Playbooks have earned their way as a top contender in the world of campaigns, packing a punch when used correctly.
What is a sales playbook?
Before you get started, read our guide to the difference between journeys and playbooks if you're not sure which one you need, then come back to see how playbooks can be used at each stage of the sales cycle.
The sales cycle will differ from company to company. However, the core concept and end goal is to sell your product to new or existing customers and retain them. The sales cycle below will be based on a SaaS sales model which are typically subscription-based solutions as they bring in recurring revenue. That being said the examples provided can inspire those in a B2C or ecomm industry.
Each stage listed below will highlight an overall goal, and an example playbook that will help nudge your customer into taking the desired action.
You may know this stage better as lead generation. Attracting leads into your sales cycle can occur either actively or passively. Now depending on how your company is set up, you may be more skewed to use one over the other, or a mixture of both.
Active prospecting is all about going out and finding leads. You’re likely to have a dedicated sales team who are searching for ideal prospects and taking the first step to reach out to them, usually via phone or email.
Passive prospecting is designed for product-led setups where leads are attracted through the use of content marketing, webinars, ebooks, forms, SEO, word of mouth, or any other means of nudging the prospect to partake in a product demo or free trial.
Both options can work well with a playbook set up, however the active prospecting choice will naturally require more administration work (especially if you’re using the phone to make cold calls) whereas passive can be easily automated in a playbook.
Prospect stage playbook - lead nurture
This playbook can come into motion once your visitor becomes a lead, meaning they have filled out a form, subscribed to your newsletter, signed up to a webinar.
Once they have entered the sales cycle at the top of the funnel, they automatically join the lead nurture playbook where a series of emails will be sent that highlight the unique selling factors of your brand, how your brand will solve their problem and what differentiates your product from its competitors.
As you can see in the above, the journey starts off with a ‘convert people who show interest’ email - this acts as a great introductory email to introduce yourself plus find out more about what the lead is looking for in a product.
2. Qualify leads
All leads are not equal. There are some who are ready to convert or actively looking for a solution to their problem, these are your A+ leads, then there are your second tier leads that not necessary looking at converting straight way but could be in the future, or even just the leads who clicked on something then knew your product wasn’t for them.
There are also some leads that are more valuable than others, because they are large businesses, check every box in your ideal customer profiles, or would be a great case study to then bring in other businesses.
The goal in this step is to work out who you want to focus the majority of your attention to, and those who require less attention, or none at all.
Qualifying leads can all be automated within Ortto. When leads take specific qualifying actions like open email, click on the CTA, or have a website session - they can be tagged accordingly. Say your lead did all three actions above; they can be tagged as a ‘tier one lead’ and added to the appropriate playbook.
Another way to qualify leads in Ortto is using customer engagement scoring. SaaS companies with a product-led sales function can set up custom activities for any product-qualifying actions, and weight these highly in their customer engagement score algorithm. Once this is set up, identifying highly-qualified leads will just be a matter of filtering for free trial or freemium users with an engagement score of 4 or 5 stars. You can take this one step further and use additional filters like industry or company size to identify high-value leads and route these directly to your sales team.
Qualify lead playbook
This will be an addition to the lead nurture playbook mentioned above, where you are prompting the lead to convert or sign up for the free trial or freemium option.
Similar to journeys we will add in behavior triggers to the playbook, so once a lead has taken a desired action they will exit the playbook. For example, one of your tier one leads has entered the lead nurture playbook, after the first email they signed up to the free trial. They then exit from the playbook.
To see this in action within another sales stage, Mike Sharkey (CEO and Co-Founder of Ortto) shares this nudge playbook strategy within an onboarding workflow. Watch the whole thing below or head straight to 4.50 - 11.50.
If the lead makes it through the entire playbook without taking an action, then they can be moved into a less aggressive lead nurture playbook, where the email cadence may be further apart or the content type is changed.
This playbook with the use of behavioral triggers will save your sales team time in sorting through leads, and allow them to hone in on those leads that are far more likely to convert.
3. Present your product
This is your time to shine. Your lead has taken the next step to experience the product. Within the world of SaaS, free trials or freemium options are the most common approach when presenting your product. Setting up product demos run by your sales or customer success team is another great way to show off your product, especially if your lead is looking for a more guided introduction or needs a customized plan.
Regardless of the option chosen, the goal here is to have your lead go from trial to conversion as quickly as possible. Your playbook will help them get there.
