This is a series where we break down popular Product-Led Sales playbooks that teams use to prioritize opportunities and convert them into revenue. Each playbook will focus on a specific PLS goal and how Pocus can help you operationalize the playbook with your teams.
So what is a Product-Led Sales playbook? Similar to sales playbooks where best practices and actions are outlined for specific personas, a PLS playbook aims to define the go-to-market motion your team is running. ICYMI, we recently announced a new feature in Pocus - Magic Playbooks - to make it easier for teams to operationalize their PLS playbooks faster.
Pocus customers are running multiple playbooks that vary depending on the type of product, stage of company, and sales maturity. Here are just a few examples of the types of PLS playbooks your team might run:
In this blog we’re going to dive into one of the most popular Product-Led Sales playbooks: Expansion. You’ll learn…
- What is a playbook
- What is an expansion playbook
- Whether an expansion playbook is right for your team
- How to operationalize an expansion playbook in Pocus
What is a Product-Led Sales playbook?
A PLS playbook, like a sales playbook, is a way to organize and operationalize your go-to-market motion.
What are the key components of a PLS playbook?
#1 There should be a primary goal for the playbook
Each Pocus Playbook needs a goal. This goal can be to achieve a specific status for accounts or leads like “paid” or “activated” or prevent a condition like “churned”. For example, if you are running a free to paid conversion playbook. Your primary goal will be for accounts to change status from “free” to “paid”.
#2 You can’t run a playbook without a team
A playbook needs to be run by a team or set of teams within your go-to-market organization. For example, you might have only SDRs focused on your free to paid conversion playbook while your Customer Success team focuses on the expansion playbook.
#3 Each playbook needs a segment of customers who are eligible
You wouldn’t run an expansion playbook with a brand new customer and you can’t convert an already paying account to paid. So you need to define who is eligible for each playbook.
#4 Within each playbook are a set of plays
Each playbook has a set of plays which define a trigger and corresponding action that your team should take to get closer to the goal of that playbook.
What is an expansion playbook?
Expansion is exactly what it sounds like: a playbook to expand existing accounts already on your product.
There are two primary expansion playbooks you’ll see PLS organizations running:
- Seat expansion - Find opportunities to increase users within an existing team, department, or business unit to get closer to a wall-to-wall deployment.
- Use case expansion - Expand use case footprint within an existing account to deepen engagement and expand to new teams.
Expansion playbooks are popular for Product-Led Sales teams because they leverage existing users who are happy with your product as the primary funnel to generate more revenue. It costs more money for your team to acquire net new customers than simply improving retention and deepening your relationship with existing customers.
Let’s dive into these two playbooks and how you can execute on them easily within Pocus.
In SaaS, you can have many types of pricing plans. The most popular plans you’ll see are either seat-based or consumption-based.
With seat-based pricing plans, you’ll see the subscription prices scale based on the number of users or seats on the account. This incentivizes your sales and success teams to look for opportunities to scale the number of seats the customer is using.
Here’s an example of Zoho CRM’s seat-based pricing model where you can see that each pricing plan is charged per user per month.
SaaS companies often choose this model for its simplicity and predictability.
Another example is Airtable’s pricing plan. Airtable is designed for collaboration, the more team members on Airtable the more value you can drive.
Now imagine you’re a salesperson at Airtable. Seat expansion is going to be a very important playbook for the sales and customer success teams. The pricing model and economics directly incentivize the go-to-market team to look for seat expansion opportunities. More seats equal more collaboration equals increased retention and, therefore, revenue.
Should you run a seat expansion playbook?
Seat expansion is not for everyone.
If your pricing model doesn’t scale based on the number of users, then there is no direct economic incentive to increase seats.
However, for many products, collaboration and multi-player usage is an important lever for deepening engagement and expanding value. So even if the economic incentive doesn’t exist directly, your team may still benefit from a seat expansion play.
Run a seat expansion playbook
Decided to run a seat expansion playbook? Great! Here’s how to set it up in Pocus.
Step 1 Choose a goal for the playbook
For seat expansion the goal is quite easy you want to increase seats by either a percent change or an absolute number.
