Our last blog post talked about running a successful proof of concept (POC).
During the course of a POC a vital document is the mutual success plan. Far from being a document, the mutual success plan is a roadmap for a successful POC.
We strongly recommend going through our blog post on running a POC before you start reading about the mutual success plan.
Anatomy of a mutual success plan
Below are images that show a complete mutual success plan that is based on a SaaS help desk software.
How much could you figure out from the images above? Hopefully a lot!
Instead of throwing a fancy powerpoint presentation at the problem, the overview section clearly outlines the major business objectives of somecompany with regards to evaluating a help desk software. The overview also outlines a clear end date to the POC.
By adding the main contacts in this section you are asking the prospect to do two things:
a) Clearly outline who from their organisation will be responsible for the evaluation.
b) Make the individuals responsible for the POC and increase their ownership in the entire process
You will know your prospect is not serious if they are unwilling to share information about themselves and also not willing to align people to the POC process.
This is the most important section of the POC. More often than not, your prospect will come with high level goals like "improve customer care" or "increase visibility". These are good goals but none of these can be measured. Without measurable goals you can never truly prove that your POC was effective!
A consultative sales process requires you as the sales individual to translate those goals into measurable goals.
In this example, the goal "Improve customer response times" has been translated to measurable metric of improving response by 20%. If your prospect does not have a hold no their current response time then it is your job to consult them on the industry standards and get them to agree on a fixed response time.
If you cannot define and agree on measurable goals with your prospect. The POC is already off on the wrong foot.
Once (measurable) goals are set. The next step is translating those goals into specific features or action items. In our example, we have taken the goal "improve response times" and then broken it down into milestones that are help desk specific.
These milestones are clearly measurable and come with a date by which they should be in place.
More importantly milestones also mention who the owner from somecompany and the help desk organisation will be.
Like the contact's section by designating a go to person for each milestone you are making sure there is ownership at your prospect's end.
In addition, the biggest advantage of assigning milestones is that it allows you to move the prospect towards closure without being pushy.
Instead of just following up by saying "How is the evaluation going?"
You can now follow up with something like "Hi John, I see we had to setup triggers by the 25th, however we are behind on this goal. Can we meet up quickly to accelerate this so that we are not behind on the evaluation?"
A signature on a mutual success plan is vital as it asks the prospect to commit to the POC and above all shows that both parties are equally committed to the POC.
It is vital that the prospect not feel that he is committing to purchasing in anyway. The sales individual should outline this clearly before the start of the POC. You can also consider mentioning in the POC that this is not an intent to purchase but just an agreement on how to conduct the evaluation.
Using the mutual success plan to close more sales
The mutual success plan can help you close more sales by:
a) Showing clear and pre-defined value upon successful completion of the POC. Nothing is left to chance.
b) Making sure your prospect does not end up wasting your time
c) Allow you to keep the sale on track and improve your pipeline forecasting.
Once a successful POC is completed using a mutual success plan, the chances of closure are higher and your prospect is more likely to reach a decision faster.
d) Making sure all major stakeholders are involved and in the loop.
Let us know how your next POC goes and if we were able to add any value to it. Tweet to us @insideselling or use our contact form for any feedback.