Why Collab Center for Buyers Is the Gold Standard of Sales
Recently, I was asked to join two meetings with customers that were about Mutual Action Plans.
The first customer needed help with a MAP worth $800K. The second call was from someone working on a deal that would be worth about ten million dollars, which is quite significant.
Together, we spent about an hour in each session and he did his homework to add detail to the outline.
I started to think about why my customers were giving me their time. Im fun, but thats not the only reason they come to see me.
I was hired because they thought I could help them get the business outcome that they wanted. There was a lot of money on the table, and anything would be worth it to stack the odds in their favor.
It was hard for me to hear the same objection from sales leaders and buyers over and over again: Im not sure if it will be used.
Whats the disconnect?
Why would a customer not want to work with you on solving their problem? You both think it is an issue that needs attention, and your company could solve the problem.
Thats a tough question. The answer is a better collab center for buyers with Mutual Action Plans.
Deals close faster and the average customer value of a deal with MAP vs. without jumps about 20% because customers who work with reps they trust are more likely to jump in head-first instead of starting small.
Theres a pattern of me not having any luck with diversity hiring.
- If the customer trusts you can fix their problem, they will want to work with you.
- Its difficult to get the customer on board.
When you look at the challenge of collab center for buyers this way, it becomes clear that there is no problem with buyers. Its an issue with reps training.
Collab center for buyers and legitimacy: a win-win situation
The only thing you need to do is show them how your product or service can solve their problems.
If you believe in your product, the other person might too.
You must believe in the product you are selling and have a deep knowledge of what your customer needs.
- In order to be successful, a company needs to have an idea of what they are going for.
- A detailed plan of how you will get to your goal.
1. A straightforward value proposition
A real value proposition is specific to each deal. It includes an acknowledged pain and specific metrics that quantify the solution youre promising. A good one incorporates both I (Immediate problem) and M (Measurable impact)
You can create a value proposition with good discovery, by understanding the customers industry and experience fixing similar problems. Then you have to get validation from them that they want your product or service.
In the beginning, it may not have to do with your product or service at all. It comes later.
2. Youll need a believable narrative.
Its not enough to just get the customer interested in your product. They need to believe that it will be delivered and at a price worth paying for.
The best way to establish credibility is with a case study. If you show that youve successfully delivered for other people in the past, then customers can believe that they will get what they need too.
Collaboration is a key to success, and its the reason were successful.
The rep says to the buyer: You and I agree that youd like this value prop or future state. We have success stories where we achieved something similar with other companies, so can I show how it would work for your company too?
The customer is given a chance to collaborate and we break the journey into digestible milestones, which proves that they can deliver.
Theyre debunking the myth that selling is all about hitting quota and doing whatever it takes to make a gold standard sale. They show buyers they care by helping them succeed, not just closing the deal.
A good success plan will help the rep early on, because it sets the expectations for their progress.
We use discovery to find out what the customer needs, we share case studies so they know that our company has experience in this area, and finally offer collaboration on a plan of action.
The best MAP guides buyer and seller through the discovery of pain, solution, paper process as well as implementation. This is the only way to demonstrate credibility in the entire sales cycle.
Reframe your representatives routines and make them simple
If reps want to win a deal, they need to be able to tell the customer how it will happen. If customers dont believe them, then there is no value prop.
They need to have in-depth case studies with specific details so that the buyer can see for themselves if there are any hidden gotchas.
When it comes to buyer collaboration, the MAPs that facilitate this are useless if reps dont believe in them. Buyers will be able to tell when they think a rep thinks something is pointless and so even if they offer any sort of map, buyers wont trust them.
Its up to RevOps and sales management to instill that belief. Successfully doing so relies on reinforcement, appealing to reward centers and a little bit of stick. We could go deep into what makes people believe things but instead, lets talk about practical outcomes and jump right in with how you can make a change.
Have a MAPs Training Session
When you introduce the MAPs strategy to your team, be explicit about what it is and have them participate in a training session. Talk about how they will benefit from this process as well as dispel any misconceptions that people may think of when hearing MAP. Break down each action step during the presentation.
Heres a deck that can help you with your Lunch & Learn events.
Make a MAP template for your Reps
Its stressful for most reps when they have to start from scratch. They need a routine, and its easier just not to bother.
The easiest way to start is by introducing two or three templates. The simplest thing to do would be splitting them up based on deal size (ENT vs MM) and New Logo vs Expansion. Some teams might have different templates depending on the value prop or industry, but for this first round keep it simple.
Make sure your templates are simple, dont make them too complex. And you shouldnt end on contracts even if someone else takes over the deal.
Create an easy go, low no introduction flow.
Salespeople dont like hearing the word no. They will avoid any situation that might cause a customer to say it.
When reps are reluctant to share a MAP, theyre worried that the customer will say no. If you train your team with low-pressure introductions and dont scare them off, then its more likely for them to ask if they can show their MAP.
In the second or third meeting, have your sales rep show a visual timeline of what their path to success looks like. The last milestone should be when they achieve that value prop.
The key is to never refer to this as the Mutual Action Plan. Its not mutual at this point, but if you share that image and then offer to collaborate on a personalized version for their unique situation, it will be easier.
Utilize MAPs anytime you check a transaction.
One complaint from individual contributors is that their managers make them create MAPs, but no one in management ever looks at it. Its demoralizing for the rep and makes them feel like theyre wasting time.
If you take the time to create a MAP for deal inspections, then it will be easier to improve your marketing skills. The more reviews, the better.
The next time youre in a meeting with your sales team, remind them how much it sucks to prepare for their QBRs the night before and how good theyll feel when all thats left is turning up at work on Monday morning.
Reps are used to filling in the CRM and they dont care where their information goes. The key is not asking reps do repeat work in more than one place, like both the MAP and CRM.
Acknowledge when youre finished
Talk to your team about how much peace of mind and security there is when they know that either everything has been done or a plan for doing it exists.
With open MAPs, reps can see whats left for them this week and know there are no unknown tasks. One potential problem is having too many open MAPs on separate spreadsheets.
If youve presented a good value prop and the customer doesnt want to collaborate, there are only two possibilities.
The first reason that you might have failed to close a deal was that your value proposition wasnt good enough. You may not be talking with the right person, or they didnt find it important enough.
Go back and check your value proposition to see if its been validated. If the customer is no longer interested, find a new prospect.
The second possibility is that they like the value proposition in principle, but dont believe you can make it happen. This isnt a bad thing because if they like the idea of what we offer, then they want to believe and will work with us.
If you are trying to make a gold standard sale, remember that with more than one person on the buying committee, it is important for multiple people in your company to go through this process.
The problem with this is that theres no time to train employees on how to introduce a MAP.
The best time to introduce your MAP is right when the customer believes in what you are trying to offer them.
More recently, there has been a shift in the use of MAPs. A decade ago they were only used for big enterprise deals and was just seen as a checklist of steps to go through before signing on the dotted line.
In the past five years, as customer expectations have changed and more of a collaborative service is required from vendors, MAPs are starting earlier and going longer.
You know what steps need to be taken for a successful discovery, proof of concept, value analysis, and contract. You know which roles need to be engaged in order for it all to work out successfully. But your customer doesnt; they dont have the knowledge you do about this process so make their lives easier by demonstrating how working with you will give them no surprises.
The turning of the wheels
For me, it was a rep who had faith in their manager and wanted to take the risk of trying something new. They were rewarded with a gold standard sale for taking that chance.
The customer and the rep both worked together to solve a problem, so they were able to fix it.
Instead of doubting that buyers are interested in our MAP, ask yourself if you have the tools and belief set to make your gold standard sale happen.
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