The War Room
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Mutual Success Plans (MSPs)

Yo sales savages!


What is you take on Mutual Success Plans (MSPs) or close plans or whatever name your org likes to call them.


My personal take is that 99% of the time MSPs are pushed by management typically when their totally unrealistic forecast numbers have failed multiple quarters in a row. Then they put the responsibility on their reps try and predict human behavior to get a more accurate forecast, so upper management won't fire their ass.


However, my experience is that the experienced customer see right through the so-called Mutual Success Plans for what they really are - close plans to ensure they sign by a given date, which really is not part of a "mutual" success.


Also, most of the time the sales manager will force the rep to introduce the MSP too early in the process, like way before the customer has decided to work with you. Their response or thought is, dude (or dudette) I haven't even decided that I want to work with you and you are asking me what the contract closing process is - are you out of your mind.


Alternatively, the MSP gets introduce so late, i.e. the customer has already told you that they will move forward with you, at which point the closing steps will be obvious anyway.


All in all - my take is that MSPs take a shit ton of work and rarely help. I think the real problem is the way companies go about forecasting, i.e. they try to forecast or predict individual deal which is like predicting human behavior - good luck with that one. Whereas, I think they right way is to predict close revenue based on what is in the pipeline for closing and what the historical performance has been. In essence I believe that forecasting and deal management are two completely different activities, because of course you still have to manage your deals professionally but you shouldn't confuse it with forecasting.


I'd love to hear everybody's take though!


/rant

Do you use MSPs
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🎱 Sales Forecast
7
CoorsKing
WR Officer
+11
King of the Coors Knights
We called them MAPs (mutual action plan) and I have never seen one help. Nobody follows them.Β 
nomdeguerre
Valued Contributor
+5
VP of Channel Partner Sales
Ok, thanks. I'm glad I'm not the only one with that experience. Jeremy Donovan posted on LI about them, and everybody was talking about how great MSPs/MAPs are and I was like dude I don't think so.
CoorsKing
WR Officer
+11
King of the Coors Knights
We can do all we can, and write down "mutual dates" but ultimately we have no control over their process so the dates we pick are arbitrary.Β 

The ONLY thing I think doing a MAP/MSP shows is how committed the prospect is to buying something. They won't go through the exercise if they are just kicking tires.Β 
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
Kahluapons
We don't use them and it sounds like I should be glad we don't.

We do determine a decision date with the prospect based on both of our timelines/workloads fairly early on in the process. It's ok...holds up about 50% of the time but even if a prospect is determined to get it done by x date when you set it stuff can still come derail it.Β 
Beans
Politicker
+5
Account Executive
Not sure exactly what the context is of an MSP.

We use Joint Execution Plans internally - but that's because we need to really roadmap implementation.Β 
nomdeguerre
Valued Contributor
+5
VP of Channel Partner Sales
The MSPs I have seen are typically outline of steps to contract close. In other words what needs to happen for the deal to close. It should really be based on what is your prospects goals for this project and when do they need to achieve those and then work your way backwards to when the contract needs to be signed to achieve that timeline.

The once I have seen rarely includes actual project implementation steps which of course would be relevant to the prospect.

And it is meant to be a shared document between you and the prospect - not an internal document.
detectivegibbles
Politicker
+8
Territory Rep
never heard of this. Sounds like another acronym to try and keep up with that causes more confusion than progress. Deal management feels post sale to me. Forecasting is exactly that, forecasting what’s coming in.
looper1010
Celebrated Contributor
+13
Account Executive
Never heard or seen them
nomdeguerre
Valued Contributor
+5
VP of Channel Partner Sales
These illusive creatures are difficult to spot in the wild *he said in David Attenborough voice ;-)

Seriously though consider yourself lucky
looper1010
Celebrated Contributor
+13
Account Executive
lol, grateful I don't have to encounter them yet!
CaneWolf
Politicker
+12
Call me what you want, just sign the damn contract
It's situational. They can be effective, especially with first-time buyers, when the buying organization just has no idea how to purchase/follow a process.

I'd say it's a 1/3 effective, 2/3 ineffective thing.
nomdeguerre
Valued Contributor
+5
VP of Channel Partner Sales
Cool, thanks for the perspective.
Businesscasual
Opinionated
+1
Account Executive
I think they are great for ensuring I have crossed off my boxes so I don’t miss anything in the evaluation. Does the prospect care? Probably not since they’re driving the closing date in almost every way, but outside of that they have their benefits and drawbacks.
nomdeguerre
Valued Contributor
+5
VP of Channel Partner Sales
Make sense. I can definitely see the value of an internal checklist, but I question their value in terms of predicting the customer's behavior or timeline.
Businesscasual
Opinionated
+1
Account Executive
If you can analyze how many and which steps are taken with the customer and compare it to close rates you can get some actionable insight. for instance, my mutual action plan includes adding additional depts for scoping discussion, which also helps me add key influencers I need to champion my service over the competitors. I believe it truly depends on the actual steps you put in the plan that make or break it. It’s not and will never be fool proof for predicting customer behavior but it can tell you what percentage of your clients sign going through X steps instead of skipping them.Β 
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