What is a Mutual Action Plan (MAP)
At its core, a MAP is a shared, dynamic document between you and your prospect. It's your shared roadmap to success, tracing the path from initial contact all the way to a successful deal closure. The MAP clearly lays out key milestones, tasks, due dates, and the roles of all parties involved. It’s a tangible representation of the sales and buying journey, effectively guiding both you and your prospect towards a common goal.
When to use a Mutual Action Plan?
Mutual action plans are useful for larger deals with many stakeholders involved. That's when the extra effort to create the plan and fight for prospect buy-in is actually worth it. Skip them if you are working on small deals or have limited stakeholder complexity.
Use them for larger opportunities, typically above €20k ACV; complex deals, typically with 5+ stakeholders involved (assuming longer sales cycles); complicated onboardings, may it be for a POC or post-sale. - Read more on Linkedin
Why Use MAPs
Higher Win Rate
MAPs can be your ticket to transforming from a regular vendor to a trusted advisor in your prospect's eyes. This shift is critical, as relationships built on trust often translate into successful deals. With a MAP, you provide your prospect a transparent and guided buying journey, and this proactive approach can significantly enhance your credibility and increase your win rates.
Sales Cycle Reduction
With clarity comes speed. A MAP provides a detailed action plan with clearly defined milestones and timelines. By doing so, it paves the way for faster and more efficient decision-making, reducing the length of the sales cycle. Additionally, it minimizes the likelihood of unnecessary delays by outlining every step and ensuring that everyone involved understands their roles and responsibilities.
Accurate sales forecasting can often feel like a guessing game. However, with a MAP, your sales team can get a real-time, detailed understanding of where they stand in the deal, making forecasts more precise and reliable. This improved visibility into the sales pipeline is crucial for strategic planning and resource allocation.
Improved Buying Experience
For any successful sales process, a positive buying experience is paramount. A MAP, with its transparency and clarity, enhances the buying journey by aligning expectations and eliminating unwelcome surprises. It offers a clear vision of the path ahead, setting the stage for a smooth and enjoyable customer experience.
The Challenges With MAPs
While creating a MAP is a fairly straightforward process (see below), the real hurdle is achieving a mutual commitment from your prospect. Salespeople often find it challenging to secure their prospect’s full engagement and buy-in, making the 'mutual' part of Mutual Action Plan elusive.
AEs often struggle with “Selling the MAP” and getting the buy-in from the Champion. Instead of following their process, they start following the Champion's processes. - Read more on Linkedin
When we speak to B2B sales teams, here are some common problems with MAPs we observe and tackle in our blueprint below:
- Not selling it: You need to sell the MAP to your prospect. So use case studies, help them understand why it's useful (usually, to prevent the project from failing), and don't move forward with it if you don't have buy-in.
- One-sided planning: Remember, MAPs should be 'mutual.' Don't create the plan in isolation. Involve your prospect and get their input.
- Over-complicating things: Don't let your MAP become an intimidating document. Aim for simplicity and clarity.
- Lack of flexibility: Deals can change course, and your MAP should adapt accordingly. It's not a static document.
- Failing to update: Keep the MAP current. An outdated MAP can lead to confusion and misalignment.
The Valuecase Mutual Action Plan Blueprint
Based on our conversations with Sales and Enablement leaders across the globe, we developed a comprehensive blueprint to help you implement MAPs at scale. You can download it here.
Blueprint Part 1: Developing an Effective MAP Template
Creating a functional and effective MAP template requires a strategic approach. Here's a step-by-step guide:
Understand the Building Blocks
- Key Milestone Dates: These are the important dates for events like contract negotiations, presentations, or decision-making meetings. Clearly listing these dates in your MAP helps to keep everyone on the same page about the timeline of the deal, fostering a sense of urgency and forward momentum.
- Tasks: This section should outline each task required to achieve the milestones, along with the person responsible and the due dates. By specifying these details, you eliminate confusion and ensure accountability for each task, promoting efficient progress toward the deal closure. You also trigger useful discussions, e.g. around vacations and internal gates.
- Stakeholders: The MAP should detail every individual involved in the deal, both from your side and the prospect's. This includes the decision-makers, influencers, and any other parties who have a role in the process. By defining the key players, you ensure that everyone knows who to reach out to at each stage of the sales process.
Review Past Deals
Take a close look at your past successful deals. Identify the common patterns, key steps, tasks, meetings, and stakeholders involved. This analysis will give you valuable insights into what worked in the past and help you replicate the success.
Identify Key Elements
Based on your analysis, determine the crucial elements that need to be present in every MAP. These typically include tasks, deadlines, parties involved, success criteria, and potential risks. Remember, these elements are the pillars that will support your MAP.
Craft a Flexible MAP Template
With these insights, design a MAP template that is adaptable to various sales scenarios. A rigid template might not fit all situations, so flexibility is key. It's essential to create a template that can evolve with the deal's nuances.
Develop Guides and Tutorials
Equip your team with the knowledge to effectively use the MAP template. Develop simple guides or tutorials that explain how to fill out and use the MAP. This step ensures your team is well-versed with the tool and can utilize it to its full potential.
Start Small and Gather Feedback
Before deploying the MAP across all your deals, it's wise to start with a pilot project. Implement your MAP in a select few deals and gather feedback from your team and clients. Use this feedback to refine and optimize your MAP template.
Sales dynamics change over time, and your MAP should be capable of adapting. Regularly update your MAP template and training materials based on your team's real-world experiences. This step keeps your MAP relevant and effective in the ever-changing landscape of sales.
Blueprint Part 2: Integrating MAPs into Your Sales Process
For MAPs to work their magic, they should be integrated into every stage of your sales process:
This is the ideal stage to introduce the concept of the MAP. Share potential milestones, and use a past success story to illustrate its importance. You can also tell a story about a deal that went south because no action plan was used. This introduction will help set the stage for the MAP's role in the sales journey.
This is a key step where you work closely with your champion to draft the initial MAP. Discuss in detail the tasks, stakeholders, due dates, and potential roadblocks. This collaborative session will foster a sense of ownership and commitment from the prospect. Ask open ended questions to get your prospect thinking.
Ensure that your product demos align with the MAP. Be ready to adapt your demos based on the client's feedback and insights. This approach helps in validating the MAP and enhances the relevance of your product for the client.
Follow-ups and Proposal
Define clear next steps for each touchpoint. Regularly update the MAP and share it with your champion. This transparency helps maintain momentum and keeps everyone in the loop about the deal's progress.
This is probably the most important part: You have to identify a critical event that encourages adherence to the timeline early on. This event should ideally be a natural part of the sales process and serve as a motivation to stay on track. Typically, the target go-live is a good option for that.
Post-Sale Onboarding and Adoption
The role of the MAP doesn't end with a successful signing. It continues into the post-sale phase, guiding the onboarding and adoption processes. This way, the MAP ensures a smooth transition and helps fulfill the promises made during the sales process.
How Mutual Action Plans Work in Valuecase
To sum it up, Mutual Action Plans are powerful tools that can elevate your tech sales strategy. They promote transparency, foster trust, and pave the way for a smoother sales process. However, remember that MAPs aren't a one-time set-up. They require ongoing improvements and updates to stay effective.
If you want to learn more, follow Johannes and me on Linkedin - we regularly share advice about MAPs. And if you want to see how easy it is to set them up in Valuecase & collaborate with prospects on them, schedule a demo here.