Imagine a deal where every step has been confirmed by the customer. A deal where the close date is the same date forecast in Salesforce, and where there are no surprises from a new stakeholder at the last minute.
That’s the promise of a Mutual Action Plan (MAP), a document shared between the seller and the buyers detailing everything that each side must do to make the deal happen.
The challenge lies in that “M” for “Mutual.”
Although 85% of enterprise customers say they’d love to understand the steps ahead of them—and at DealPoint, we see 70% of buyers engage with the MAPs shared with them—the biggest concern we hear from reps is that customers might not use the MAP, and that it could be a waste of time.
So we surveyed hundreds of MAP users and identified four key actions the best teams take to make their MAPs irresistible to their buyers. Let’s take a look.
1. Share a MAP to fix their problem, not sell your thing
The most important change to your MAP starts in your mind. A MAP (or any sales asset really) only gets used when it’s solving a buyer’s problem, so your reps have to think of it as a tool for your buyer to fix their problem, not buy your thing.
In practice, instead of ending on contracts—which is a date that’s important to you— extend your MAP out to the Time to Value date. By working through the date where your customer realizes value, you create a tool that incentivizes the buyer because it’s rooted in their terms and priorities.
Seller-Centric Side Benefit:
In addition to getting your MAP used by your buyers, knowing these customer-centric dates creates urgency and a clear value proposition. Perhaps even more importantly, it forces your team to ask the right questions to discover the problem your customer needs fixed, when it needs to be fixed, and what will happen if it doesn’t get fixed.
2. Share at the right time
Conventional wisdom says to introduce the MAP after the verbal “yes”, just as you head into the paper process. However, introducing the MAP earlier leads to higher engagement.
In discovery, show an example MAP to feature a typical implementation process. You’re not asking anything of the buyer at this point, just showing them roughly what to expect and proving that you’ve done this before.
Once they’ve seen the example, you can suggest in the next meeting to adapt that model MAP for their situation. This serves as a nice trial close; if they say no, then you haven’t yet proven your value proposition sufficiently.
But when they do say yes, you’ve got an agreement to use the MAP that you can hold them to later.
3. Keep it high level... with discoverable details
Because your MAP solves their problem, there’s a good chance it’s going to be shared with senior decision makers in the buyer’s organization. This is a positive outcome.
However, these senior stakeholders don’t have a lot of time. If you want them to use your MAP, it needs to be high level. Humans can hold eight distinct concepts in their head at once, so use that as a guide and limit your MAP to have between six and eight milestones.
By keeping it high level, your champion is more likely to share your MAP with their senior decision makers.
The caveat is that the detail must exist somewhere. Whether it’s on a second page, second tab, or a specialized platform, you need to provide the technical details of the deal. Make sure to include the people who need to be involved on both sides for each milestone, as this will also increase circulation within the buying organization.
4. Make it look good
You probably look at a lot of spreadsheets. Do you love them? Or is it an effort to figure out what the spreadsheet’s creator was trying to convey?
The purpose of a MAP is to show your credibility and your simple process. Bring in a designer, or at the very least, use different font sizes and colors to draw attention to what’s most important.
A good looking presentation makes your champion look good, which increases the likelihood that they will share it internally. Some of my favorite MAPs are Word documents. It’s still organized with a table, but it presents better, and that first impression of credible and capable will go a long way.
We’ve highlighted a couple simple changes to make your MAP irresistible. If you want to go deeper, DealPoint has looked at a lot of MAPs. Let us evaluate yours.
We’ll provide a customer-centricity score, and give specific recommendations on how to make your MAP more valuable to your customers. We’ll also show you what it looks like in DealPoint, the only platform specifically designed for sharing MAPs with customers.