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Implementing Mutual Action Plans: make your prospects succeed
Sales reps and prospects agree on one thing: B2B buying journeys are becoming increasingly complex! This reality, which is not new, has drastically intensified since covid.
The consequence? Prospects are struggling: 77% of them say their last purchase was very complex or difficult (1).
And yet, there are salespeople who are used to helping their prospects in complex buying journeys: "enterprise sales", or key account salespeople. Navigating between a champion and decision makers, juggling the validation loops of ComEx, Purchasing and Legal, that's their day-to-day business.
Their secret to managing complexity? Many of them use Mutual Action Plans to collaborate with their prospects. This is a powerful tool in practice. Provided, however, that it is handled correctly.
- "What's in it for my prospects to use a Mutual Action Plan?"
- "How can I make sure my prospects agree to use one?"
- And most importantly: "Do you have a Mutual Action Plan template?" Spoiler: yes! More info in this post.
Here are the questions we're frequently asked at Katalyz.
Prospect adoption, key to the Mutual Action Plan success?
At Katalyz, we talk to sales people and their prospects every day. And we've been struck by this observation: salespeople regularly fear that their prospects will be reluctant to use a Mutual Action Plan, whereas their prospects, for their part, are spontaneously very supportive of this type of tool.
We dug deeper to explain this discrepancy:
- On the prospects' side, the Mutual Action Plan is rapidly establishing itself as a tool that creates greater transparency in the buying journey. Buying processes are smoother and decision-making more rational. In a climate of mistrust towards salespeople (2), any initiative in favor of greater transparency is welcome in their eyes.
- On the sales side, concerns about their prospects' adoption of the Mutual Action Plan can be explained above all by their lack of familiarity with the tool. Probably because it is not yet widespread in Europe, unlike in the USA, where it is considered best practice for complex deals.
The Mutual Action Plan, a tool made for prospects
Let's put ourselves in your prospect's shoes for a moment, at the start of the sales cycle. He's interested in your solution, and you've established your credibility. So far, so good!
But no sooner have you got into gear than your prospect is caught up in reality:
- "It's just another task in my daily routine!
- "The buying process is much more complex than expected!"
- "How can I sell the project internally?"
- "If the project fails, I'll have exposed myself unnecessarily".
So many deals-breakers in the making that you put aside thanks to a well-crafted Mutual Action Plan.
Prospect reaction #1: "Still another task to manage in my daily routine!"
Yes, it's true! Getting involved in a complex deal takes time. The vast majority of B2B prospects are part of business teams and didn't wait for you to have a busy schedule. And yet, if they're talking to you, it's because they understand that your solution can help them achieve their goals.
It's up to you to be proactive in reassuring your prospects about the workload ahead. Show them that you know how to move a deal forward efficiently, and demonstrate that every minute they devote to the deal is well invested.
The Mutual Action Plan enables you to do just that. You give your prospects visibility by clearly allocating tasks according to each person's constraints and skills. Your interactions are more productive because they are better contextualized. Rather than working separately, you co-pilot the deal together from the same cockpit. This is more sustainable and reassuring for your prospects, while ensuring that they are properly engaged with you.
Prospect reaction #2: "The buying journey is much more complex than expected"
The first to suffer from the complexity of buying processes are not salespeople, but prospects themselves.
Brent Adamson, Distinguished Vice President at Gartner sums it up very well indeed:
"If it has become very difficult to sell in today's world, it has become even more difficult to buy. The biggest challenge in selling today is not selling, but the difficulty our buyers have in buying."
Bad news: this complexity is largely incompressible and will continue to grow in the coming years.
Good news: you can take action to help your prospects overcome the complexity they face.
Starting with the fact that you probably have a better grasp of your solution's buying processes than your own prospects.
Why? You've sold your solution multiple times, whereas your prospects may only buy it once in their lives.
The Mutual Action Plan is a privileged tool for guiding your prospects and passing on all the know-how you've accumulated over the course of previous sales cycles. In this way, you build a buying path that draws on your experience and adapts to their constraints. You anticipate who needs to intervene, when and on what subjects, to help your prospect make the best possible decision. Complexity is now identified, and you have a solution for every problem.
Prospect reaction #3: "How do I coordinate my internal stakeholders?"
When you're talking to a champion, there always comes a time when they have to bring technical, purchasing and safety contacts into the loop with the decision makers.
And this is where things get tricky!
On the one hand, your champion has to take up his pilgrim's staff to sell the project internally. He's going to be challenged, sometimes hard, on very specific subjects. In practice, however, they have little to convince you effectively, as they have much less expertise in the solution than you do.
What's more, he has to pass on a certain amount of information to his new contacts to "onboard" them on the deal. He often ends up digging through the long email loops exchanged with you to find a few snippets of relevant information.
As you can see, your champion often finds himself alone and helpless when it comes to "selling" the project internally. At that point, you run the risk of losing your deal. Not because the solution isn't right for your prospect, but simply because the added value of your solution isn't properly explained to decision makers.
Thanks to the Mutual Action Plan, you retain control of interactions by arming your prospects with the right elements to be convincing. They have an asset they can easily pass on to their contacts: the Mutual Action Plan. Decision-makers then quickly understand the value of the deal, where it stands and what's expected of them.
Prospect reaction no. 4: "If the project fails, I'll have exposed myself unnecessarily."
Always anticipate the "political" exposure of champions working with you on the deal. By defending your project internally, they're getting their feet wet for you. If the project fails, it will be blamed on them.
Make the Mutual Action Plan a tool for greater transparency. A better level of information for all participants means a more informed and rational decision. In other words, a less risky decision for your prospects.
Moreover the Mutual Action Plan demonstrates the seriousness of your champion's approach.
Ready to reinvent your prospects' buying experience?
As you can see, the Mutual Action Plan is a formidable tool for mastering the complexity of your sales cycles.
Using it means creating greater transparency and alignment with your prospects, so they can make informed decisions quickly.
(2) 61% of B2B buyers do NOT trust their salespeople.
Source : Forbes