If you give your sales and marketing a document containing their buyers’ goals, decision-makers, and pain points and every reason a deal may not go through, they will take this information happily and even pay you handsomely.
The only document that contains such details is the mutual action plan. So, is many businesses not using a mutual action plan for sales?
The simple answer is that they may not understand what it is and how it is used. Read through this guide to learn more about this important document.
What is a mutual action plan?
A mutual action plan is a business document that is prepared in collaboration between the seller and the buyer, outlining crucial action plans, milestones, and deadlines needed to seal a deal. Also known as a mutual success plan, joint execution plan, or close plan, this document helps create visibility and adjustments to timelines and priorities for a successful purchase plan.
Since businesses have varied deal processes and life cycles, a mutual action plan for sales is vital for laying out necessary procedures and how both partners can partner to speed up the final sale.
The primary objective of a mutual action plan is partnering with buying and selling teams by clarifying;
- The actions needed to close the deal.
- Who is responsible for what?
- Key milestones and deadlines.
- Features of a successful sales deal.
The best thing with MAP is that it helps the seller avoid unexpected bottlenecks to closing a deal while the buyer gets a smooth buying process with reduced risks.
Interestingly, the Mutual Action Plan, abbreviated to “MAP,” is a relevant and helpful metaphor because a map is used to give directions to a particular place. Both documents help people understand where they want to go, the steps needed to reach there, and the expected pain points along the way.
Is a Mutual Action Plan for sales really mutual?
The term “mutual” in the mutual action plan is somehow deceptive.
Although this document is technically a shared way plan between the seller and the buyer, but as the seller, you should take much of the work. It is the seller’s job to create the plan, share it with partners, keep the timelines updated, and ensure the plan moves forward until sales closing or disqualification.
However, this document is typically more mutually created when the sales team is more complex. For instance, when there are a lot of people involved or the buyer got strict procurement requirements.
However, even in such a scenario, the primary aim of MAP is to simplify the client’s work, not add on it.
Why every marketing team should use a mutual action plan.
In B2B businesses where sales cycles are becoming more non-linear, it is not a matter of whether or not you should use MAP but how can you use it.
If you need more convincing, below is why you should use a mutual action plan for sales.
1. Improve the buying process.
First and foremost, mutual action plan creates a smooth buying experience for the potential leads. It offers value to your clients as they;
- Define the objectives, scope, and purchasing steps.
- Identify and minimize risks.
- Hold decision-makers and stakeholders accountable.
- Reduce work and save time for the buyer.
- Encourage transparency between the buying and selling parties.
By planning and showing due diligence from the start to the end of the customer management cycle, you establish yourself as a trusted business partner from the beginning. This reduces the mental pressure on your customers and creates confidence that your team will be organized as you.
Remember to share these benefits with your buyer when introducing your map to them, as you need their input for the plan to be successful.
2. More accurate revenue forecast.
If you are the lead salesperson working with public markets and a company board, monitoring sales to provide sales forecasts is one of your major roles.
However, common forecasting software is unclear. They forecast sales revenue based on the engagement signals collected from your CRM platforms, such as phone calls, live chat solutions, email opens, etc., or broad deal phases, such as discovery, proposal, negotiation, and qualification.
Since mutual action plan works at granular milestone levels, you are able to see the exact picture of your sales process. And with an effective MAP tool, you can direct the stage-phase analytics right into your CRM or sales forecasts.
Then, by continuously monitoring and tracking deals at every milestone stage, you’ll be able to foresee the chances of a deal closing or disqualifying. For example, you will be able to tell if a customer has an 80% chance of buying and give the same percentage of energy to ensure the deal is closed.
And since your mutual action plan got the buyer’s milestones, you will have the expected closing date imprinted in your document.
3. Offer a better deal closing training.
A MAP document is every sales manager’s dream. To begin with, mutual action plan for sales forces your sales representative to follow well-explained steps to ensure the deal is closed, especially when they are in training and don’t know the procedure to follow to close a deal.
And secondly, as the document helps you track sales-level progress, it also allows you to see how the buyer is prepared and committed to closing the deal. This let’s know the stage they encounter challenges and let you coach them appropriately.
