How to Use a Mutual Action Plan to Close More Deals (+ Free Template)
We have all had a deal we thought was a sure thing that ended up falling apart. Clients miss deadlines. Communication dries up. Contract negotiations hit a brick wall.
We have definitely been there, done that—got the t-shirt.
Then, we developed a cheat sheet to speed up our sales cycle and close deals faster.
In the sales world, this cheat sheet is known as a Mutual Action Plan (MAP). Thanks to this document, every sales rep at Close (and the clients in their pipeline) knows their role, responsibilities, actions, and timelines to get shit done and get their deal over the finish line.
Want to build a MAP of your own?
Let's go! 👇
What Is a Mutual Action Plan?
In sales rep speak, a MAP translates to: What needs to happen to get this deal done? 🤔
Think of it as a single source of truth for every deal in your pipeline. A MAP details key deadlines for deliverables like contracts and onboarding, and it has specific action items for each phase of the process to keep every deal on track.
So, why is a MAP needed? Surely this all happens during a normal sales deal anyway?
Well, yes and no.
A MAP cuts out a lot of the back and forth during a deal. Instead of a client emailing you about what information you need for a contract or when a team training session will take place, it's all there in the document. Along with your expectations of the customer, contract deadlines, and outcomes for each milestone.
A MAP keeps everyone accountable and makes the deal smoother for both parties.
Benefits of a Mutual Action Plan for B2B Sales Teams
That's a lotta cooks in the kitchen.
The more decision-makers there are, the more chance there is of a deal getting derailed because of delays and miscommunication. B2B buying journeys are complex and there are a lot of chances for wires to get crossed. Just take a look at this example journey from Gartner:
B2B buyers expect live demos, group debates, and board reviews before they make a purchase decision.
The goal of a MAP is to show your client that you have the experience and knowledge to fix their problem and set them up with your product without any interruption to their normal day-to-day business. It outlines when demos will happen, what outcomes are expected, and who is responsible for what.
Any MAP worth its salt will:
- Encourage better communication with clients. MAPs keep everyone on the same page. From the start of the deal, your client and selling team know their responsibilities along with the timelines and objectives they need to hit to get a contract signed without roadblocks.
- Highlight what's important for customers (and what's not). MAPs are created with your client, so your team will get important insights into their goals and expectations to help close the deal. On the back of this information, you can build out a joint execution plan.
- Give every deal consistency and accountability. MAPs set specific objectives and action items to keep everyone accountable. Once your team has used MAPs for a while, it can tweak them to create consistency for every deal in your pipeline. No more missed milestones or deadlines.
At the end of the day, MAPs can play a key role in winning client trust and overcoming objections. Prove you can solve a client's problem and that your product is the right solution, and the deal is 99 percent in the bag. A MAP is just a tool to boost buyer engagement and make the process a whole lot smoother.
Mutual Action Plan Template (Free Download)
Want to get a head start on creating your own MAP document for sales? Add this mutual action plan template to your workflow and watch your sales increase. 🚀
This MAP template can be adjusted for different use cases, and allows you to personalize your own mutual action plan with your customers. Use this template to create a recapped version of the journey your customers will take from interested prospects to happy, engaged customers. Think of it as a closing plan for your sales team and your prospect’s team to work on jointly.
Simply open the Google Sheet link above, make a copy, and customize it to your needs!
What Elements Does a MAP Include?
Every sales team's process is different.
The great thing about MAPs is they can be customized to suit any buyer journey and industry. But like any good recipe, a successful MAP will have a couple of core ingredients. Here are five elements every MAP should have 👇
Objectives are outcomes that both parties aim to achieve through the sales process. Each objective that makes it into the plan should be specific, tied to the client's goals, and if necessary, have a timeline to measure customer success.
Example: Increasing revenue, improving customer satisfaction, or reducing operating costs.
Actions are specific tasks each party must tick off a list before the deal can close. These are assigned to sales reps and your client to ensure tasks are completed in the right order (e.g., contract negotiation and budget needs to be settled before onboarding takes place).
Example: Scheduling onboarding training for the customer's team members or giving product demos to overcome any last-minute objections.
Each milestone and action item in the plan must be assigned to someone, either on your sales team or on the client's end. If not, the deal can get delayed and slow down the sales cycle. Ask your client to put someone in charge of assigning responsibilities on their end so when the MAP is signed off, the right people can get to work on their tasks.
Example: A sales rep who is in charge of sending the client product specifications, training materials, or approving contracts/proposals.
A MAP timeline details specific close dates and deadlines for each action and milestone to be completed. Think of it as a single source of truth for the entire deal. A timeline will state when contracts should be finalized, when onboarding will happen and if there are any post-deal responsibilities (like measuring ROI or metrics) on your end.
The timeline also keeps your client motivated and focused during the deal if things get tough. They can see how long everything is expected to take and help them keep their eye on the prize.
