7 Steps to Flawless Client Onboarding

Client Onboarding is Powerful Stuff!

This is the process of welcoming a new client, creating foundations and expectations. You’ll establish the specific ways you’ll work together. When your onboarding is on point, it can help you:

  • Ensure legal compliance
  • Reduce scope creep
  • Improve retention and client advocacy of your brand
  • Work efficiently together and avoid miscommunications
  • Make your client comfortable and ready to collaborate
  • Show the smooth productivity you’re bringing to them

Buyer’s remorse often comes quickly after a purchase. Part of the sales process includes addressing that fear of the unknown both before and after the close. Client onboarding is the perfect opportunity to make that positive impression. It sets up the foundation for a productive and lasting relationship.  

 

Client Onboarding Priorities

The primary goal of onboarding is to ensure it ties loose ends before beginning client work.

Introduce the You in Your Business

They’ve been through the sales process which always has a very Serious Business feel to it because you’re involving money. But once that elephant is out of the room, this is your chance to connect with your new client that’s based on personal touch.

Address Questions

This is a top priority. Be proactive with your client about any confusion or concerns. This is where you can nix the possibility of buyer’s remorse.  

Gain Information

This is a fact-finding mission! You’ll want to get administrative data. But also dive into the goals, motivations, expectations, and preferred working methods of your new client.

 

The 7 Steps to Follow

Your prospect has now joined your email list/social media and you need to keep their interest by providing more value. You want to teach them more about your products and services and how what you offer is the right solution for the problem they’re facing. While the content material you send might still be in the same format as the Attention stage, (blog posts, eBooks, videos, etc.), the information you send in this phase should be more specific and relevant.

 1 - After The Sale – Contracts and Payments

This step is to ensure we have missed nothing before moving forward with the main client tasks. Ensure your proposal is formally accepted and your contract signed. The easiest way to manage this is by using a client relationship management (CRM) tool like Dubsado, Plutio, or HubSpot. This gives you a single place where this information can be stored and automated.

2 – Your Onboarding Questionnaire – What to Include

The Practical Basics

The first information you want is the practical essentials: important data like phone numbers and billing information from the client. Also share your important information like office hours and contact options.  

Philosophy and Preferences

Get to know your new client. Taking the time and attempting to understand how your client works best is valuable. Not just to you so you can provide excellent service but it lets them know you respect their existing workflows. A short series of agree/disagree statements is an easy way to get a temperature check on what’s important to your client.

Desires and Goals

These are the specific outcomes the client is looking for from your collaboration. Ask what the client really wants to achieve. What does success look like to them? Dig past generalities into specifics with KPI metrics, if possible. You’re the subject matter expert so be prepared to teach what metrics are important and why.

3 – Internal Launch – Applying the Data

Once you’ve gathered data from your questionnaire, it’s time to take action. Update your CRM with the new information from your client. The Desires and Goals section along with the Philosophy and Preferences are the key data you want to capture. Update any calendars and contact lists to reflect any updated preferences.  

 

There are important benefits to keeping your own client folder. Besides work you’ve done, you can also keep invoices, meeting notes, and reports. If this is the route you want to take, be sure to set up that folder as part of your internal client onboarding process. 

Set up your tracking systems from the KPI questionnaire data. This is also a good time to verify login credentials for any sites and tools. You’ll likely get your KPI data from there. Create a central holding place for client information. It’s best if this can be in your CRM but will work just fine as a document or spreadsheet. Define client in ways that will inform and guide your relationship. Things like how the team works, risks and opportunities, quantifiable goals,

4 – Your Kickoff Meeting

Now that you’ve worked all the information from the client into your systems and distilled goals and priorities, it’s time to make the plan. This is best done as a collaborative effort when working with someone new. You should go in with the framework ready based on your analysis. Give it structure and context but don’t dwell on specifics. At this strategic level, you’re working with ideas. You’ll be able to break down the strategy into tactics once you and the client have decided your strategy. 

The next priority in your kickoff call is defining the next steps for both you and the client. This includes any lingering admin issues. You want to start with a clean table.  

5 – Your Welcome Touch

Now that the back end of your new client relationship is up and running, it’s a good time to reach out and thank them. This is certainly an emotional relationship builder. Even more though, it’s a post-sales touch.

This is a great place for a high value-low cost item. Something you’ve already made or done you can give at low to (preferably) no cost to you.

Your new client moves into the next level of your sales funnel: clients you want to keep engaged and purchasing. I think of nurturing tactics as a bank account. You can’t withdraw from an empty account. You have to fill it first and get some savings going before you can really start making withdrawls. Your gratitude expressed as something valuable to your client is an easy and powerful first deposit.

6 – Ongoing Care

No strategy is ever “finished”, really. Build in time to check in with your client on a regular basis. This ensures progress and doing it up front helps reassure the client you’re not going to vanish. It doesn’t have to be a great big meeting. It can be as little as 15 minutes once you’ve been working together and have focused priorities.

Regular check ins are opportunities. They’re opportunities for quality control and clarification that saves everyone time. You can celebrate milestones together and build recognizing wins into your relationship. It’s also where you’ll learn of new needs, new pain points, and new ways to serve your client.  

7 – Process Improvement

Ongoing review of processes is booooooring. You can do it painlessly by reviewing as you go. Each time you run through a process, take no more than five to ten minutes to answer these questions:

  1. What worked
  2. What didn’t
  3. What you’ll do differently next time

You don’t have to put a lot of heavy lifting into process improvement if you do it as you go. An important step you can add to the review process is adding documentation. If scaling is your goal, you should always be looking for places you can delegate. Bake that idea in at the core of how your company operates so you’re ready from the start. I like to use Loom for these.

 

On-boarding is a part of your sales process as well as your operations process. It’s a powerful opportunity to ensure the success of your relationship now and for the long term.

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