When navigating the maze of B2B sales, the Mutual Action Plan (MAP) is your GPS!
Learn how to simplify the journey for buyers and sellers by setting clear expectations throughout the sales cycle with a customizable MAP template and best practices.
What is a Mutual Action Plan?
A Mutual Action Plan (MAP) is a shared guiding document detailing the entire sales journey between the buyer and seller. It defines milestones and due dates from the initial interaction to the concluding agreement.
Including MAPs in your sales enablement tool can significantly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales team. It makes your sales reps better equipped to stand out in a competitive market.
7 Reasons Why Your Sales Team Need a Mutual Action Plan?
A MAP or project plan ensures both parties know what to expect at each sales cycle stage. It acts as a buyer-centric guide or deal playbook, ensuring that all parties have a clear path to the finish line.
If the Gartner buyer survey tells us anything, the B2B buying process is complex. With a typical buying team consisting of six to 10 decision-makers, each consulting four to five sources of information, arriving at buy-in becomes a Herculean task. In fact, Gartner found that 95% of buying groups revisit decisions as new information comes to light, and 77% of B2B customers rate their buying experience as highly complex or challenging.
As Brent Adamson, Distinguished VP of Advisory at Gartner, says, “There’s a massive opportunity for supplier organizations to simplify the purchase process by providing customers the information they need to anticipate obstacles and overcome them.”
Why is a MAP indispensable for your sales strategy? Let’s break it down:
1. Speeds up the sales cycle
A MAP clearly outlines what needs to happen and when. This reduces delays and expedites the sales cycle, making it invaluable for effective pipeline management.
2. Documents the sales process
Have you ever found yourself fumbling to remember the deliverables agreed upon in the last meeting? Or miss a follow-up? A MAP solves this by documenting each step, key dates, milestones, and agreements. This ensures that everyone is on the same page. This documentation is critical in complex sales scenarios with multiple stakeholders and lots of information.
3. Creates a standard template
Consistency is critical, especially when dealing with multiple stakeholders. A MAP can be standardized into a reusable template, ensuring sales leaders and their selling team have a uniform approach to each sale.
4. Align goals and objectives
According to Gartner, employees are 77% more likely to be high performers when their understanding of goals and their connection to work is higher than when their understanding is low. A MAP aligns the objectives of all parties.
5. Enhances accountability
Proper onboarding, sales training and coaching can elevate the effectiveness of a MAP by teaching sales teams to take ownership of their deals and document success criteria. This added layer of accountability ensures that each part of the plan is executed as intended.
6. Reduces risk
A MAP clearly defines who is responsible for what, eliminating ambiguity and reducing the risk of tasks falling through the cracks or getting delayed.
7. Clarifies scope
By outlining milestones and deadlines, a MAP ensures sales reps and buyer stakeholders understand the project’s scope, avoiding any last-minute surprises and ensuring alignment in expectations.
A well-crafted MAP will equip your sales team to confidently navigate the B2B buying process, making the journey smoother for themselves and the buyer and ultimately helping close more deals.
How to Create a Mutual Action Plan
Creating a MAP doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You’re crafting a joint execution plan that aligns the sales team and buyers toward a successful deal. Here’s a step-by-step roadmap to create a MAP that aligns everyone’s goals and fast-tracks the sales process.
- Meet with stakeholders: The first step is to meet with all decision-makers to assess their wants and needs. This sets the stage for a MAP that is mutually beneficial.
- Start with a collaborative document: Use a template outlining the sales workflow stages and the customer buying journey milestones. This ensures the plan is comprehensive and aligns with both parties’ objectives.
- Agree on a timeline: Working back from the buyer’s projected launch date, establish clear timelines for each milestone and activity, including a close plan and close date. This helps with realistic planning and keeps everyone on track.
- Monitor: Regularly track the progress of the plan. Use CRM metrics and automation to ensure the MAP guides the sales process toward desired goals.
- Update: As new information emerges or circumstances change, update the MAP to reflect these changes, ensuring it remains a relevant tool for all stakeholders.
Elements of a Mutual Action Plan
It’s important to make a comprehensive MAP that includes elements catering to both the buyer’s and the seller’s needs, as well as facilitate data-driven sales coaching. Here are the components to consider:
Identify the organizations that are part of the agreement. This sets the context and clarifies who the key players are.
Designate people from the seller and buyer side responsible for coordination throughout the sale’s journey.
Outline the core value each party—the buyer and the account executive—expects to gain from entering a business relationship. It aims to capture the “why” behind the purchase, providing a focal point that keeps everyone aligned and motivated throughout the process.
Be specific about what each party will deliver. Make sure these are measurable and quantifiable.