Example: The deal will close on Friday, March 6th and the annual contract fee must be settled by midday on this date.
5. Metrics and Forecasting
Finally, include any specific metrics and KPIs to track during and after the deal to help your client measure progress. The metrics will depend on discussions with your client before the MAP is finalized, but they're usually tied to ROI, productivity, or the overall value your product will add to their business.
Example: The number of new customers captured, true ROI of the product after 6 months of use, or overall revenue generated since the deal closed.
These five key components of a MAP ensure alignment and accountability between both parties and enable your team to create a buyer-centric experience for your clients.
Now you've got the ingredients for your MAP sorted, it's time to get cookin' 🔥
How to Use a Mutual Action Plan to Close Deals Faster
MAPs have hacks and processes to make them more impactful on your team's selling game. Here are five tips we recommend putting into place to make your MAP successful:
1. Break the Sales Process Down into Clear Steps
Each step and action item in the MAP should be crystal clear. We're talking about describing the outcome and deliverables, and allocating each task to a specific person. Doing so will help the deal run smoothly and avoid the dreaded "who is in charge of getting this done?"
We recommend you build the process out around your client's needs. Do this by:
- Asking them what they need to make the deal a success. This could be things like contract negotiations or product demos, or speeding up implementation so they can put changes into place quickly. Creating a plan around the client's goals will help you streamline discussions and build trust with them by showing you care about their success criteria.
- Involving key stakeholders as soon as the MAP kicks off. Get your clients (especially those who will write the checks) involved from the beginning so you understand their expectations and timelines.
Sales teams may even find a tool like CRM useful to break down the MAP process into stages. Using a tool like Close, teams can create action items and milestones within each MAP stage, like contract negotiations and onboarding, to give full transparency to both parties.
This also has another benefit: the client won't constantly contact you to ask what's next or who is in charge of what. It's all in front of them on the MAP pipeline. Sales leaders can focus on closing the deal instead of spending all their time replying to emails.
2. Assign Responsibilities and Milestones to Keep the Focus on Actions
A key part of any MAP is assigning specific responsibilities to everyone involved in the deal to help improve accountability and prevent delays.
For example, an account executive can be put in charge of talking with the main stakeholder from the client's company to prevent crossovers in communication. Or any tech questions can be passed directly to a sales engineer to get them sorted quickly so the deal isn't stalled.
Focus on what actions need to be taken and who will be in charge of doing them rather than just discussing goals and objectives to keep the deal flowing.
3. Share a Copy of the MAP with All Stakeholders
Remember how we said earlier that B2B deals can have up to 10 stakeholders involved on a customer's side?
That's a lot of people to keep up to date on a deal's progress and milestones. Rather than using email or meetings to keep everyone in the loop, a living document like a spreadsheet or project management updates everyone in real-time.
This document can look something like this:
Each task and milestone has key dates attached, as well as who is responsible and what outcome it'll achieve. But if you share this document with everyone involved in the deal, they can track progress on their own time without having to reach out over email or Zoom.
Sharing the MAP at the beginning of the deal can also stop the "too many cooks in the kitchen scenario." Everyone has a chance to have their input on due dates, outcomes, and milestones before the plan is created. It's then harder for the buying team to push back on timelines or make additional demands, as there is already a solid agreement in place. This keeps the deal on track and can help minimize the dreaded scope creep.
4. Create a Mutual Action Plan Template to Standardize Your Process
After you have used a MAP with a couple of clients, we recommend creating a template to speed up the buying process for future deals.
It's important that there is one standardized Mutual Action Plan template used by your entire team, not different plans used by each sales rep, to keep your process consistent. Design the MAP so it can be customized and tweaked depending on your client's industry, goals, timeline, and deal size.
Don't spend weeks on this or overthink it. Make a rough Google Doc or Notion template so your team can input ideas and suggestions on improving the MAP based on their experiences with clients so far. When you have a rough format, keep it in a place (like a shared folder) where every salesperson can access it and deploy it on their next deal.
5. Review and Update Your MAP Regularly
Finally, review and update the MAP regularly.
The MAP is a work in progress, and it should get more streamlined and effective the more you use it in real-life deals. With regular reviews, you can make adjustments so it's more effective on the next deal.
We recommend bringing in your sales team and getting their input on this step. After all, they are the ones in the weeds with clients and can pinpoint where a MAP works effectively and which sections need to be tweaked.
Close Deals Faster and Build a MAP with Your Clients
MAPs can improve your win rate, cut down the length of your sales cycle, and build trust with customers.
Just remember, for a MAP to really help a deal progress, it needs to have buy-in from both parties. As much as a MAP is a roadmap for the timeline and milestones in a deal, it also creates trust and gives your client a better buying experience. This document allows you to get off on the right foot and let them know you are on their side from the start of the deal to the moment they sign that contract.
Get input from your team. Create and tweak MAPs together to turn them into mutual success plans. And use this simple but powerful process to close deals in your pipeline faster 🤝