Product playbook - Onboard new trials
This playbook is already waiting for you as a template in Ortto. It's designed to help onboard your lead, so they can see the value of your product faster, increasing the likelihood of conversion
Start by knowing which actions taken in the onboarding phase are more likely to result in conversion. For example, Asana may discover the value of the product is realized and conversion is more likely if someone on a free trial assigns a task and invites a team member. From taking these actions the trialist is more likely to continue as a customer once the trial period is over.
Once you know these actions, then it's all about organizing your emails in priority (from top to bottom). In the template, shown below you can see that the order is:
Register for a demo
Key value step reminder
How to create your first widget
This company knows that if a new trial subscriber organizes a time for a free demo, then it is far more likely to win them as a customer. Keep in mind this is a template, so more or less emails can be used. When starting out with playbooks it's important to keep a close eye on your metrics, and fine tune anything that isn’t working. These customers on a free trial are close to converting so now is the time to be there for them as a brand.
4. Address objections
Once the trial period comes to an end, it’s time to check in with your lead. Whether they have become a paying customer or not, your prospect's feedback will be worth its weight in gold, the good and bad.
If your prospect has signed up during the trial then they will be sent through to a welcome series playbook, which we recommend asking about their experience in one of the first emails. It’s a great way to strengthen your customer relationship as well as fine tune your sales process up until now - see if they have experienced any barriers or friction points that you can weed out for the next lead.
If they haven’t subscribed during their trial, then don't give up, they may just not be ready yet. Now is the time to whip out this winning playbook to send them useful content and build a relationship so you stay top of mind.
Present your product playbook - Post trial nurture
This playbook is designed to keep that door to a potential customer slightly ajar. They may not have signed up post-trial for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with their experience with your brand or product - like budget restraints or they ran out of time to log in.
The post-trial nurture playbook is set up as a template in your Ortto account, giving you a great starting point to build your own playbook from.
Your leads enter the playbook once the trial has expired and receive an email with a final attempt to pull them over the line and convert. This can also be a great opportunity to ask why they didn’t convert.
From there it's all about creating emails that will not only keep you top of mind, but also drive your USP’s, share customer reviews and the release of new features relevant to the customers.
As this is a nurture playbook, you can see within the set up that these emails are set at a cadence of 14 days apart. As these potential customers didn’t sign up from the trial it's important to not bombard them with emails as that is a fast one-way ticket to an unsubscriber.
5. Closed the deal
While this is a great milestone in the sales cycle, it’s hardly the last step in the SaaS journey. In fact it can be deemed as just the beginning. You now need to welcome them, provide further onboarding, retain them and set up the eventual upsell.
Closed the deal playbook - Thank you customer
It’s aptly named ‘thank you new customer’ in your Ortto templates, and this playbook is quite simple. Once your prospect has signed up to a plan, they are automatically added into this playbook to welcome them to your product.
Use this opportunity to explain what their plan allows access to now, linking to documentation or further resources on how to use it. Other messaging opportunities include further onboarding prompts they may need to do, and also check in with how their experience has been so far. If you have community forums, or social channels that have a strong community, invite them to join. This will be a great resource for your new customer to ask questions and talk to others who have gone through the onboarding process.
This stage is all about customer retention. Focus on providing excellent customer support and further product training, for example how-to videos, ebooks, or product certification courses. Look for assets that your customer will find helpful and nudge them towards using more features to cement the value of your product.
If playbooks were designed for one specific stage of the sales cycle then this is it. Nurture playbooks are intended to be sent at a regular cadence in order to keep your audience engaged.
One of the best features of playbooks is the ability to keep adding messages in. It will continue to roll through when customers or leads qualify to enter, so you can keep your customers updated with any new content you publish.
The types of messages you can include in your nurture playbook can be:
Access to further product training
Feature releases, with additional how-to videos
Asking for feedback, reviews or referrals
Cross- or upsell to existing customers
Address common challenges
This article has provided you with the building blocks needed to create playbooks and customize them to drive conversions and nurture your leads and customers. Your next step is to bring these playbooks to life in your own Ortto account.
Ortto’s integration with HubSpot will give you the ability to sync data from your CRM to create hyper-personalized customer journeys and report on performance.
“We were looking for a solution that was really easy to use, didn’t require a tech team, and would have a robust integration with Salesforce so we could trigger sales communications in a smarter way. Nobody else out there has what Ortto has.”