How to Avoid Deal-End Fire Drills with Mutual Action Plans

George Kozlov
How to Avoid Deal-End Fire Drills with Mutual Action Plans

It’s the most painful experience in sales. You’re on the 5-yard line, knocking on the end zone. The buyer has told you they intend to sign a contract. All that’s left is completing the path to purchase…

But then, you fail “the fire drill.”

Something unexpected happens. It could be a last-minute objection from a new stakeholder who emerges from out of nowhere. Or it may be a payment compatibility hurdle you didn’t catch. Or, it could even be a simple communication breakdown. Whatever it is, the deal slips.

The reason why failing the fire drill hurts so bad isn’t just because you were so close (and yes, that’s painful enough). It’s because the breaking point is often easily avoidable. If you had anticipated it and planned for it, you and the buyer might have overcome it together easily.

That’s exactly what a mutual action plan is for. Put the right one in place, and you’ll be more prepared to react to anything the fire drill can throw your way.

What Is a Mutual Action Plan?

A mutual action plan is a document that the seller and buyer co-author. It lays out everything that both sides need to do to successfully complete the buying process.

The objective of a mutual action plan is to streamline the close and implementation processes by laying out a plan all parties can agree on while also addressing potential roadblocks right off the bat.

Sound pretty handy, right? You can download our free mutual action plan template right now. For more details on what’s included, read on below.

Why Is a Mutual Action Plan Important?

Mutual action plans are by far the best way to proactively deal with the “fire drills” that may occur between interest and close. When both parties agree on every single step taken along this journey, you will be able to:

Reduce your sales cycle

When you don’t have a plan for the time between your buyer expressing interest and the final close, that time tends to stretch out. Both you and the buyer find new obstacles you have to navigate around, which usually halts the sales cycle.

The more of these obstacles you stumble over, the longer the sales process takes, and the less likely you are to drive a deal to a successful close. Using a mutual action plan gives both you and the buyer a dedicated, timed-out plan for execution. Following this plan will help you stay on track and complete the deal faster.

Increase deal size

As if deal-killing fire drills weren’t bad enough, the end of a sale is usually when your deal size shrinks. Last-minute objections or equivocations tend to drive down the price of the purchase, often at the cost of essential features.

Mutual action plans can prevent this by allowing the buyer and seller to agree upon the value of each aspect of the deal before diving all the way in. That way, when objections arise, both parties have a prepared response that can keep the deal moving forward as-is.

Increase win rates

Developing a plan for closing a deal and following through means you will close deals faster, more reliably, more consistently… and with a whole lot less stress.

So, What’s in a Mutual Action Plan?

The particulars of a mutual action plan obviously depend on the nature of the deal and the teams involved in it. As you create your own mutual action plan, however, you should include each of the following sections:

Value summary

A value summary basically answers the question “why are we here?” according to both the buyer and the seller. It’s a statement at the very top of the mutual action plan that explains how the product or service being sold will be valuable for the company buying it.

Write the value summary by identifying a specific problem the buyer is experiencing, and then define how the product or service will help them solve it. The greater the clarity of this statement, the less likely anyone will find any reason to quibble with it.

List of key stakeholders

List the names, positions, and contact information for everyone who will be involved in the process from the point of making the mutual action plan onward. Be sure to include team members on both the buying and selling sides of the deal.

Process sequence and milestones

This is the bulk of the mutual action plan, and it requires the collaboration of all key stakeholders to put together.

Schedule a meeting with all folks involved to lay out everything both teams will have to do to ensure the product or service is adopted and implemented into the company successfully.

During this meeting, determine:

  • Who is responsible for each step in this process
  • A deadline for when each step of the process must be completed
  • The order in which each step of the process must be completed
  • What resources the team will need in order to complete each part of the process and where they can get these resources
  • What it will look like and what will be delivered when each step in the process is completed
  • The intended duration of the process overall and key dates for completion
  • A timeline for the completion of each step and the process overall

List all of this information in the mutual action plan and refer to it throughout the deal completion process.

Buyer Participation Is Essential to Your Mutual Action Plan

Fire drills at the end of a deal usually happen because sellers and buyers don’t consult one another closely or often enough. The same thing kills mutual action plans. The whole point of a mutual action plan is that it’s a collaboration between both the buyer and seller teams, and it inherently focuses on the customer’s goals and needs.

Involve your buying team in the creation of your mutual action plan as much as possible. Shape the contents from their point of view. Get sign-off on the particulars of your mutual action plan from all key stakeholders before you move forward.

If they have any questions or suggestions, address them right away during the creation process. The clearer your mutual understanding is in the beginning, the fewer misunderstandings you’ll have to iron out for the rest of the process.

The final outcome of a successful mutual action plan? Mutual benefits!

Download our free mutual action plan template

Get started on developing your mutual action plans for your critical accounts and sales opportunities by downloading our free template.

Or, for help creating data-driven mutual action plans that can further accelerate your success, try a no-obligation demo of or give us a call today.

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