Just a couple of years ago, revenue operations (RevOps) was a pretty niche term, but since early 2020 it’s seen a surge in interest:
Because it’s fast becoming a critical element of many organizations’ success stories.
Research from Forrester Consulting discovered that 32% of organizations have a role in which one person has ultimate responsibility for revenue growth across all channels.
Within the next two years, that proportion is expected to almost triple to 89%.
It’s easy to see why, with the same study discovering that organizations with high-maturity RevOps teams can expect to see their revenue increase by 10% over five years:
However, those gains don’t just happen by chance.
To enjoy the full benefits of building a revenue operations function, you must create and implement a RevOps playbook.
In this article, we’re going to explain how to get it right.
But first, let’s start with the basics…
What is a playbook?
A playbook is a single source of truth that incorporates all the essential information required to conduct essential business tasks or functions effectively and consistently.
Before the business world adopted the term, it was most commonly used in a sporting context, referring to a document or folder containing a football team’s “plays” (or strategies) and how they should be executed.
A business playbook is less likely to explain where your tight end should stand or your wide receivers should run to, and more likely to include information about…
- Objectives and KPIs
- Chains of command
- Cultural values
…and much more besides.
By bringing all that important stuff together in one place, a playbook gives all stakeholders a clear view of what’s going on and how their actions contribute to success.
It makes collaboration easier by setting out the shared vision behind a project, campaign, or business function.
That makes playbooks particularly useful in the world of revenue operations, which ties together colleagues across multiple business units — namely:
- Customer success
Why create a RevOps playbook?
The main benefit of creating a RevOps playbook is to ensure consistency around the revenue-generating functions within your business.
Consistent — that is, consistently good — customer interactions are key to delivering a superb customer experience, which is a powerful differentiator for brands. Indeed, two in three marketers with responsibility for CX say their companies primarily compete based on customer experience, while 96% of customers say experience plays a crucial role in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
But that’s not the sole benefit.
Developing your own RevOps playbook helps onboarding new colleagues to your sales, marketing, and customer success teams, helping them understand their purpose and their role in hitting your business objectives.
And it also provides a platform for sharing best practices with existing team members, ensuring that everyone knows what’s expected of them when new “plays” are developed.
9 key elements of a RevOps playbook
If like me, you know nothing about American football, you’d be forgiven for thinking a sporting playbook is just a bunch of diagrams telling players what to do at any given time.
Turns out there’s a lot more to it than that.
Football playbooks are typically well over 100 pages in length, with the 1996 Oklahoma State Cowboys playbook clocking in at a mammoth 480 pages.
You have to get through the first 10% before finding anything related to sporting tactics.
So the average football playbook contains a vast range of information, including:
- Team policies
- Mission statement
- Roles and responsibilities
- Culture and values
- Captain’s duties
For instance, here’s a graphic setting out Alabama Crimson Tide’s mission and vision for the 2008 season:
That’s a powerful message that gives players a clear sense of purpose. Which must make a big difference when preseason comes around and they have to spend hour after grueling hour doing shuttle runs and jumping jacks.
A RevOps playbook is really no different.
Sure, it contains plenty of information about the specific roles and responsibilities of your revenue operations function.
But it also sets out everything from the reason your RevOps team exists to the “story” behind your business.
With that in mind, let’s dig into nine key elements to add to your revenue operations playbook:
1. Overview of your RevOps function
The starting point for your RevOps playbook is a brief overview that sets out:
- The challenges your RevOps function hopes to address. For instance, this could be about fixing a lack of alignment between sales, marketing, and customer success.
- Key stakeholders within your revenue-generating operation. This will include members of your RevOps team and stakeholders in other business functions.
- The results you expect to deliver. For instance, forging closer alignment between revenue teams and delivering increased revenue generation.
Some organizations also use the overview section to explain the team’s purpose more granularly. For instance, they might discuss the problems created by a siloed approach across revenue-generating teams and how these issues hold the business back.
And they may also briefly detail the revenue operations metrics against which the team’s success will be measured.
Essentially, think of the overview as a short but value-packed introduction to the world of RevOps and how you plan to leverage it within your organization.
2. Essential company information
Next, you’ll want to provide details about who you are and what you do in the context of your revenue-generating operations.
This is an important step because team members might need to discuss specific aspects of your organization and product in any customer interaction. This section ensures those discussions happen consistently.
As an extension of this, you should also set out your value proposition — the specific reasons why your company and product would be attractive to your target audience. In doing this, you might also reference your company’s:
- Founding story
- Mission statement
- Company values
- Brand identity
3. Your target audience
Revenue operations align your sales, marketing, and customer success strategies across the full customer life cycle.
So it makes sense to spell out who those customers are. What types of organizations do they work for? What jobs do they do? What are the pain points that keep them up at night?
Essentially, this section is about describing your ideal customer profile or audience personas, incorporating things like:
- Demographic information
- Business goals
If you already cover all that stuff in separate documents, feel free to keep this section brief and add links to the information.
4. List of products & services
Revenue operations teams are responsible for growing revenue across all channels and functions.
And growing revenue means selling more, or higher-priced, products.
So it makes sense to include a list of those products (or services) in your RevOps playbook.
Unless you only deal with one specific audience, you’ll also want to provide some context for those products.
For instance, at Encharge, we sell to a range of customers, including SaaS brands, agencies, and content creators. Those audiences have different needs and priorities, so our RevOps playbook sets out how we help each audience achieve their goals.
Beyond describing the various use cases of your product(s), you should also set out estimated pricing and the quantifiable value you provide.
Will you save customers time and money? Deliver measurable return on investment?
Spelling this stuff out ensures your revenue-generating colleagues — and particularly your sales and marketing teams — are singing from the same hymn sheet.
