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How To Craft a Mutual Success Action Plan in B2B Sales

Sales Training
Chris Orlob
October 26, 2023

The sales process goes far beyond cold emails and closing deals. It’s a cycle that brings prospects from problem awareness to the realization of the product value.

Value is actually the key term in the vendor-customer relationship. And for both parties to achieve it, you need a mutual success action plan.

Let’s explore what exactly this plan is and how it contributes to the B2B sales process.

What is a Mutual Success Plan?

A Mutual Success Plan (MSP), sometimes referred to as a Mutual Action Plan (MAP), is a collaborative document or framework created by both a vendor and a customer to outline shared goals, responsibilities, and milestones for a project or partnership.

The primary purpose of an MSP is to ensure that both parties are aligned in their objectives and have a clear understanding of what success looks like. Key components of an MSP typically include:

  1. Shared Objectives: Clearly defined goals that both parties aim to achieve.
  2. Roles & Responsibilities: A breakdown of what each party is expected to do.
  3. Milestones & Timelines: Key dates and deliverables to track progress.
  4. Success Metrics: Quantifiable measures to evaluate the success of the partnership.
  5. Communication Plan: How and when both parties will communicate updates, concerns, and feedback.

By establishing a Mutual Success Plan, both the vendor and customer can set clear expectations, foster transparency, and work more effectively towards achieving mutual success.

How a Mutual Action Plan Benefits the Sales Process

When integrated into the sales cycle, the MAP improves it in the following ways:

  • Creates a predictable sales process. Keeping prospects engaged throughout the sales process is one of the biggest challenges for sales reps. With a clear roadmap that shows who does what and when, everyone's on the same page, and nobody gets lost in the middle of the process.
  • Boosts trust. Eighty-seven percent of business buyers want a salesperson to act as a trusted advisor, and the MAP helps to achieve this by showing you're not hiding anything and are all in for the customer's success.
  • Increases win rates. Buyers are more likely to move forward with the purchase when the buying experience is smooth and they see a clear path to achieving their desired outcomes.
  • Lays the groundwork for long-term customer relationships. 90 percent of high-performing sales teams pursue long-term relationship building over short-term wins, the MAP is a powerful customer enablement instrument.

Key Stakeholders in a Mutual Success Plan

Depending on the complexity of the deal, a MAP may involve other stakeholders, such as end-users, influencers, blockers, and executive sponsors. But the typical lineup looks like:

  • Sales leaders. Leadership sets the strategic direction for the sales team and ensures alignment between the project plan and the organization's strategy.
  • Sales reps. They’re on the front lines, responsible for executing the mutual action plan. Their priorities are understanding customer needs and delivering on commitments.
  • Champions (buying team). These are advocates for the vendor's product or service within the customer's organization. Champions are usually the first to articulate the need for the product in question. Their buy-in is crucial.
  • Decision makers (buying team). The B2B buying process typically involves six to 10 decision makers. And all these people have the authority to sign off or reject the purchase. 

Where to Start With a Mutual Success Action Plan

The Sales Playbook

A sales playbook is a manual that includes the best practices, standard procedures, workflows, and sales methodologies your team follows to achieve strategic goals. Here's how having a sales playbook in place supports the development of a MAP:

  • Understanding customer needs: A sales playbook includes information about buyer personas and customer pain points — this kind of information informs the MAP development.
  • Effective messaging: The scripts and messaging that have been proven to work in sales conversations can be used as a foundation for crafting buyer-centric messaging in the MAP.
  • Sales process alignment: The playbook typically outlines the steps of the sales process so that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when defining the MAP's timeline and milestones.
  • Consistency: Using the sales playbook ensures that the approach taken in the MAP is consistent with the overall sales strategy of the organization.

👉 This playbook has the 6 sales techniques that took Gong from $200K ARR to $200 Million ARR in just 5 Years!

Using a Mutual Action Plan Template

You don’t want to create a MAP from scratch every time. You need a template that you can tweak to fit each unique prospect, but the core stays the same.

