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Prospect And Customer Accountability Struggles: The Answer Is Mutual

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at October 1, 2021

Joseph Knecht, CEO of ProteusEngage, serial entrepreneur, technologist, customer success and buyer enablement advocate.

Accountability is everything in building relationships with customers and prospects. But achieving the level of accountability your sales and client success teams need to close the sale or gain the upsell is a lot easier said than done. Subjective and slippery, accountability is hard to achieve and requires open and transparent conversations — not exactly something the business world is known for. 

But as someone who has worked for years in customer relationship management, I believe it’s time to flip the script and make open conversation a key element to the sales and client success process. And for the modern buyer (and modern customer), on-point relationships are real needle movers for your revenue bottom line. Accountability and trust can begin with a simple, “How are things going? How can I help you meet your goals?” And accountability especially flourishes when you have a tangible process to grow it. 

Mutual Action Plans

Mutual action plans (MAPs) are nothing new, but when executed well, I have found they can be the catalyst that can help your business drastically improve accountability. At the simplest level, MAPs are strategic plans that move all parties involved closer to their goals with clear assignments of responsibility and an agreed-upon timeline.

On the sales side, the goal might be closing the sale and achieving value for the customer, and the MAP helps outline exactly how that will take place. Not only are MAPs a tool to help sales connect better with prospects and more fully with existing customers, but they also provide a non-binding agreement for how to move forward with the relationship — a literal how-to guide for accountability and account growth. 

MAPs that help sales and client success teams achieve accountability should: 

• Clearly outline objectives and goals.

• Provide an actionable roadmap for the agreed timeline. 

• Outline clear tasks and owners.

• Account for resource allocation. 

• Facilitate the ability to revisit and assess. 

Further Advice

Make sure to approach the MAP with accountability at the forefront and start simply. For sales, start with simple MAPs and expand to more complex versions over time. When you and your prospect come together and you ask them how you can work together to make these objectives achievable, you’re already starting to build accountability. When you add in actionable steps with a clear timeline, owners and resource allocation, you’ll be that much further along in solidifying the relationship. 

On the client success side, MAPs are perfect during onboarding to keep everyone on track and also the most effective follow-ups for Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) in order to not lose the momentum of those meaningful conversations. With clear action items, clients can visually see real progress toward their goals and how your product plays a role that positions your client success teams for customer retention or an upsell. 

Remember, “mutual” is a key element in mutual action plans. Make sure your MAPs aren’t one-sided. Give all team members (both internal and on the client/prospect side) access to the MAP and the ability to view tasks, collaborate and communicate. This collaboration is priceless in building relationships and achieving accountability. 

For the modern buyer and the modern customer, accountable relationship building is essential but difficult to achieve. When done right, MAPs provide so many things like consistency, transparency, stronger relationships, visibility, early conflict identification (which allows more time for resolution) and more. Maximize accountability and improve your relationships through on-point mutual action plans that take all the guesswork out of the process.


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