Sales Development Playbook – Whitepaper

The Sales Development Playbook designed by Saleslift Studio is a framework created to enable you to design a successful Sales Development strategy. Firstly it is important to clarify the definition of Sales Development. 

Sales development is an organisation that sits between the marketing and sales function of a business and is charged with the front end of the sales cycle: identifying, connecting with and qualifying leads. Simply put this organisation is tasked with setting up qualified meeting between a salesperson and potential buyer with a probability of purchase aka conversion. A lead that meets this criteria is called a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). Once a lead is successfully deemed to be qualified, it is then passed to a salesperson, typically an Account Executive, who takes ownership of the lead and continues on with the sales process. 

The ultimate goal is to create a machine that predictably generates new business. What that process looks like is unique to each business. You can use the Sales Development Playbook for new business campaigns, brand awareness, customer success, lead nurturing, etc. We aim to get and stay on the radar with the right strategy with exactly the person you want to talk to. You don’t have to have just one Playbook, you can design a new one for every product, niche or persona. 

The playbook as you can see consists of 5 columns. Idea customer profile, key indicators for success, engagement, storyline and campaign. When you start designing the Playbook yourself it’s important that you specify your focus. For example on a product, region, case study or solution / challenge. In order to achieve a good result, it is important that you take the time to work on the Playbook with the team of stakeholder who will be involved in the project. Think of; Marketing, Business Developer, Account Executive, Manager etc.

In this article we explain the different parts step by step.

Ideal Customer Profile

We start with the target market. Formulated on the basis of which criteria you can describe or define. For example one of our customers is OneFit, they offer a flexible company fitness subscription. The locations where you can exercise are situated mainly in large urban areas. A criteria for the market in this case is therefore a radius of X miles around the city. You also are able to narrow your target by looking at industries, company size, B2B or B2C, region, turnover and other criteria such as the company has recently received funding or has gone through certain growth. As you can see the criteria is not just focussed on a person alone. 

In the next section we will dive deeper and look at who you want to meet with. Focusing on job title. The difference between the ideal picture and reality is important. When I ask customers who they want to talk to, you often get the usual suspects such as CEO, Marketing Director, Head of Sales. But take a look at the job title of the last 10 new clients you brought in. Then you probably see that there is a lot of variation in their titles. In addition, several stakeholders are involved in the DMU (decision making unit) during the process with which you want them to come to your table. Based on the job title and the market, we cluster them into personas. You only do this if you also want to approach these personas in a different way.

Now the market and your ICP (ideal customer profile) have been identified. You will map out how big your market actually is with the help of research. 9 times out of 10 you can map the potential sales market based on the results and criteria that you can utilise in Sales Navigator (Sales version of Linkedin).

What is the suitable strategy to get in touch with your ICP? Can we develop an account based strategy, persona based, personal 1 on 1 approach or do we focus more on brand awareness? This depends on your market and ICP.

Key Indicators for Success

The next column is about key indicators for success. A kind of checklist that you can put next to your sales development campaign. The more strongly represented, the better the campaign will perform. Reason to reach is a reason to contact your ICP. Only “I came across your profile on Linkedin” is not a valid reason. A logical statement that focuses on the person and not you needs to be made. 

We are dealing with people, you are not talking to accounts. What’s in it for me as a person should be obvious early in the campaign phase. You want to add value for that individual, bring something. Don’t talk about your product or how their organization can benefit from it when x, y, z. No, why does this person have to make the time for you? What good is it for them to create time in their busy schedule just to listen to you? Do you take away their frustrations, do you make their life easier, do you help them shine with their manager?

Only after you have discovered and discussed personal benefits can you proceed to discuss company benefits. THe majority of the time these are focussed on long term objectives.

In order to demonstrate why now you have reached out can be aided with the creation and link to current events. Is it important to take action now or can it wait until next year? The statement ‘because you want to achieve your targets this quarter’ does not count as a good interpretation of why now.


We’re on the radar, now what? How do you present yourself, or what is the introduction of your organization? You agree this in advance with the team. When we do workshops using the Playbook, commonly we notice that there is a disconnect here. It is also important to think about the goals you set for a campaign. Do you want to build new relationships, create direct opportunities or invite people to an (online) event? You determine the CTA per step in a sales campaign, also think about a second best indicator.

You often hear content is king. Content is in any case key in this process. We orchestrate contact moments across different channels within a certain period. Via Linkedin, mail, telephone, landing pages or chat. In these contact moments you try to add value in every step through good relevant information.

We often reverse the inbound marketing method. We share the right content based on 3 phases: awareness, consideration and decision. Different content suits each phase. Start easily with content that is already available, but in the end you adjust the details to your campaign. This way you stay relevant with every contact moment without having to fall back on reminders.


You will distil all the information that you have collected while filling in the Playbook into your unique circumstance. Choose the most applicable starting points and write your story in full. Think of a method such as Spin, Aida or another theory to put a story on paper. Don’t skimp on copywriting. We work for KesselsKramer (advertising agency), they are of course lord and master in copywriting. We used these skills in the campaigns which clearly had a significant impact on the result. Now we are not all KesselsKramer, but in any case, do not place the heavy responsibility of message creation with your intern.

Once you are satisfied with the storyline, you will cut it up into logical pieces that you want to share with your ICP in a flow of contact moments. Our campaigns consist of at least 7 contact moments across different channels. There are many tools available that can help you in this process. Remember that it is about the strategy and not the tools, if the input is not good, you will not get good results.

This manual alone is not the way to success, unfortunately it cannot be put into a manual. However it does give you a helping hand to think seriously about implementing a good strategy. For more insights and tools, take a look at further articles.

If, after reading this manual, you still have questions about Sales Development, this Playbook or the rollout of the software, please contact us: