Stop Deal Slippage with MAPs

This article is written by Nicci Boots, marketing director & head of content at A Better Jones, and content specialist & community organizer at Our Galaxy. She’s a firm believer in collaborating with sales to produce the most effective marketing.

We’ve all been there. Wrapped up in what you feel will be your biggest sale to date, bragging to your team leader about how easily you secured the deal, and how you’re about to land a nice, fat commission because of it.

Then, right before close . . . everything goes dark. 

You end up losing the deal, your team misses their number for the quarter, and the company has to scramble because you didn’t deliver that revenue you had committed to.

It’s not a good look.

Deals slip for three reasons: (1) failure to anchor the deal to a customer priority, (2) failure to assemble the people and resources required for each milestone of the buying process before they’re needed and (3) failure to build group consensus across the buying committee. 

The good news is these are all avoidable if you’ve got a plan in place that guides your customer along a safe path to achieving their priority. 

Documenting this path in a Mutual Action Plan, and sharing it with your buyers at the onset of the sales process, makes it nearly impossible to go off track, so you can hit quota, your customer sees value, and your team delivers the predictable revenue that makes the Sales Gods smile.  


Anchoring to a customer priority to keep everyone focused

The most important step of the sales process is to identify a customer priority where you have an insight and can help. Existing priorities already have budget, metrics of success that your customer is responsible for, AND most importantly . . . a due date. 

Let’s imagine you sell paint, and that you’ve got an interested customer who is looking to paint the inside of their home.  

You’ve got a typical 60-day sales cycle, so you plot out the paint sale according to that, but you fail to identify why they want the paint. 

The best salespeople know that to reach success with the deal, they must identify the compelling event associated with it. This compelling event pushes the sale forward, on the customer’s terms, and makes the sale exciting for them — exactly why you should build your case for the sale around the compelling event.

So what is the customer hoping to accomplish? What is the compelling event behind this purchase of paint? 

The customer in question wants to paint their home, but for what reason? If the answer lies in that they want to sell it, that’s a promising compelling event, and allows you to establish the dates by which certain steps must be made to complete the process successfully.  

If there isn’t a compelling event that can be tied to this pending sale, offer the buyer a nominal plan that you will work to refine. It’s important to get their mind working, and prompted to recognize why they’re wanting to make the purchase, and within what timeframe. These details will structure the rest of the selling process in a much more efficient way.

Working with a MAP will help you keep better track of these details, and maintain alignment with the customer priority. Or, at the very least, highlight ways you don’t have alignment, so you won’t end up surprised when the deal slips.


Establish key steps in the process

Deals also stall when you neglect to identify the key steps involved in the selling/buying process, and the delays that can occur while securing resources for this process. 

Let’s say you shared all of your paint colors with the homeowner in your first conversation together, then they come back a few weeks later with their pick, ready to start painting, because they’re selling the house next week.

But your paint is actually made in Italy, and it will take at least a month before the customer has it in their hands.

If you’re lucky, the customer will be able to postpone the selling of the house until after the paint arrives from overseas. 

The more likely result is that you’ve completely blown the deal because you didn’t do all the necessary back work: identifying when the paint needed to be received, checking whether that color’s in stock, and seeing if you need to expedite it now that COVID has slowed down all lanes of shipping.

Addressing all these questions with the buyer in that very first conversation helps you bypass all potential delays and frustrations. Using a MAP from the start helps you proactively identify milestones so the buyer can be better prepared for what’s ahead, and the seller will know in advance if there are any additional hoops they’ll need to jump through along the way.

Connect with all stakeholders

Another crucial component to a successful deal is getting buy in from all key decision makers as early as possible.

Maybe you’ve been talking to a homeowner who has all the best intentions for painting their home interior a new color, but who has also failed to check with their significant other on the situation.

Then the paint arrives, and the significant other is aghast. “I wanted to use wallpaper instead of paint!”

As a seller you should have confirmed earlier on if there was anyone else involved in the decision making process. To do this in the most appropriate and beneficial manner, remind the buyer that you want to make their home beautiful with the new paint — and highly sellable. That way they should be more responsive to your question on additional decision makers in the deal.

Utilizing MAPs also ensures you walk through deal milestones with the buyer early on, and determine who needs to be involved in each step. This gets you working with all stakeholders ahead of time, and allows more for delays that could occur if a decision maker ends up resisting purchase.

Also, if you’re in a position where the buyer won’t share other stakeholders, or don’t know who they are, then you’re probably not talking to the right person, and haven’t successfully proven your business value case. If this is the case then you can just take the close day off the board, because you haven’t established the trust and credibility that will end in success for this deal.

Using MAPs to avoid deal slippage

In the end, all of the paint vendor’s failings could have been prevented by outlining the entire selling/buying process in a MAP, from start to finish.

And sure, we know it’s very likely you don’t sell paint, yourself, and work in a much more complex environment that has way more players involved. But that’s all the more reason why you should consider using MAPs!

A MAP ensures all the details of the process are visible — it offers the buyer better assurance and understanding as it all unfolds, and keeps all the necessary components of the sale right in front of you. Which provides a much better chance for the deal to close, and not slip away.


Teams that use DealPoint close more deals, have a super accurate forecast and enjoy all the benefits of mutual trust & transparency between buying team and selling team.

So what do you want your next quarter to look like? Let’s talk. 

Download your copy of our Mutual Action Plan template