Last week, I was in a closing call with a new enterprise client. At one point, the Director of North American Sales, who was part of the buying group, broke into this huge smile.

“I love that you just did a ‘trial’ close,” he said. “It was awesome the way you stepped us through our own buying process, starting with where we saw the most value.”

What did he mean?  

I often say that sellers do not close deals, buyers close deals. The role of the seller is to guide the buyer step by step through the path to a potential partnership.

Individual sellers and sales teams often underestimate their expertise when it comes to the buyer’s internal process. We sell the same product all day long. Our buyers might consider our product once a year at best.

So, a good mutual close plan is just a series of questions for the buyer and seller to answer together on the path to a successful partnership. It has to be mutual.

Here is a possible set of questions to build that path to partnership:

  • Do we fit on the highest areas of value and places to start our partnership?
  • Do we have the support of the full buying group?
  • Have we identified a source of funding and a timeline?
  • What is the process for technical review?
  • What is the procurement and financial approvals process?
  • What is the legal process to get to contract redlines and how long does it take?
  • What is our target kickoff date so we know when we need to have all of this done by?

For proposal-ready deals, the “last 10 minutes” of any sales call should be used to focus on confirming each element of this path to partnership.

Others call it a sequence of events, a mutual close plan, or a workback plan. Whatever the name, the point is for the seller to use their expertise to guide the conversation forward.

Learn more and download a Path to Partnership Play here.