their needs.
5. Buyer personas
Each buyer has its unique needs and issues, so each demo should be tailored accordingly. To allow sales teams to understand their buyers and provide custom solutions, they should have all the buyer’s details at hand, clearly laid out.
Collect buyer-specific information such as unique needs, objections, challenges, and questions, and add them to your playbook.
Sales reps need to be prepared to talk about prices, so pricing information should be available to them in the playbook, including various discounts and possible bundles.
It's also best to include answers to specific pricing questions and responses, such as:
- What is the timeframe for the return on investment?
- Which pricing options are right for me?
- We don’t have the budget for this at the moment
Tips on writing a SaaS sales playbook
When you’re ready to start creating your playbook, keep in mind the following sales playbook best practices.
1. Set goals
This is an initial stage that precedes the actual content that will go into your playbook.
Before you do anything else, you need to ask yourself what outcomes you’re looking for and what it is you want to achieve. Does your team need a clearer structure? Do you need to improve collaborations between the various departments? Should you improve your processes?
It is natural for sales people to be goal oriented, so feel free to set specific goals to motivate your sales team, make it easier for them to adapt to your best practices and let them know exactly what is expected of them.
2. Determine who will contribute to your playbook
Creating a new playbook is a huge undertaking, so you’ll need to put together the right team of contributors.
Consider inviting the following people to collaborate and provide insights:
- Top sellers
- Product managers
- Sales VPs, directors, and managers
- Tech specialists
Make sure you specify exactly who is responsible for what and who is leading the project (it can be more than one person) so that they know who can answer their questions and give them feedback.
3. Organize your content
Go over your company’s content library and make sure all resources are up to date, well organized, easily accessible, and can be easily tailored to specific buyers.
4. Leverage winning plays and train constantly
Leverage the skills of your highest-performing salespeople to create winning playbooks.
- Identify the practices your top sellers use.
- Turn these practices into clear and structured best practices your sales team can follow.
- Create clear and accessible playbooks based on these best practices.
- Implement the playbooks by training your sales team.
This is a highly effective sales enablement best practice because it allows sellers of every skill level to use winning plays and ensures consistency across the team.
The right sales enablement software can help make this process much more effective by allowing you to easily turn your most successful demo scripts into demo playbooks accessible to all.
With good enablement software, you can turn training into actions sellers can use in real-time, and as your sales reps share the best playbooks with the team, you can see how they are being used in real-time and even log insights and info after each live demo.
So basically, the right tool practically turns playbooks into sales training playbooks so that training can be constant and continuous, meaning your sellers will keep learning and getting better.
“Things are moving so quickly in sales cycles and business in the world that you literally have to be short, punchy, and to the point. People listen, but they don't remember. ‘Okay, I can remember one part and the other, but the middle that really may or may not has worked for me I just don't remember because there's just so much information thrown at me. And that's really where Demoleap helps us really compound and attack these prospects with the right ammunition at the right time.”
Matt Meghory - VP of Sales at SysAid
How to improve your existing sales playbooks
In sales, you need to always evolve, grow and adjust, and this includes your playbooks. Here’s how you can continuously improve your processes.
Make sure it’s accessible to all
When all the relevant teams have access to your playbook - including marketing, sales, and enablement teams - it increases the likelihood it will be properly implemented.
Naturally, a good digital playbook makes it easy to audit resources, update content, track sales reps’ performance and easily make changes and adjustments.
Monitor playbook performance
Once your playbook is used by the various teams, monitor its efficiency and relevance by referring to the goals you set. Are these the outcomes you expected? Are there specific areas that are underperforming? Do you identify any obstructions?
Since this is a continuous task, it’s best to work with sales enablement software that allows you to measure and monitor performance in real time, identify what needs changing and make changes easily and quickly.
Your sellers are the ones out there in the field, using your playbook and talking to buyers, so it only makes sense to ask them to help you understand what’s working and what’s not.
Ask your sellers for feedback. Can they easily find the content they need in real-time? Is the content relevant and current? Is there anything they’re missing?
“We are moving from static learning resources and documents to real-time playbooks that support training and live sales execution. I see Demoleap helping us reduce ramp time with new hires gaining confidence fast and experienced sellers adapting to change more quickly. When we certify reps on Maxio, we hear some great pitches; now, we can quickly share with the team through Demoleap. Demoleap allows us to implement what the best reps are doing across the team in a way we could not before. “
“If we have an idea, we can open a Demoleap playbook right now, hit save, and everybody has access to that new insight immediately. Not in a video or static document that busy reps may never see. I've never experienced updating our process, talk track, click paths, and Demo slides so seamlessly, and now I measure demo activities directly from Salesforce. “
Will Ibsen, VP of Sales at Maxio.
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