Regardless of the length or brevity of any Collaboration Plan, it should include recommended actions for addressing:
- Operational Risk Issues – actions that prove the viability and applicability of a proposed solution to address an identified problem or to fulfill an opportunity
- Transitional Risk Issues – required actions for a successful solution installation, implementation, or conversion
- Financial Risk Issues – actions for arriving at a mutually agreed upon statement of value and return on investment, and for identifying and tracking the desired business results for the buyer
- Buying Process Issues – organizational procedural requirements including legal, administrative, technical, and purchasing department reviews, and approvals by managerial or executive decision-makers
A Collaboration Plan addresses both buyer and seller risks, equally. It is not just a plan to sell, ending with a signature on an agreement. Rather, it is a jointly agreed upon series of events for charting a course through the evaluation and all the way to successful business results for the buyer. A well-constructed Collaboration Plan serves the mutual interests of both the buyer and the seller, by making the entire evaluation and decision process open and transparent.
The Myth of Control
A collaborative selling approach recognizes that the path to success is not based on trying to control buyers. Control-oriented thinking is a throwback to selling practices based on outdated buyer behavior assumptions. Today, Buyer 2.0 is an empowered buyer, reluctant to give up control of their buying process. A Collaboration Plan demonstrates the seller’s alignment with Buyer 2.0 behavior. Complete collaboration between buyers and sellers is now the only reasonable approach.
When a seller offers a Collaboration Plan, the preferred outcome is to have the buyer make changes and additions to it. If a buyer changes the plan, then the buyer takes an ownership stake in the plan. A buyer who ignores a Collaboration Plan proffered by a seller, or who responds only with a perfunctory acquiescence, is not really committing to joint exploration of a potential solution. A buyer who amends and improves a draft Collaboration Plan in conjunction with a seller is showing that they are willing to work actively together.
For this reason, mutual agreement on a Collaboration Plan is an important indicator of alignment with Buyer 2.0, and is a verifiable outcome that indicates positive progress. It is proof to the buyer that their concerns about operational, transitional, and financial risk will be addressed and that a purchase decision can be made with confidence.
Download a useful template for developing your own Collaboration Plans with your buyers, and dramatically reducing losses to ‘no decision’ and buyer inaction.