Face it: when your lead onboarding process is poor, everyone loses.
Clients feel dissatisfied and lost without a set plan in place. Meanwhile, you struggle to meet their expectations and risk missing out on a long-term partnership.
A well-defined lead onboarding process, however, solves this problem, making both you and the client feel successful in the early stages of working together.
Want to learn how it’s done? Keep on reading.
#1. Map and Share Your Implementation Process
If there’s one basic idea behind a successful lead onboarding strategy, it’s this:
Transparency is key.
The more you include your client in your implementation process, the less opportunity for confusion or false expectations.
So, to begin, ask your client about their business goals and align your plan to them.
Beginning the process with listening ensures you’re both working toward the same results.
As Ryan Vallee, Product Management Lead at AVG, a security service provider writes:
“Customers and their business goals take priority. It’s great to have technology tools and processes in place, but understanding business goals…can ensure the onboarding process is in line with what matters to clients’ bottom lines.”
So, how do you take your client’s goals and turn them into something actionable that you can present?
First, think about the scope of the project and the resources you have available to make it happen. How long will each step take?
Map the entire process on a calendar, assigning “due dates” to major implementation steps. Be conservative: It’s better to overestimate the time implementation will take and deliver early then be late.
Second, set KPIs. Once you know what your client looks to achieve, put together some performance metrics that align with those goals. KPIs hold you accountable to the client and show return on investment early on in the partnership.
Finally, get their agreement. Once you feel confident in your process, present it to the decision maker for their sign-off. By agreeing together on the process, both sides are invested and clear on next steps.
#2. Keep the Client Informed with Frequent Status Updates
Once both sides have agreed on a process for implementation, it’s time for you to get to work.
Naturally, you’ll face various challenges when implementing the strategy. Often, those problems block your team’s ability to stick to the timeline or hit certain benchmarks.
That’s completely okay, as long as you communicate it to your client.
Plenty of times, IT companies try to sweep problems under the rug because they’re afraid of upsetting the client. These companies don’t understand that they’re actually making things worse by not communicating.
As Karla Cook, Staff Writer for Hubspot, a digital marketing company notes:
“In the early stages of the project, keep your new client consistently in the loop — even on decisions that seem minor to your team. This shows the client that you’re fully committed to providing clear, actionable information throughout the project.”
Communicating with customers begins from your very first contact, but true customer engagement from a partnership standpoint begins during lead onboarding.
When should you be communicating during lead onboarding?
- To celebrate wins. Sharing success stories makes everyone feel good about the partnership and the direction you’re headed. Take the time to call out small wins, especially if those wins are a result of something your company and the client’s team did together.
- To suggest improvements. Look for opportunities to improve upon the solutions your company set out to provide the new client. Provided you’re still aligned with their goals, making truly consultative recommendations will build trust and if you’re lucky, might just get you some more new business in these early stages!
- To ask for help. Any successful implementation process requires working closely with the client’s internal team. Aim to minimize their workload as much as possible, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.
#3. Help the Client to be an Expert in Using Your Service
I’m sure you’ve experienced this before: new clients are often resistant to change.
A client has a certain way they go about their business and even if leadership recognizes inefficiencies well enough to know they need a company like yours to step in, that doesn’t mean everyone will be quick to adopt.
That’s why educating customers on how to best use your service is perhaps the most important part of lead onboarding.
The quicker you show the value of your service, the sooner you’ll find widespread adoption across the client.
Greg Devore, CEO of ScreenSteps, a self-service documentation company elaborates:
“The key here isn’t the length of the content, but the depth. During onboarding you only want to deliver the amount of information that is absolutely necessary to help the customer reach their initial goal. Too much information will overwhelm them while too little will leave them short of their goal.”
Think about the following components, via Bourne Creative, when building out your education plan:
Once you have an idea of what your clients need to know in order to find early success and how you can help them get there, talk with the leadership team to discuss the best mode of delivery (webinar, .PDF overviews, pre-recorded walk-throughs, etc.)
#4. Report Results at the 30 and 60 Day Marks
You can have the best lead onboarding program in the world, but it all means nothing if the client isn’t seeing results. Return on investment (in combination with a good onboarding experience) makes clients return customers.
That’s why you need to schedule 30 and 60-day business reviews. It’s true, you will be communicating wins continuously throughout lead onboarding. But these reviews are a time for you and your client to really dig deep into the impact on their business from your partnership.
Here are the four areas your should be focused on in these reviews:
- Measure – Remind the client of the KPIs you set at the beginning of the implementation process. Ask if they are still the best measurement of our success in this partnership.
- Report – Here’s your chance to show the client their return on investment. Make sure data is simple and aligns to the client’s goals outlined at the start of the partnership.
- Analyze – What is working well in the partnership so far? Why?
- Improve – Where are there opportunities to get better?
Be sure to end the meeting by outlining next steps for both sides and then follow-through on those actions as soon as possible.
Building a lead onboarding process that works can be difficult, but now you’re armed with some simple steps to help you better align with your client’s goals and ensure you’re helping them save money.
In putting this advice into action, your setting your company up for success by creating a strong partnership from the get-go, encouraging clients to become returning customers.