What is a Mutual Action Plan (MAP)?
In the world of B2B sales, a Mutual Action Plan is a shared document (usually a collaborative spreadsheet or doc) that outlines how a selling and buying organization will solve a problem together.
First made popular by top reps at enterprise SaaS companies, they have been picked up across industries because they improve win rates and build better relationships.
Both teams use the Mutual Action Plan or “MAP “as a source of truth for all steps, resources, and requirements needed to validate, onboard, and see value from the seller.
Sellers should provide a doc or shared space with some structure to guide them, but it should be co-authored by both the buying and selling teams making it truly mutual.
Why Should I Use a Mutual Action Plan?
Buying software is more complex today than ever before. According to Gartner:
- The typical buying group for B2B SaaS includes 6-10 decision makers.
- The buying journey isn’t linear. Often, buyers and sellers need to revisit steps multiple times during evaluation.
- Buyers have a problem to solve, they aren’t looking to be qualified. “Buyers value suppliers that make it easier for them to navigate the purchase process.”
But there’s hope...You CAN lead a horse to water.
1. Enable champions to sell on your behalf
Your champion will answer a lot of questions to get buy-in from their team. This is nearly impossible if they don't understand the process, or have the right resources at the right time. A great mutual action plan enables them with the right actions and resources to get a deal done - and makes it as easy as possible.
Things they might need:
- Case studies of similar use cases
- Pricing for leadership team
- API info for IT
- Security and compliance docs
- An overview of the process
- Requirements for implementation
2. Engage all the right stakeholders
There are more people than ever involved in the buying process. Assuming your champion even knows who to involve (they don't), those teams have their own set of competing priorities. Failing to identify and engage these stakeholders is one of the main reasons deals get delayed or stall completely. A great mutual action plan identifies the right people and engages them with the information they need to work with you.
3. Understand the technical requirements early
Your buyer may clearly understand the value you can bring and be very interested in working with you. Unfortunately, often they don't even understand the technical elements or effort involved in making that dream a reality. By communicating and identifying technical requirements early in the process, you can avoid running into roadblocks that would only surface after months of hard work on a deal.
4. Establish a mutual timeline
Without a clear understanding of the evaluation process and the steps involved, you and your champion can't have a meaningful conversation about a realistic timeline.
If you don't align on timeline, you lose control of your deal and are simply hoping for the best. Time kills all deals. The best reps co-create a plan and get commitment on timing.
5. Forecast with absolute certainty
Your champion tells you everything looks great; your rep gets ‘happy ears’ and calls it a deal. Yet every quarter-end you’re scrambling and making accommodations to get those deals over the line and hit your commit. If you want to know for sure that things are going as planned, you have to start with a (mutual) plan. Knowing which deals are actually in-play allows you to spend time and resources on the right deals.
How to Create a Mutual Action Plan
Every Mutual Action Plan is different in the focus and level of detail, but any great MAP will contain the key aspects below.
The first time you introduce your Mutual Action Plan to your buyer it should be relatively blank, and on that call you start to fill in the details. It’s co-authored and worked through by both parties making it truly mutual.
Depending on the complexity of the deal and relationship, Sales people either spend the last 15 minutes of their call filling out the plan - or - have an entire meeting dedicated to it.
1. Align on value, desired outcomes, and goals
Your MAP should showcase your understanding of what your buyer is trying to solve for and what’s required to solve it. Buying teams also don’t always agree on the problem. Make sure everyone is on the same page about what you’re trying to solve and how by including these details in your MAP and getting approval from their team. Once you have alignment on the problem you can then add to your MAP how you help solve it. You can have a stellar product, but deals are still lost at the finish line if everyone can’t digest how you’re going to solve their problems and add value.
2. Identify project owners and stakeholders
MAPs need to contain who your stakeholders are, and also act as a discovery aid to help find out who’s-who while creating the MAP with your buyer. If you already know the general titles of the folks you need to speak to, having those pre-filled into your MAP helps start the stakeholder conversation.
3. Define milestones & assign owners to steps
Don’t set expectations and get alignment on just the next step. Have a proposed set of steps and milestones that you can walk your buyer through and get alignment on early. Get a timeline in place and spot roadblocks way ahead of time. Once you have the journey laid out, assign the relevant stakeholders to each step so it’s clear who’s responsible for what to drive accountability and buy in on both sides.
4. Include helpful resources
Everyone hates digging through email threads and your website to find resources.
Make it easy for your buyer to find the relevant documents they need in your MAP from case studies, API Docs to your W9.