Greg Karelitz, Global Manager, HubSpot for Startups, shares insights on developing an effective sales playbook for your team. He discusses what should go in it, how to start building one, what templates to include, and more.
What tools & systems would you use to organize & update a sales playbook?
The best things to include in a sales playbook? I think it first starts out understanding your own business model—there’s a couple ways to look at that. One, is the value of your product really inexpensive and usually frictionless for people to acquire? Or is it usually involved and you need humans to actually help customers better understand the value of your products that you guys are trying to help them with?
Taking a look at that, if it’s on the low-touch end, it might be a really good way to think about how to do more inbound, meaning pull people in through content creation, guide them through maybe an e-commerce process and a nice check-out, or maybe even a freemium model as well, where you can have people download a part of your product for a very inexpensive or even free, and then as they get value, you can hopefully upgrade them throughout the process.
If you have a more involved sales process with a higher value of a client, it might incorporate a salesperson, which usually results in how do you prospect people, how do you find the right people to communicate with, and this is your target persona. And then from there once you are in communication with them, usually digging into four key components, which is goals, plans, challenges and timeline. And if you get all four of those, you can usually understand how your products, service, or good can fit into their own pain, if they have one, as a solution to help them do whatever they need to do a little bit more effectively.
How would you start building a sales playbook? Why build your own?
Companies can usually get started building a sales playbook by first actually looking at their customers. And if you don’t have customers yet that’s totally okay. The first place to start is identifying your buyer persona. This is actually building a really tight and fictitious representation of who your ideal customer is, and then think about from their perspective what steps they take in their own buyer journey.
For example, if we’re a software company and we’re trying to attract maybe marketing and sales folks, just using this as our example, people might be going online and searching in Google for things like, “How do I make my website generate leads better?” You have to first match the way that they’re shopping with the content and help that you can give them in a really human way.
Try to lay out every stage of the buyer journey, and then think about where your sales process can actually jump in. How are people finding you? What are you doing to convert those people? Do you need a human to actually reach out to guide them through the process? Usually you can plug in your sales gaps only after you understand the actual buyer journey, which also starts with who the heck is going to be buying your product, service or good.
What kind of templates would you include?
If I was a salesperson, sales manager, or even a person running a company with a sales team, the things that I would include are a CRM system to begin with. There are many out there, some free, some more premium. HubSpot has a free CRM for every company if they want to use it. And what I would do is use that sales process and clearly define the stages in which you want to guide people through the buying journey.
If you have the technology, it gives you an opportunity to actually measure where you might have drop-off, which then gives you an opportunity to fill the gaps with things like email templates, with things like checklists, to bring in sales trainers to actually help your team grow better. It usually starts with the technology, which is then coupled with a processing system, where if you don’t have a processing system but have a technology, it’s probably going to do no good.
Things like emails and templates, there’s a rule of thumb that we call the “F email,” where you usually have three parts to an email. The first one is a quick opener where you add value: “Hi my name is Greg, I’m reaching out because of X, Y and Z.” The second piece is usually social proof: “We work with companies like you and help them do this.” And the third is a call to action, this is the bottom part of the F, which is: “Would you like to set up a time to discuss how we can help you like we do people in your space?”
Emails like that usually go a really long way. LinkedIn outreaches and even phone calls in that same fashion are usually where salespeople can get the most leverage in a sales playbook.
Would you build a different playbook for each function in a sales team?
Today there are a lot of people inside of a sales organization. There are BDRs, there’s account executives, there’s managers, there’s sales engineers. Each person has a very specific role on the team. To take that into account, each person should have a very different role than the next. For example, if you’re a business development representative, usually you work with a couple different account executives—your job is to book meetings with high-quality and potential customers that are good fits.
The playbook for that should be really simple. Let’s try to identify great fit potential businesses and get them on calendar invites with our potential account executives.
The account executive is a really difficult job. They get to play the quarterback role, where this person actually gets to work with the BDR, try to give them the insight that they need in order to pick the right companies to prospect. They also have to tell their sales engineers what they’re finding on discovery calls with their prospects, where the sales engineer can add value. And then report up to the manager, whose job is really to make sure that they’re guiding, coaching and giving the right feedback and advice to their whole team to get everybody on a productive level.
If there is no definition of role, it’s going to be really hard to grow and scale. So, before ever thinking about growing and scaling your team, to highly define each role inside of your sales organization will set you up for success.
How could you use a playbook to identify high priority gaps & challenges?
The sales function to help identify key gaps that the business might be having is critical. The salespeople are on the front lines—usually the ones who are most interacting with the prospects and customers to actually understand the pains and challenges they’re facing. If there’s a gap of not taking that information from the sales folks to go to product, services, marketing, so on and so forth, the business might be at a standstill.
I would have all of these organizations actually combined together. At HubSpot we call it “sparketing:” sales, product and marketing. We actually all really tightly align to make sure our sales folks are giving the product and marketing teams the ammo they need in order to best educate and build the right tools. Marketing learns from sales and product what they can do to best s educate the potential prospects at scale. And product learns from marketing and sales to listen to what the heck prospects are asking for so they can prioritize where they should be spending their time building the right products, services or goods.
It’s really important to have deep alignment across all three or more of those organizations to make sure that your business is being set up as best as it can for acquiring and retaining customers.
For scaling companies, what mix of tools work best for sales & account development?
The tools that are needed in order to scale a sales organization or even a business, for that matter? Just a quick stat, I think now software companies are on average are using about 15 different software tools. What’s kind of crazy is to think about adding another software to the mix that’s supposed to make you be more efficient might actually be making you less efficient. What I would encourage businesses to think about is, “What are the tools that you need?” Every business should have a CRM. Every business obviously needs a website. I would even encourage all businesses to think about how to do email marketing, and maybe even start exploring marketing automation that will tap into their sales, marketing and buyer journey process.
Things that we use over at HubSpot, we use HubSpot. For project management, we use a tool called Trello. There’s awesome heat-tracking tools where people click and maybe scroll on your website, like tools called Hotjar. There’s live chat tools that we’ve also built ourself, where you can actually just talk to different prospects and customers as they’re coming by your website.
As you think about your technology stack for sales and marketing, it’s really important to plug in the gaps. Whether or not you have a super high budget or no budget at all, you should continue to look and evaluate the tools you need at the time you need it.
This video is part of the Masters of Sales series. The series includes four modules: