You know what a mutual action plan, or MAP, is, and you’re aware of its potential benefits for your organization. Maybe you’ve even already sold the idea of a MAP to your team.
Now, it’s time to put the mutual action plan together so you can put it into practice. Where do you start? What elements are essential, and which are nice to have?
Use this guide to develop your mutual action plan template, informed by the industry’s best practices. You can even download our customizable template, and get the mutual action plan into place sooner and more easily than you think.
1. Focus on value proposition
Include a 20- to 30-word summary of your value proposition at the top of your mutual action plan. Ideally buyers will share the mutual action plan with their peers and superiors on the buyer committee, so give those people some context.
The value proposition should be tied to an identified priority, so when the boss is looking at it, she’s not thinking, “What is this new vendor spend?” She’s thinking, “Yes, I do want that priority solved. Make it happen!”
2. Be customer-centric at every step
A mutual action plan is, as its name suggests, a two-party plan. It’s important to remember that the mutual action plan should be customer-centric at every step. Be sure to include any customer events on your timeline. These external dates stop the deal from slipping.
Also, consider what the final step on your timeline. Too many mutual action plans have a signed contract as the final step. Emphasizing the close signals to the buyer that you’re concerned with getting paid instead of solving their problem.
Make sure the last milestone is the buyer getting value. Call this milestone “Optimization.” Optimization is a review of implementation, making sure they received everything sales promised. Optimization should include a review of easy-to-achieve goals.
3. Break the process into seven to nine milestones
It’s tempting to make a mutual action plan incredibly granular; however, focusing on concision, clarity, and the bigger picture is a more effective approach. Senior decision makers have 30 seconds to review your mutual action plan. They can’t be expected to digest 40 equally hierarchical steps. At best, they’ll get lost in the weeds. At worst, they’ll feel overwhelmed and shut down.
But guard against oversimplifying the mutual action plan, too. One way to do this is by ensuring the milestones serve as the larger framework for the mutual action plan, while sub-steps under each milestone can allow for a bit more detail and explanation.
Ideally, these sub-steps can hide and expand, so you don’t even see them unless you drill in. This allows a senior decision maker to say the words you want to hear: “Sounds like you’ve got this under control. Carry on.”
Sales is a series of small wins. Present each milestone as having value by describing what the buyer gets out of investing time and resources on this specific milestone.
Don’t be afraid to include your own activities. Seeing work done on their behalf means the buyer is less likely to vanish. You also demonstrate credibility by involving other team members. By listing outcomes, you ensure your reps don’t drop the ball.
4. Identify people and roles for each milestone
You know the roles that should be involved in each milestone. Include these roles in your descriptions, then ask your team and the buyer team to name the people who fit each role, and invite them to the mutual action plan. Include a summary view of all people involved on both teams. The buyer will appreciate seeing who’s on their selling team, and sellers can make peer-to-peer connections.
If possible, add a vice president from the seller’s team to the mutual action plan in order to generate credibility. This signals that everything in the deal is also what you’ll say to your boss. This two-way visibility helps if you ever need your executive to unstick a step.
Introduce customer success or an account manager in an early milestone. This makes it easier for the seller to bow out gracefully after signing the contract.
A mutual action plan shows your customer that you’re aligned with their interests, that you’re organized and you’ve done this before. The next step is to operationalize these plans so every rep is achieving their maximum potential.
Download the Ultimate Map Template. You can edit it to match your process and start collaborating, so your customers can see you have a plan to fix their problem and you can see if you’re dealing with a serious buyer.