Step 2 Choose what customer segments should be in this playbook
What customers would you typically target for seat expansion? Use this question to help you pick the right segment. This does not have to be very granular. A good segment of customers for seat expansion are paying customers who already have more than 1 seat.
Step 3 What internal teams should be executing on this playbook?
What teams will be responsible for running this playbook? For seat expansion, we’ve seen PLG companies where Account Executives own this, others where Account Managers or Customer Success own expansion. By choosing teams and individuals here you’ll control who gets to see seat expansion leads in their Pocus Inbox and Slack alerts every morning.
Step 4 Define the plays your teams will run
This is where things get interesting. What triggers indicate that an account is ready for seat expansion? What is the next best action to take when that trigger occurs? This is how we define each play - a trigger (a qualifying event in their user journey) and an action (taken by your team or automated in another tool).
Here are some examples of triggers to consider when running a seat expansion playbook.
- Account Upside is greater than X - Calculate what percentage of the employee count at the company is not using your product. That’s the upside where your sales team can expand the footprint of the account.
- Account growth rate is greater than normal - What does the month over month or week-over-week growth in seats/users look like today? If it grows over the norm in a single month this is a good indicator that an expansion opportunity exists.
- # of free users is greater than the # of paid users - What are the # of free users on the account vs. # of paid users on the enterprise plan. If there are a number of free users but only a few paying, it may be time to make the case for growing the enterprise user footprint.
- Key enterprise feature is turned on - If an enterprise feature like SSO is enabled it makes it easier for the entire company to use the product. This is a key trigger for a seat expansion conversation with the workspace admin and decision maker.
Use these signals to determine if the account has expansion potential and run specific actions based on these triggers to engage with users in the account. These actions can be broken into actions your sales team completes, this is called a human touch, or an automated action completed on your team's behalf, we call this a tech touch.
Seat expansion plays
How are plays operationalized for your team?
The Pocus Inbox.
See every account that enters your seat expansion playbook with clear instructions for what to do next.
Use Case Expansion
Another way to expand an account is through use case expansion.
This is really the holy grail for SaaS businesses in a product-led world. Retention is the name of the game and focusing on consistently adding value for your customers in new ways will help deepen their engagement and increase retention over time.
This playbook is often run by the customer success team in a Product-Led Sales organization. Why? Because your CS teams understand your existing users and their unique needs the best. As a trusted customer resource, success teams are ideally placed to help customers get more value by expanding their use cases.
A popular example many of you will be familiar with is Hubspot.
Hubspot has a few product lines focused on different use cases: marketing, sales, and support. A common playbook for their teams is use case expansion. Take a small startup that buys Hubspot for marketing needs. When that team adds their first sales or support person, the Hubspot CS team has a reason to reach out and share the value of their sales and support tools.
Should you run a use case expansion playbook?
If your product has multiple use cases across different teams, the short answer is yes!
If your product really only has one primary use case then a use case expansion may not be right for you.
Run a use case expansion playbook
Ready to run your use case expansion playbook? Here’s how to do it in Pocus. Steps 1-3 are the same as above, so let’s dive into defining plays for use case expansion.
Here are some triggers to consider when running a use case expansion playbook.
- New feature trial started - Do you allow users to trial upgrade features? This shows strong potential for a new use case.
- Feature usage increase is above average - When a certain feature usage increases velocity and may indicate overall growth in the account.
- User in new department added - When a new user is added to the account from a different team that aligns to another product or feature in your portfolio.
Seat Expansion Plays
If we go back to the example of Hubspot, let’s say the account owner for Acme corp receives a Slack alert from Pocus that feature usage has increased above the average.
What should the account owner do next? The goal should be to get on the phone with the product champion or another potential buyer in the account. Send an email to book a meeting.
Once the meeting is booked, it’s time to prep.
Prepare a slide deck with account insights for that meeting using Pocus’ Google Slides generator or simply use search to pull up insights during the meeting to share with the workspace admin. Use these insights to uncover what new use cases the team at Acme corp may need to configure.
Set up your expansion playbook with Pocus 🪄