While the exact contents will vary from case to case, these are the must-have components for your MAP template:

  • Stakeholders
  • Value summary
  • Success criteria
  • Timeline & deliverables
  • Party’s responsibilities
  • Additional resources

You can create the MAP template in your project management tool or even in Google Sheets — any solution you use in your daily sales process will work.

Streamlining with CRM and Sales Automation

To save hours of manual work and maximize your team’s productivity, it’s best to integrate your mutual success plan into your sales and customer success software. Here's how it will benefit your sales process:

  • Sync with CRM for a real-time view of customer interactions, progress, and milestone achievements.
  • Use sales forecasting tools to track the progress and success metrics outlined in your MAP and get insights into future revenue streams.
  • Automate routine tasks like data entry, follow-up emails, and appointment scheduling, so your team can focus on higher-value activities.
  • Use CRM and automation data and analytics to assess the effectiveness of your plan, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven decisions.

In short, CRM and sales automation can help you save time and resources, improve efficiency, and make better decisions.

👉 Related: 20 Sales Leadership Training Courses (Free & Paid Options)

How to Implement Your Mutual Success Action Plan

Step 1. Identify the key stakeholders

Can you already spot the champion? This person is typically a key individual within the customer's organization who is not only supportive of your product or service but also advocates for its adoption and success within their organization.

Once you've identified the champion, they can help you pinpoint the decision-maker. 

You can ask direct questions like, "Who would have the final say in moving forward with this project?" or "Are there specific individuals who need to approve this initiative?"

👉 Get past the gatekeepers more efficiently with our Slingshot method

Step 2. Define mutual success criteria

Initiate a discussion with your champion and other key stakeholders to identify and define success criteria. Then, determine the key performance metrics that will be used to measure success. These metrics should be specific to the goals of both your organization and the customer's organization.

For instance, success criteria could include:

  • Revenue growth targets
  • Cost savings and efficiency improvements
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Product adoption rates
  • Reduced time-to-market
  • Increased market share

Assign specific values or targets to each success criterion. For example, if one of the criteria is revenue growth, specify a percentage increase or a monetary target.

Map out the buying process

At the center of the joint execution plan are two processes, aligned — your sales process and your prospect’s buying process. Here’s how you streamline those:

  • Start by gaining a deep understanding of the typical steps that your buyers go through when making a purchasing decision.
  • For each stage of the buyer's journey, identify the specific needs and concerns that the buyer typically has.
  • Align your sales process with the buyer's journey. Map out how your sales team's initiatives should correspond to the buyer's needs at each stage.
  • Create a grid that outlines the key elements of your MAP based on the aligned sales process and the buyer's journey.
  • Within the grid, include additional details such as specific action items, responsible parties, due dates, and success metrics.
  • Walk your champion through the MAP draft and adjust it based on their input.

Step 3. Allocate responsibilities

Define specific roles and responsibilities for individuals on both sides of the relationship:

  • Your selling team: Specify which team members from your organization will be involved in various stages of customer engagement, such as account managers, technical support, or implementation specialists.
  • Customer's team: Identify key individuals on the customer's side who will play roles in the implementation, such as project managers, end-users, and technical contacts.

Step 4. Establish a timeline

Begin by understanding if there's a predefined timeline that your prospect would like to work towards. 

  • Do they have a specific date by which they aim to achieve ROI? 
  • What's driving that timeline? Is there a compelling event?
  • Is it a specific goal your prospect wants to reach, a budget that must be spent by a certain date, or other factors?

If there's no predefined timeline, collaborate with your prospect to help them gain more clarity on the process. Discuss potential scenarios and outcomes, and from there, work together on the timing of key dates and deliverables.

Step 5. Identify resources and support

Define the support or assistance that each party should provide to achieve the project's goals.

For example, your team may offer technical support or training, while the customer's team may provide access to internal data.