Beyond the project managers, list everyone with a vested interest in the deal. This ensures that all players have visibility and input into the plan.
From initial meetings to contract signing, expected launch date, and beyond, break down the process into milestones, marking each with a specific date. This serves as a mini-roadmap within the MAP, helping to track progress.
Key performance indicators (KPIs)
Identify the metrics to measure success. These may include win rates, timeline achievements, conversion rate, financials and ROI, and customer success scores.
Clearly outline the financial aspects of the project, including pricing, payment terms, and any other financial commitments or constraints.
Identify potential risks and roadblocks and how they will be managed or mitigated. This prepares both parties for any challenges that may arise, making it easier to navigate them when they do.
By carefully considering these elements, your MAP becomes a comprehensive guide that aligns expectations, tracks progress, and measures success, thus improving sales performance. It serves as a strong foundation for a profitable and long-lasting business relationship.
Mutual Action Plan Template
The MAP template sets the stage for sales reps and buyers to sync up and chart a clear path forward. This template isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. Tailor the sections to fit the unique needs of each customer partnership.
- Task: List each task or action item required to move the sale forward.
- Responsibility (Buyer/Seller): Identify whether the buyer or seller (or both) is responsible for each task.
- Deadline: Specify the deadline for each task.
- Status: Track the status of each task as not started, in progress, or completed.
|Task 1||(Buyer/Seller)||MM/DD/YYYY||Not Started/In Progress/Completed|
|Task 2||(Buyer/Seller)||MM/DD/YYYY||Not Started/In Progress/Completed|
|Task 3||(Buyer/Seller)||MM/DD/YYYY||Not Started/In Progress/Completed|
Common Pitfalls to Mutual Action Plan Implementation
Implementing a mutual action plan is not a walk in the park. You’re getting folks from two different worlds to join a shared mission.
The good news? Being aware of common pitfalls can help you steer clear of them.
- Sticking to the timeline: If a deadline slips, it can have a ripple effect on the whole project. So it’s essential to keep everyone accountable for hitting those milestones. Set reminders, schedule check-ins, and keep the lines of communication open.
- Incorporating all relevant data: Data is critical to making informed decisions. You’re at a disadvantage if you’re not working with complete information. Always gather all the necessary data points and input before moving forward with the next steps in your plan.
- Adoption: Creating a MAP is only part of the battle. The next challenge is getting everyone on board to use it. This is where sales team onboarding and coaching can make a significant impact. A well-coached sales team is more likely to adopt and implement the MAP.
- Overcomplication: While including every little detail in your MAP might be tempting, managing it can be challenging. Focus on what’s most important and streamline wherever possible.
- Ignoring stakeholder input: Ignoring input from stakeholders can backfire. Include everyone’s feedback and address concerns to ensure a smooth implementation process.
Mutual Action Plan Best Practices
While a mutual action plan provides an essential foundation, its usefulness comes to light when your sales team members know how to utilize it. Equipping your team with the necessary training and enablement is not just beneficial—it’s crucial.
As you roll out the MAP to your sales team, consider the following best practice recommendations:
Introducing the MAP at the outset of the sales process establishes a framework for collaboration. It allows both parties to understand the road ahead, ensuring alignment.
Ensure it is mutual
A MAP is a joint success plan and must be mutually agreeable to foster trust between buyer and vendor.
Focus on outcomes
While tasks are the steps to achieve an objective, the outcomes measure success. Focus on defining precise, measurable results that both parties agree to. This shifts the perspective from mere activity to generating value.
Single source of truth
Position the MAP as the primary reference document for all salespeople involved in the sales cycle. This unified approach minimizes confusion and ensures everyone operates with the same understanding.
Review and update
As the sales process evolves, periodically reviewing and updating the MAP makes a considerable impact. Regular check-ins between the buyer stakeholders and sales team allow for forecasting the future and making adjustments based on feedback and changing circumstances.
Presenting the MAP to the customer early in the sales process allows for their insights and feedback, ensuring that the plan is genuinely collaborative and considers all perspectives.
Incorporating these best practices will enhance the utility of your MAP, ensuring it not only guides the sales process but also strengthens the relationship between buyer and seller.
Ready to Transform Your Sales Process with Real-Time Collaboration?
Incorporating a MAP into your sales process is not just a strategy; it’s an investment in clarity, buyer engagement, and shared success. It simplifies the complexity of the B2B buying journey, ensuring that buyers and sellers are on the same page, moving toward a common goal with defined roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
Infusing collaboration into every sale leads to satisfied customers and successful sales teams. So don’t wait—embrace the MAP today with Highspot and pave the way for more mutually beneficial sales journeys. Schedule your Highspot demo today for a real-time mutual success plan!