For example, as a leader, you may notice that your sales agents’ deals are always falling apart after giving an extended demo to the prospects’ team. In this case, you will know that the rep needs coaching on best practices for sales demos.
4. Close more deals.
As we have seen in the use cases above, everything points to smoother deal closures. Mutual action plans help the sales team to design a repeatable process that is used to close more deals faster.
By identifying major stakeholders and potential challenges earlier, you prevent any late surprises that can stop the sales from going through. This actually works best for long-sales-cycle enterprise deals with complex challenges and buying teams.
This document also strengthens the sales process by building accountability since the buyer acknowledges their roles in the whole deal closing. Also, the buyer’s engagement in the plan shows a strong buyer intention, meaning increased chances of the deal qualifying.
How to create a mutual action plan.
Building an effective mutual action plan takes some time and effort; however, once you have everything in place, it can give the right tone and framework for engagement.
Although the standard format may vary from one organization to another, the following are the fundamental elements that should be included;
Include a value summary.
A MAP document should have a value summary on top of it. Usually, this is around three to four sentences explaining the value the solution will add to the buyer.
A value summary uses customer-centric language and should cover the following;
- The impact on the real product users.
- Potential increase in productivity or decrease in manual efforts.
- Expected benefits to buyer’s end user.
- The impact of purchase margin.
Customers may inherently feel that a purchase will result in some benefits, but the value summary guides them to more introspection and acts as a way to address naysayers’ concerns.
2. Name all important stakeholders.
You have to understand that you will not deal with a single buyer if you are the sales rep. although you may interact with one or two people, you must convince an executive buying committee with several decision-makers.
Image alt text: mutual action plan for sales. A business agreement handshake between partners.
Author credit: By rawpixel.com – https://www.rawpixel.com/image/1138, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67537455
But how do you convince them? By first knowing who they are after which, you can personalize your strategy. Excitingly, even your partners from the other side may not know everyone on the stakeholders list initially. However, this is the primary goal of the customer management cycle with MAP-to remove doubt from the process.
3. Outline deliverables
The major section of a mutual action plan is the list of deliverables. This list can be built through different strategies, and all of these revolve around the buyer’s perspectives.
- Identify the tasks that need to be done to convince your partners. These could be actions such as types of use cases and extra product demos.
- Trace the approval stages of the buyers’ side and create tasks that ensure every partner is invested in the success of the deal.
4. Build out timelines.
Having timelines for your mutual action plan for sales lets you track progress at regular intervals and make corrections earlier on if necessary. Also, it acts as a predictive method for sales leaders and reps.
Settling on deadlines and dates requires consultations and alignment of the process cycle from both parties. As the one selling, you may want the timelines to reflect the steps of the sales cycle, such as identification, qualification, and validation. This is the seller’s language, not the buyers.
Instead, we recommend that sellers change their language to buyer-focused language or terms customers will find easy to use. For example, if a step is called customer qualification in the seller’s language, you can change it to the education and awareness stage to fit the buyer’s terms.
5. List the responsibility of every partner.
For every deliverable outlined in your plan, assign people to promote accountability while defining everyone and their responsibilities.
Pair owners for every deliverable on your plan. One from the seller and another one from the buyer’s side. Although sellers usually feel compelled to do everything on their own, this approach is not practical.
Only through a collaborative effort from both parties can a mutual plan deliver results as expected without hindrance. Narrow and be as specific as you can. For instance, instead of just assigning a deliverable to the “marketing team,” list individual people and what they are expected to do.
This promotes accountability and allows for a smooth transfer of ownership in case of a change in the contract.
6. Focus on ROI and customer outcome.
A joint execution plan is only complete after delivering customers’ objectives and ROI, not just closing the deal. Therefore, it means that the process should include onboarding, implementation, and revenue targets.
Besides the standard ROI targets, you must define the expected results for each deliverable. Design specific criteria for success for successful completion of the plan’s deliverables.
Challenges and solutions of a mutual action plan.
Developing a MAP does not come without some challenges. This is true because the process requires collaboration between two unique parties to sit down and execute a joint project.
The level of coordination required takes time, effort, and commitment. However, knowing these challenges is the first step to overcoming them.
