January 19, 2023
9 steps to getting it together
The only thing better than being the person who has it all together, is being the person who has someone else do it for them. This is what your buyer wants, and the reason they’ll choose you and not someone else who makes them do the work.
The good news is this isn’t just another Mutual Action Plan article. This is a quick and easy guide to getting your sh*t together, and making you look like a rockstar in the process.
Being in marketing though, we clearly do not have our sh*t together, and so we asked someone who really does. Gal Aga, our esteemed CEO agreed to let us in on the MAP secrets and even provided a step-by-step playbook, packaged neatly and ORGANIZED into one compact article. (And it only cost us 3 lunches, 2 breakfasts, and a promise to walk his dog every morning.)
While the marketing team is out walking Winston, here are a few simple steps that will get you ready to create a Mutual Action Plan, ensuring you’ll close your deals faster and make your sales quota. Here goes:
Ensure you and your prospect are in alignment about the prospect’s needs and the value that is expected from your solution. Building a MAP is the next step in the relationship of a complex deal. If we’re looking to establish a plan, together, of how we both invest significant time and effort in a multi-step process, there has to be a clear value defined that we’re both working to achieve. Otherwise, what’s the point? Don’t expect too much commitment from your prospect to follow a mutual action plan if they don’t yet fully know how partnering with you and your company is going to bring clear value for their business, and for them. You shouldn’t invest too much effort either if you don’t have certainty that your prospect has a need and acknowledges the value that you can deliver. So… start your MAP conversation with value validation, and if it’s not clear, continue working on clarifying it before diving any deeper into the process.
Understand if there’s a predefined timeline that your prospect would like to work towards and achieve X value by. More importantly, understand what’s driving that timeline; a compelling event, a goal that your prospect wants to reach, a budget that has to be spent by a certain date, etc. If there’s no predefined timeline, help your prospect get more clarity on the impact that your solution could provide, and from there try to establish a timeline where having a solution in place would be ideal. Once you have a timeline defined, this would be the date of ‘value delivery’ in your mutual plan and from there you could work backward to establish the rest of the steps and timelines.
Many sales executives fall in love with their process a bit too much. While the reality is that the buyer’s journey is a) not as linear as the sales process, b) has constraints that are not part of your process, and c) changes as you go. Other reps take it to the other extreme of only asking about what the buyer wants to do, which then leads to either a) too much work on both sides, b) stalled deals, or c) missing important steps or stakeholders which results in lost deals.
The magic happens when you demonstrate leadership and show your prospect that you know how to help them successfully go through this buying project, give them reassurance that you’ve done this before and that your sales process is going to be the fastest and most effective way for them to buy. At the same time, show them that you are aware that they might have different requirements and constraints internally by listening to what they had in mind, and what’s important for them. The right combination of coaching on the process, with understanding theirs, is where ideal plans are built.
Identify all stakeholders who will be involved in the buying process. Knowing who will be involved before closing your plan ensures you and your prospect can establish the right steps to follow, who should be looped in, and where. For example, understanding that a certain solution needs to also get a green light from a VP in a different department, would allow you to suggest that you’d have that person join in early to see a demo and share requirements/needs, instead of entering too late in the process.
Set expectations for how you will work together throughout the process. This should include expectations around where you’ll communicate, deadlines, and specific tasks that need to be completed. For example, if you provide a proof of concept during your sales process, a typical alignment of expectations would be to start only after success criteria have been fully defined and agreed on. The stage of building the MAP is ideal for that kind of expectation set, as it is when you’re both working on achieving alignment and mutual accountability.
This step is imperative because it will help you and your prospect stay organized and on track. Having the steps written down is important, but make sure you don’t go too granular or it will become a burden to manage and might demotivate your prospect. The ideal way to solve this is to break things down into milestones, tasks, and subtasks. Send X File is a subtask, a Proof of Concept is a milestone, and Plan PoC is a task.
This will help you and your prospects stay on track and make sure all the tasks are completed on time. You don’t have to set timelines and owners for everything. Having timelines set for milestones is a must, for tasks is helpful, but for subtasks would be an overkill. You can write who owns a task, but unless a subtask owner is different and needs that visibility, you don’t have to go that deep.
Have a deck, spreadsheet, or better – a collaborative workspace. This will help you and the customer stay informed and make sure the process is running smoothly. If you go through all of that alignment to then let all information only sit in your notes, it’s definitely not going to help you and your prospect work as fast and smoothly as you could.
This step is key because it will ensure that you and the prospect are both on the same page and that everything is running smoothly. You can bring up the plan during follow-up calls, or/and communicate on top of it a-synchronically if your system is collaborative. Both work great. A MAP almost never stays unchanged. Buying processes and timelines constantly change as deals progress. Also, people forget what’s been discussed. Make sure you keep using your MAP as a tool that helps both sides sync throughout the deal process and stay Aligned.
Hopefully, these steps will help you start leveraging MAPs in your deals. If you’re still unsure how to approach it, just think of it as a more structured way of establishing the next steps and start small. It doesn’t have to be perfect on your first attempt. Even asking the questions, discussing a plan, and documenting it in a shared space is better than just going with the flow and tackling the next steps as you discover them. Slowly, you’ll get better at doing this and win more deals, faster.
A MAP may not always result in deal closure, but its probability of success is greater. Prospects are three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret when suppliers provide information perceived as helpful in advancing the purchase process.
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