Sales leaders are increasingly under pressure to sell more efficiently and drive revenue growth. At the same time, they have to contend with shrinking budgets and tougher KPIs. As a result, enterprise sales teams have had to change how they operate to meet their goals, and one of the key catalysts of that change has been the introduction of SalesOps to help drive revenue growth and sales productivity.
The savviest sales teams understand that sales operations are becoming increasingly crucial to their success - but without a well-crafted sales playbook to guide them, they may end up performing below par. This post will provide critical insights into what you need to include in a SalesOps playbook. But first:
What is SalesOps, and why is it crucial to enterprise sales?
Enterprising selling has become increasingly complicated. Sales teams now need to grapple with more tasks in each phase of the buying cycle from digital prospecting and nurturing to structuring complex deals and driving customer retention.
SalesOps describes the business activities that enable and support sales teams to sell faster, better, and more. A strategic sales operations playbook helps align every member of the organization on what to do, when, and how.
By providing a framework for all sales activities, a sales operations playbook can improve your sales process, align your team, reduce inefficiencies, and improve the customer experience. This is because creating a clear roadmap for your enterprise selling team requires you to define your sales process’s building blocks. As you do this, you’ll spot inefficiencies in your prospecting, engagement, or deal closing strategies that you can improve. These improvements translate to faster deals, happier customers, higher usage, and less churn.
Building a SalesOps playbook: 9 key elements to include
Crafting your SalesOps playbook requires a solid understanding of your sales organization’s activities. The following 9 elements are essential to a well-thought-out playbook:
- Team structure and roles
- Metrics and KPIs
- Ideal customer profile(s)
- Products and pricing
- Sales process flow
- CRM processes
- Reporting and analytics
Let’s explore each one in turn.
1. Team structure and roles
Your playbook should clearly define the respective tasks of each member of your sales operations team. For example, a sales operations analyst might be responsible for analyzing sales data and finding new monetization opportunities. A sales operations specialist could manage presales activities such as opportunity tracking and contract management, while a sales operation leader or manager would be responsible for setting the team’s overall sales strategy. Having this clarity aligns everyone on your team and ensures no redundancy or overlap between roles.
2. Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
Every organization works towards certain key performance indicators, whether that’s top-line revenue growth, increased product sales, or an improved brand presence. Metrics are the data points that indicate a firm’s performance towards those KPIs. For example, a KPI could be “a 15% increase in YoY profits”, while a metric tracking that could be “number of new signups” or “number of renewed subscriptions.”
You might include the following KPIs and metrics into your SalesOps playbook:
- Lower customer acquisition costs (CAC): CAC defines how much it costs to acquire a new customer. The lower, the better - although sometimes you may need to spend more to acquire more lucrative customers. You can achieve this through better ad targeting on paid channels and investing in marketing content to drive long-term brand awareness.
- Higher open and click-through rates: Your open rate is the ratio of customers who open your emails, while the click-through rate measures how many email readers are clicking through to your landing pages. You can raise both of these by writing more compelling emails, A/B testing different headlines, and reducing the number of CTAs in each email to drive more clicks to the most pertinent ones.
- Lower churn rate: Churn is the percentage of customers who cancel their subscription within a specified period. Your goal is to reduce this number as much as possible, which you can accomplish by aligning your product’s deployment to each specific customer’s needs, improving your onboarding process, and responding to support tickets as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
- Higher customer lifetime value (CLTV) / Average revenue per user (ARPU): Both these metrics reflect forecasted customer revenues throughout their contract. The higher the CLTV, the more money you can afford to spend to acquire that customer. You can raise CLTV/ARPU by upselling existing customers, driving contract extensions through promotions and feature add-ons, and targeting larger customers.
There are many more KPIs that you can include in your sales playbook. If you’re a SaaS business, see our post on 5 important SaaS metrics to track.
3. Ideal customer profile(s)
As you map out your sales process, identify the type of customers you want to work with. Do you want industry leaders or challenger brands? Are you looking for enterprise customers or small startups? Do they need to have a specific set of problems or be hitting a certain ARR figure?
All of this information forms part of your ‘ideal customer profile,’ a snapshot of the kind of customer you want to work with. Once you’ve determined your ideal customer profile, you can begin relevant sales and marketing initiatives to reach them.
4. Products and pricing
Every salesperson on your team needs to understand your product(s) and pricing inside-out. This gives them the confidence to sell better-aligned solutions to your ideal customers.
The products and pricing section of your playbook should include the following subsections:
- Products offered: What products or services do you offer, and which ones are a priority for the company right now? This helps your reps focus on the highest revenue drivers in your portfolio.
- Key product differentiators: What makes your solution unique in the market? How will your customer benefit from buying from you over a competitor? Knowing this information gives your reps the ammo to survive any rounds of objections from customers.
- Pricing and payment methods: Knowing your prices and payment methods helps your reps align your packages to the budgets of different customers. They can confidently offer discounts and promotional deals that are still profitable while sweetening the deal for customers on the fence.
Messaging is the choice of words and tone you use to communicate your value proposition throughout the buying process. Nailing your messaging is critical in enterprise sales because no matter your customer acquisition strategy, you won’t succeed if people don’t understand why they need your product or service in the first place.
