A mutual action plan makes buying easier and speeds up the sales cycle.
Also known as a go-live plan, mutual success plan, joint execution plan, or just a MAP, a mutual action plan ensures the selling team is aligned with the customer on deal objectives and the major milestones required to accomplish that objective. Armed with a collaborative mutual action plan, reps can call the deal with higher confidence, and front line managers can see their reps are implementing processes consistently.
At its most basic, a mutual action plan answers the question: “Who needs to do what to make this deal happen?” That’s key for a successful revenue operations organization.
To develop a mutual action plan, it can help to start with a template that combines the stages from your sales process with the milestones of your customer’s buying journey. Each mutual action plan will need to be customized to each client. Here’s how to do that.
Establishing and implementing effective mutual action plan
1. Make sure it’s truly mutual
If the buyers aren’t contributing to the mutual action plan, it’s not, well, mutual. And if the plan isn’t mutual, you’re not getting any validation of prospect engagement. Engaging your client at every step of the mutual action plan development and implementation process is critical to success.
2. Think outcomes, not tasks
Use buyer-centric language. Actions or outcomes are goals that bring you and your buyer one step closer to success. Tasks are onerous to-do list items that you try to delegate to someone else. You and your buyer want to be focused on outcomes.
3. Add the buyer’s other key dates
Ideally, you have successfully anchored this deal’s target close date to some external initiative of the buyer. That makes for a truly compelling event. Include that external event’s date on the mutual action plan so buyers remember why they’re working on this schedule and can recognize the cost of slippage.
4. Work back from the launch date
You know roughly how long it takes to reach each milestone, so include those estimates in your template, subject to buyer input. You create urgency by working backwards from the launch date, with the next step due very close to the day you introduce the plan. The launch date should be scheduled sometime after onboarding.
5. Last step is ROI, not a signature
The final item on your mutual action plan should be the promised payout of your solution,—not the day you get your commission. Include a summary of the value proposition and a rough date for when the buyer should first see some return on their investment. This reinforces urgency and reframes the act of signing the contract as just another step to achieving the outcome they want.
6. Introduce the mutual action plan to your buyer early
There’s no point in discussing a mutual action plan until a buyer has agreed there’s at least potential for fit. However, you can show those early steps as complete when you first share the MAP template. Doing so will establish a sense of momentum. It also shows decision makers coming into the process later on that the deal has undergone due diligence.
7. Keep it live and up-to-date
Your mutual action plan has to be a living document or it will lose its value. Ensuring that the mutual action plan is accessible and current to all stakeholders is crucial. Storing the document online creates a shared source of truth for everyone who is involved in the mutual action plan.
8. Identify roles first, then names
You may not know specific stakeholders’ names in early stages of mutual action plan development, but you do know what role should be responsible for each outcome. Tracking roles creates a reason to ask the question, “Who’s in charge of this?,” which will lead you to learning the names of key stakeholders.
9. Show the impact of slipped dates
It’s a given: Targets and dates will slip. Show the impact of slippage by highlighting total days off schedule, as well as which milestones and stakeholders are causing the backup. You can create an agenda item to keep deals on track.
10. Share as widely as possible
The mutual action plan, MAP, isn’t finished once it’s developed and implemented. The rep must track progress toward objectives and outcomes, and ensure that deadlines are met, outcomes are completed, and achievement is logged. Be sure to build periodic check-in cadences (weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly) so the entire sales and client teams have visibility into the mutual action plan’s progress, and to strengthen accountability among all stakeholders.
Don’t forget the why
Make sure you present the idea of a mutual action plan to your client by underscoring the benefits for them. More transparency makes it easier for clients to trust their counterparts on the sales side, which reduces the risk that they end up wasting time, or worse, being held responsible for a deal gone bad.
Mutual action plan benefits include:
- Reducing risk
- Decreasing unnecessary work
- Improving self-awareness
- Understanding scope
- Ensuring accountability
And one for yourself
From the perspective of the sales organization, if the buyer understands and accepts effort and actions to finish the deal, that deal is more likely to close. If the buyer fulfills the commitments of each step, they’re signaling great intent. You’re less likely to lose momentum.
If the buyer isn’t willing to invest time in the mutual action plan, then disqualifying faster leads to a faster sales cycle, which means more time for fresh prospecting.
Finally, there is no better way to forecast certainty than seeing these progressive milestones reached on time. If there is a problem, you can start working on a solution well before it risks derailing the deal.