One of the best ways to build credibility with your champion, and turn your champion into a buyer (hopefully long term a repeat buyer) is to arm your champion with a Mutual Action Plan (also called a close plan, mutual evaluation plan, MAP, etc.).
A concrete buying plan helps your champion:
We interviewed 11 AEs at leading B2B SaaS companies like Heap, Gong, and Drift for advice on building effective mutual evaluation plans.
Stealing words of wisdom from the Head of Sales at dbtlabs, Becca Lindquist - "Surprises are for Birthdays". Map out your champion’s knowledge of the purchase process, so your aren't blindsided by what your champion does/does not know aout the procurement process. Many buyers may be navigating their procurement process for the first time. "If you can't walk through every step of the procurement process with your champion, you'll get a surprise, and not the good kind."
As their sales rep, you are the expert in buying. Make sure you’ve mapped out the common pitfalls such as procurement teams, legal reviews, security reviews, and identifying the deal signer. Last, but not least, the executive buyer needs to be involved in the mutual action plan. Tools like Accord and Dock offer great platforms to help standardize mutual action plans and share those critical executive summaries with the budget holder and decision maker.
Dane Running shares the most common steps to include when reviewing the close plan with your champion:
Make sure your close plan includes customer value like when they will meet their CSM and implementation and kick off timelines. Going back to our webinar with Sterling Snow, the best and most effective way to drive alignment is to comp on the next step of the funnel. The same philosophy holds true for mutual action plans - although you will be rewarded at the signing, you will be able to drive alignment if you benchmark on the next stage of the buying process: delivering value to the customer.
Evan Cassidy at Drift sums it up nicely: “Create a workback plan that's tied back to value. Most work back plans end with the signature date but that's focused on you! Make sure to take the time and provide detail and the high level steps you will take to drive the GO LIVE date so the customer can see the value point of the timeline.”
You want to hold true to your commitments, but make sure that hold your customer accountable as well. Just as you should be hitting your timelines and holding firm on expired discounts, make sure your champion is not letting things slip, or blocking multi-threading (if they are - they probably are not your champion).
Holding your customer accountable can be tricky because you don’t want to alienate your customer by being too pushy. Communication is key. As the deal gets closer to close, share the plan with your prospects twice a week - at beginning & end to track progress. This makes it easier to challenge your champion if things start to slip. Mike Magee shares his advice on this tricky conversation:
“Ideally, communicate any challenge/slippage using the customers’ own words - rephrase emails or phone conversations with your customers."
Tools like Gong. can help make sure you can capture the customers’ words exactly, and by using your customers’ words you show you were really listening and it’s hard it makes it impossible for your customers to refute.