5. List of content assets
Chances are, you have a bunch of assets relevant to various stages of the customer lifecycle. They might be:
- Video explainers
- Case studies and testimonials
- How-to guides
- Product catalogs
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Marketing brochures
- Blog posts
So wouldn’t it make sense to link to all those useful resources in your RevOps playbook?
As well as a simple list of hyperlinks, you should group your assets together for ease of navigation. You could split them out by sales funnel stage, content type, pain point, customer persona, or any number of other ways.
There’s no right or wrong approach here; it’s all about making it as simple as possible for your sales, marketing, and customer success teams to find content that helps them generate more revenue. So do whatever makes most sense for your business.
6. RevOps roles, responsibilities & skills
If your revenue-generating teams are going to work together effectively, they need to understand how their roles fit into the broader structure of your RevOps function.
Beyond listing each role, you’ll want to define exactly what each person does, and the types of tasks for which they’re accountable. That way, everyone understands who they need to speak to about any given action or project.
You might also need to detail any specific arrangements in relation to certain tasks. For instance, if you rely on an external agency or a network of freelancers to handle content creation tasks, it’s worth explaining that here.
8. Standardized processes & workflows
This is the part of the RevOps playbook that explains how everything works.
How do you generate and qualify leads? When does responsibility for an account pass from marketing to sales to customer success? Who decides whether a new customer should be targeted with an upsell or cross-sell?
The more clarity you can provide at this stage, the more consistency you’ll build across your revenue-generating functions.
Ambiguity causes confusion.
And confusion causes unnecessary steps to be added to standard workflows or key actions missed.
At the same time, don’t feel the need to duplicate information already available elsewhere. Rather than going in-depth on every process and workflow in your RevOps playbook, provide top-level detail and link out to separate documents providing a more detailed explanation.
9. RevOps success metrics
By its very nature, revenue operations is obsessed with numbers.
If you don’t have enough data (or the right type of data), it becomes impossible to make smart decisions.
And it also gives you no way to understand whether your actions are having the desired effect.
That’s why RevOps metrics are so important.
The metrics you track should help you build a clear picture of success throughout the customer lifecycle, covering everything from the cost of acquiring a new account to the rate of renewals, upsells, and cross-sells.
Give some detail around these metrics in this section of your RevOps playbook, link to any dashboards that track your results, and — where necessary — add context to explain what each metric measures and why it matters.
10. Tone of voice guidelines
If sales, marketing, and customer success are going to work together harmoniously, it’s vital that they communicate in the same way, using the same tone.
You don’t want one team speaking like they’re a customer’s best friend and another being cold and professional.
It seems jarring and spoils the customer experience.
If you’ve already developed a style guide or brand bible, it’s fine to offer a brief summary here, with links to any supplementary documents.
If not, don’t sweat it. You don’t need to create a full style guide from scratch. Just jot down some initial details and expand on it over time.
Start by listing a handful of characteristics. Do you want to be chatty? Supportive? Funny? Strictly business?
Where possible, try to flesh this out with a few practical examples of things you would and wouldn’t say.
3 best practices for building a RevOps playbook
Building a RevOps playbook isn’t a one-and-done exercise.
If it’s going to be worth the paper it’s printed on (or the pixels it’s displayed on), you need to keep it relevant and make it as user-friendly as possible.
Get it right by following these RevOps best practices:
Regularly review & optimize your RevOps playbook
New tasks, strategies, and workflows are naturally going to emerge over time as your RevOps function gathers data and identifies ways to optimize your revenue-related strategies.
All of that extra detail needs to be added to your RevOps playbook.
As such, you should treat it as a living document. Ideally, it’ll be in an easily editable and shareable format (like a Google Doc), so you’re not left with multiple outdated versions saved to people’s hard drives.
Assign a “playbook champion”
Okay, so we’re clear that your RevOps playbook will need regular TLC to keep it relevant and useful.
But if you don’t stipulate who’s responsible for keeping your playbook up to date, chances are it won’t get done. And even if it is, it might not be done consistently (or well).
For that reason, it makes sense to task a “playbook champion” with updating your playbook and ensuring it’s accessible to everyone who needs it.
Make your RevOps playbook a visual document
Way back at the start of this article, we shared a page from Alabama Crimson Tide’s playbook.
In case you’ve forgotten, here it is again:
It would have been quicker and easier to simply include that information as a bullet-pointed list.
But turning it into a graphic makes it much more impactful and brings real meaning to the copy.
Follow Alabama’s lead by adding visual elements to relevant sections of your RevOps playbook.
It’ll help you communicate abstract concepts while ensuring that the most important information in your playbook stands out.
How to implement your RevOps playbook
Creating a RevOps playbook isn’t going to happen overnight.
Having spent a bunch of time on it, the last thing you want is for your playbook to fall flat.
Increase your chances of success by addressing these common challenges — ideally before implementing your playbook:
- Is your leadership team in place? Your heads of sales, marketing, and customer success will play a key role in the implementation and adoption of your RevOps playbook. At the very least, someone on each team should be responsible for ensuring their colleagues understand how to use it.
- Do you have the technical expertise to make it work? Some of the roles and responsibilities set out in your playbook might require specific, technical skills. If you don’t have people with those skills, you’ll need to find them — fast!
- Have you invested in the right tools? Without a comprehensive tech stack, it’ll be a whole lot harder to grow your revenue stream. From a robust CRM to effective marketing automation, these tools are vital to hitting your revenue goals.
Support your RevOps goals with Encharge
Speaking of marketing automation brings us nicely to Encharge.
Our platform joins the dots between your sales and marketing stack without requiring your developers.
That means no more siloed teams struggling to make sense of disconnected data.
We help you streamline your processes and build automated campaigns that convert, onboard, and retain customers. Find out for yourself by signing up for a 14-day free trial.