Sales Coaching Tips: Mutual Plans & Deal Certainty

By Elay Cohen
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When we use mutual plans in our sales pursuits to sell with champions and to validate next steps with economic buyers, magic happens. We increase our win-rates, deal certainty and forecast accuracy. Our champion’s willingness to co-create and co-own a mutual plan is the ultimate leading indicator that our deals will close. A mutual plan is an agreed set of action items co-created and co-owned by a buyer and seller to achieve a defined customer goal and written in customer’s own words. A mutual plan is a set of steps required to get a project started and make a project successful. It’s about your customer’s desired outcome.

Mutual plan is a term that goes by many labels. Here are some other names teams use to describe a mutual plan:

  1. Close Plan
  2. Mutual Plan
  3. Go-live Plan
  4. Joint Action Plan
  5. Success Plan

and many more.

The most impactful mutual plan label is one that your champion and economic buyer use internally. When introducing the idea of a mutual plan find out what the internal name of the project is and call it that. One of the best emails or texts we get from our champions in a sales process (besides the signed purchase agreement) goes something like this:

Hey, I updated the dates and owners of our mutual plan, let me know what you think before I send it to the team today at noon?

There’s much to learn from this text. Relationship is close and personal. The text is personalized. The seller and buyer have entered a realm of texting and personalized greetings. Don’t assume the text relationship. It’s a communication privilege that’s earned. Champion is very engaged. The champion is rolling up their sleeves to collaborate and work together. The buyer and seller are a team and they are both motivated to win. The mutual plan is co-owned. When champions update mutual plan dates, owners and deliverables and use pronouns like “our” you know co-ownership is happening. It’s not your plan, it’s now our mutual plan. Urgency Is buyer driven. Using the dates and deliverables in the mutual plan is a surefire way to uncover a customer’s compelling event. It’s their project and their timeline not yours. There is trust. When a relationship exists between a buyer and seller and the buyer is asking for help and advice before an internal meeting with a decision making team and an economic buyer, trust exists.

Tips To Closing Deals Faster With Mutual Plans

  1. Introduce the mutual plan early in the sales process
  2. Salespeople shouldn’t own all actions of a mutual plan
  3. Use a document type or system to collaborate that’s preferred by your champion
  4. Make the mutual plan action oriented
  5. Action items on the plan go beyond signing the PO
  6. The mutual plan should answer the question why the deal won’t happen

If a customer pushes back and says they aren’t ready to co-create and discuss a mutual plan, don’t be discouraged. There’s a reason why they’re pushing back. Be curious and find out why they aren’t ready. Maybe the champion isn’t really your champion? Ask yourself, what do you we still need to do in sales process? If your champion isn’t ready to “red-line” a mutual plan they are most likely not ready to “red-line” a commercial agreement. As you look at your pipeline, as yourself, how are you doing co-creating mutual plans with your champions and economic buyers?

You can request access to SalesHood to get coaching videos and templates to share best practices about how, why and when to use mutual plans. Make mutual plans part of your sales process, training/onboarding and forecast discipline.

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