Realizing true buy-ins from clients.
Sometimes, strategies fail because they are too sales-focused, and buyers do not commit to the process as they should. There are also chances that your leading point man from the buyer’s team is passionate about the plan, but the rest are not.
The best way to overcome this challenge is by bringing every right stakeholder and decision-maker together rather than putting the burden of ensuring the plan’s success on one individual. You can achieve this by expanding your engagement scope and platform.
Leverage other effective business communication methods, that can create convenience when working as a team. Solutions such as mobile-enabled live chat software are one of the systems that can increase collaborations.
Staying true to the timelines.
A mutual action plan may divert from the originally stated timelines, leading to frustrating delays in the process. This is especially common to buyers who juggle multiple projects and may end up not prioritizing the MAP or reducing the concentration they had in the beginning.
The solution to this challenge lies in how to position the challenge statement. Instead of seeing it as a delay that impacts the deal closure deadlines, highlight the impacts of missed timelines on the business objectives and customers’ ROI.
Incorporating all important data.
Implementation of a MAP document is a heavily data-driven process. You need to document several things, such as dependencies status, milestones, updates, and communication logs, among others.
There are several moving parts and deliverables and timelines may need to go through multiple revisions. And all these require tracking and reporting with data-backed insights. A simple spreadsheet is not enough to solve this problem.
What you need to do is to adopt a workflow management solution or a software platform that can automatically capture and maintain the continual deliverable updates as required.
Tips for getting more of your mutual action plan.
A mutual action plan is a collaborative strategy designed to achieve common goals by aligning the actions of all involved parties.
Image alt text: mutual action plan for sales online templates.
Author credit: By Custom Neon Images – https://www.flickr.com/photos/193530019@N08/51316001654/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=107735500
Whether you are working on a project with your team or collaborating with a partner or client, a mutual action plan can help to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objective.
But how can you get more out of this plan? Read below as we discuss five tips for getting more out of a mutual action plan.
Set Clear Goals and Objectives.
The first step in creating a successful mutual action plan is to set clear and specific goals and objectives. This means defining what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it and how you will measure success.
Please make sure everyone involved in the plan understands and agrees on the goals and make sure they are realistic and achievable.
Identify Roles and Responsibilities.
To ensure everyone knows what is expected of them, it is essential to define clearly the roles and responsibilities of each team member. This means identifying who is responsible for each task, who will be accountable for the results, and who will provide support and guidance when needed.
By doing this, you can ensure that everyone knows what they are responsible for and that the plan can be executed smoothly.
Create a Realistic Timeline.
A mutual action plan must have a timeline that is both realistic and achievable. It is important to set deadlines for each task, so that progress can be tracked and issues can be identified early on. Be sure to factor in any potential roadblocks or delays, and make sure that everyone involved in the plan is aware of the timeline.
Communicate Clearly and Effectively.
Clear communication is essential for a successful mutual action plan. This means keeping everyone informed of progress and making sure everyone knows what is expected of them.
Regular meetings and updates can help keep everyone on track and ensure any issues are identified and addressed promptly. It is vital to ensure that everyone is aware of any changes to the plan and that any concerns or questions are addressed promptly.
Monitor and Evaluate Progress
To ensure that your mutual action plan is on track, it is important to monitor progress and evaluate the results.
This means tracking the progress of each task, identifying any issues, and making adjustments where necessary. Regular evaluation can help identify improvement areas and ensure that the plan remains relevant and effective.
A Mutual Action Plan (MAP) is an essential tool for sales success. It provides a clear guideline for salespeople to collaborate with their clients, aligning their efforts and goals for joint business success.
By defining specific actions and timelines, this document helps sales reps build trust with their customers and establish a better strategic, consultative relationship. Successful implementation of the MAP requires careful planning and preparation, including effective communication with clients to ensure mutual understanding and buy-in.
Regular review and updating of the plan are also critical to maintaining its relevance and effectiveness over time.
By embracing the Mutual Action Plan, sales teams can improve their efficiency and effectiveness while creating a more positive and productive relationship with their clients. Ultimately, this approach can help drive business growth and establish a strong foundation for long-term success.