Below are some key elements to include in the messaging section of your sales ops playbook:
- How your solution solves your customer’s problem: Your customers have defined pain points, and your product takes away those pains. To do that, you need messaging that puts that pain center-stage. Don’t be shy about describing the pain your customers are experiencing (and how you’re going to relieve it) and why the problem exists in the first place (e.g., because of inefficient processes or lack of information).
- How your solution is differentiated: Your product seldom exists in a vacuum. At any given time, you are up against competitors who may have a better product with more features or lower pricing. Your messaging should address what makes your solution different from all the others on the market and why they should buy from you.
- How your solution is easy to adopt or use: Where applicable, your sales reps should highlight how easy it is for the customer to start using your product in no time and with little effort.
- How others benefit from working with you: By talking about how previous customers have benefited from your solutions, your sales reps will be able to inspire trust, respect, and confidence in new prospects.
- Expected ROI: Your customers want to know how much value you’re offering them for their money - and the better your reps can articulate this, the more deals you’ll close. You’ll need a method for predicting this value (e.g., 37% increased sales over 12 months, or a shortened hiring cycle from 5 to just 2 weeks), and you can source this information by interviewing previous customers.
6. Sales process flow
Your sales operations playbook should also outline all the activities or key milestones your sales team goes through in each buying cycle stage from lead generation and qualification to closing prospects and structuring deals. A typical sales process flow might go something like this:
Lead Generation: Finding potential customers to reach out to and engage with. You can acquire leads from a variety of sources, whether owned (e.g., your social media accounts), earned (e.g., PR), or paid (e.g., lead generation services).
Lead Qualification: The stage where your sales team decides if a prospect is a good fit for your product, based on your pre-defined criteria like company size, revenue, geographic location, etc.
Lead Engagement: This encompasses all activities related to outreach, customer education, and product demos.
Offer: At this stage, a prospect has shown interest in your product, and you’ve made them an offer based on their needs.
Deal structuring: After the customer has accepted your offer, your team hashes out the details of the offer (like payment plans, implementation timelines, etc.) with other key stakeholders within your company - usually in a deal desk set-up, like below:
Customer success: After the deal is finalized, your priority shifts to helping the customer use your product successfully.
7. CRM processes
It’s essential to have a defined process for adding, updating, and engaging with your CRM prospects. The CRM section of your sales playbook should outline all the standard actions sales reps should take for each stage of the sales process, including:
- Lead input: The more information you have about a lead, the easier it’ll be to tailor your sales approach to their needs.
- Lead qualification and scoring: How will your organization determine which leads to pursue? Lead scoring assigns each client a score (e.g. between 0-100) based on their fit for your product.
- Lead nurturing and engagement: Depending on the CRM you use, you can set up automated lead engagement campaigns to reach your most likely buyers. The best CRMs offer templates to work with and workflows to track open and reply rates for each lead in your nurture campaigns. Check out our blog on choosing a CRM to learn more.
8. Reporting and analytics
Reporting gives your sales operations team insight into what’s working and what could be improved and directly contributes to meeting and beating KPIs. You can collect data from a variety of sources, such as:
- Your CRM: Your CRM gives you access to information on deals and activities across your entire sales funnel. This helps you measure your return on investment on lead generation activities, track sales rep productivity, and figure out what kinds of offers are working best.
- Web analytics: Tools like Google Analytics let you know what’s happening with your website traffic. Are people visiting the landing page after Sales has contacted them? Are they downloading resources and filling out contact forms afterward? This data can help measure your efforts across different online channels.
- Email analytics: How often is your sales team sending out emails to the prospects in your database? How many recipients are opening the emails or clicking the links within? This data can help you figure out which of your messaging elements work best and what types of headlines and content structure might increase sales.
Process is crucial, but so are the tools you use to execute on it. Your sales operations playbook should have a section on the tools you use so that all new and existing members know where to start in the sales process. For example, you might specify the following tools in your tech stack:
- CRM: Salesforce to help you store, track, and engage with your leads.
- Deal desk/deal room setup: Momentum to sync data quickly between Salesforce and Slack, giving you all the info you need to stricture a deal.
- Web analytics: Google Analytics to measure the performance of your website in real-time.
- Email marketing: Mailchimp to set up and run highly targeted email campaigns at scale.
- Webinars: Zoom to set up and host webinars for hundreds of people.
Tips for maintaining your SalesOps playbook
While crafting your SalesOps playbook is an excellent first step, there are certain things you can do to get the most use out of it. These include the following:
- Train your sales operations team on the playbook: Sales training ensures that your team understands every aspect of your sales strategy thoroughly.
- Update it regularly: It’s easy to think of your playbook as “finished” once you’ve written it, but the nature of B2B sales today is changing rapidly, and companies need to update how they sell to other companies. Your sales operations playbook should be updated often with input from all members of the sales organization.
- Make it accessible: Ensure that every new and existing salesperson can access the manual whenever they need it. Keep the latest version of it accessible to them on their laptops, online drives, and email inboxes, and upload a copy of it to any sales enablement content platform of your choice.
- Incentivize adoption: If you’ve created a manual that will help your sales reps close more deals, encourage them to check out new strategies for whatever sales stage they’re in and reward them when they take steps toward improving their game.
Craft a strategic sales operations playbook
SalesOps is challenging to get right but essential to successful revenue growth. Without a playbook, your sales process will be chaotic and ineffective. A playbook maps out your sales process from start to finish and aligns everyone on your team towards a shared goal: more revenue.