I’ve seen, and even created, some very bad playbooks. And some pretty bad playbooks. And some not-so-terrible playbooks. And a handful of good playbooks (to be honest, the good ones are rare—most playbooks are just flat out awful). Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons….
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Creating a sales playbook is a big undertaking. And once you have it launched, it doesn’t guarantee adoption. And it needs to be updated very regularly. And reviewed for accuracy. It’s just a lot of freaking work to get the ball rolling and keep it in motion. But it’s so worth it. Once we had our playbook in an ideal state I found we referenced it all the time, used it as a jumping off point for many coaching sessions, used it to onboard and ramp reps faster, developed educational workshops for the team from it, etc.
This isn’t about your CRM, or your marketing automation platform, or your auto-dialer, or your…anything. You may have those things, and you may not. Don’t worry about that stuff. It will all work itself out later. If you put those things before selling, you will distract yourself from what is most important: actually selling and getting your first customers.
Think it’s not important to define your sales culture? Think again. Culture shapes how people work together and independently, reinforces norms of behaviors and sets expectations. Left unchecked, it may not help you attain your goals.
When the ratios are off…for example too many salespeople for available marketing spend; or too many marketing team members for the available spend and lead requirements; the whole program is destined to fail. There’s no way to bring in a reasonable CAC because sales will never have enough leads to work and marketing wages will be far too high per lead to make fully loaded CPL business-reasonable.
Despite how cliche it is, I love to ask sales candidates to “sell me this pen” during the first interview. I can learn more about a candidate with this request than with any other question. As sales leaders, we need to consider increasing our situational questions like this one during interviews to help find the best candidates and avoid the wrong hires.
Why is setting the right buyer expectations so important? Because this is what leads to customers who accelerate themselves through onboarding, adopt your product and renew when it comes time. Buyers who know what to expect are far more likely to be retained than those who don’t. Prepared customers are the best customers.
SaaS customer retention is everything. Everything. If you are bootstrapping or running lean, it’s the only way to have a healthy, profitable company. And if you are raising money or want to be acquired, it’s the basis for the entire valuation of your company. While customer retention takes a village, sales is the most on the front line of selling to the right customers and side stepping the wrong ones.
Without a clear definition of what types of customers and contracts are most likely to be retained, it’s hard to avoid the wrong ones. Sales leadership needs to document, and educate the sales team constantly on these four things.
Everything starts with a sale, and the sales team needs rewards for their hard work. Squeeze budget from every nook and cranny to come up with motivating, useful incentives. But just don’t break the bank.