Step 6. Anticipate roadblocks

Insufficient resources, resistance to change, infrastructure limitations, missed deadlines — boy, there are too many things that can hinder the project. You can anticipate and prevent those roadblocks by suggesting preventive measures right  in your MAP:

  • Change resistance: Address change management by including change management strategies and internal communications plans in your MAP.
  • Technical challenges: Specify technical requirements and dependencies, and develop a contingency plan for handling unexpected technical challenges.
  • Communication breakdown: Establish a robust communication framework by including communication policies, meeting schedules, and reporting mechanisms in your MAP.
  • Competing priorities: Acknowledge competing priorities and align your project timeline with the customer's availability and capacity.
  • Lack of expertise: Provide the necessary resources, documentation, and support to ensure that the customer's team gains the expertise needed to make the most of your solution.

And don’t forget to equip your sales team with the skills and techniques they’ll need to bring your MAP to success.

👉 Sometimes, the biggest roadblocks are “hmm…maybe”. We give you the complete framework for turning ‘maybe’ into ‘YES’

Step 7. Execute and monitor

  1. Roll out your plan and track progress.
  2. Set up regular meetings or check-ins with your customer.
  3. Be ready to respond to customer feedback and adjust your strategy in real-time.

Recommended: If you want to automate this process, try

Step 8. Offer support through onboarding and beyond

The mutual action plan isn’t the same as a close plan (although a lot of resources will say the opposite). While the latter is complete at the close-won stage, the MAP covers the buyer’s journey up until the moment they achieve their objectives and ROI.

As you move from the sales phase to full product adoption, the onboarding plan kicks in. It's your task to help your customer make a smooth transition.

Following the roadmap, your reps should ensure a smooth transition from the sales phase to product adoption. 

How to Measure the Success of the Plan

Metrics and success criteria

Remember those success criteria we discussed earlier? Right, these were the KPIs indicating the value of the project for the customer. 

And what about your internal performance? These internal performance metrics help you assess the effectiveness of your mutual success plan:

  • Win rates: Are you closing deals at the rate you aimed for?
  • Deal size: Are your deals getting bigger over time? 
  • Buyer engagement: How engaged are your buyers?
  • Efficiency: Are you reaching milestones on time?

Learnings and optimizations

Say, you find that your win rates are falling short of the target. To uncover the reasons behind the issue and address them, you should dig deeper.

  • Identify areas of improvement. Are there any particular stages in the sales process where you're losing prospects? Are there common objections that need addressing?
  • Adjust your messaging and MAP to address these issues. Highlight the value your product brings and tailor your strategy to directly address customer objections.

For example, if you're losing prospects during the negotiation phase because they perceive your pricing as too high, you can:

  • Enhance your pricing transparency early in the sales process.
  • Focus on showcasing the unique value your product offers during product demonstrations.
  • Offer flexible pricing options or packages that cater to different customer needs and budgets.

Bringing it to the finish line

Once the initial sale or project is complete, don't let the relationship end there. Continue to nurture and maintain your connection with the customer, as you've built a partnership, not just a one-off transaction.

As you wrap up the project, take the time to gather feedback from your customer on what went well, what could be improved, and what new challenges or goals are on the horizon. This feedback is invaluable for refining your strategies and improving future mutual success plans.

You Have the Plan, Now It’s Time to Close More Deals

The Mutual Action Plan can become a cornerstone of long-lasting customer relationships. Now it’s time to integrate the learnings from this MAP guide with the teachings of pclub’s online sales courses – allowing sales teams to expand their abilities to deliver value to customers.

Pclub’s courses are crafted by the top 0.01% of sales practitioners, globally.

It provides a comprehensive platform for sales professionals to elevate their skills and performance. This combination not only addresses the customers' needs and goals but also ensures that the sales process is fine-tuned to understand and communicate this value effectively.

With the added benefit of ongoing sales training, this approach can lead to profound results, ensuring long-lasting customer relationships and increased deal closures.

Crush it in your first 90 days as a new sales leader with my new course. 

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