There are few times during a relationship with a prospect or client more exciting and important than during the onboarding process. There’s been buy in and commitment to work together, but so much of what lies ahead remains unknown, which is why it’s crucial to develop and roll out a strategic, comprehensive onboarding process for any new client.
At Site Strategics, I split my time between outreaching to Edge of Indy guests and onboarding clients as they begin work with our production team of web developers, social media managers, content managers, graphic designers and more. I serve as the liaison between this new client and our team, helping to get the project off on the right foot by developing the strategy behind their marketing services, after doing a fair share of intake, interpretation and even more listening. I love what I do, because I’m often one of the first individuals on our team to interact with a new client, thus I get to demonstrate our aptitude, agility and ability. In other words, I care a lot about making sure our new clients are as excited to work with us, as we are to work with them.
Here are a few best practices to deploy when onboarding a new client, especially if you care a lot:
Set Expectations Early and Often
Sales representatives have one job – to secure the business. And while they are certainly an important member of the organization, details are bound to get lost in translation, as their expertise can sometimes be outside of the marketing umbrella. During the beginning of a new client relationship, it’s important for the onboarding manager to establish expectations early on the in relationship, and reinforce them until the project is officially handed off to the account manager. Make sure to address timelines and details around deliverables and the approval process, standard operating procedures around meetings and phone calls, and other details that can impact the flow of the project or impact the quality of the engagement.
Gather All the Data, Then Confirm It
While you don’t want to bombard your new client with a slew of questions and needs, you do want to invest time and energy into performing thorough, comprehensive intake. At Site Strategics, we focus heavily on target audience and understanding the needs, pain points and challenges of our clients’ customers or stakeholders. As such, we execute a buyer persona exercise to help companies further identify their primary, secondary and tertiary target audiences. Understanding target audiences helps ensure the strategy we create and execute is tied to measurable objectives. We provide our fresh clients with intake questions to help steer our next discovery document – the digital assessment. Prior to work being completed, the digital assessment serves as a comprehensive audit of a client’s existing digital performance. Those findings directly inform the strategy we pitch for ongoing marketing services, thus providing a new client with confirmation that we are on the right track and have a correct read on the current lay of the land and their goals. Once a client confirms we demonstrate an understanding of their business goals and they are receptive to our recommendations for continued work, we’re off to the races.
Be Present + Listen, Don’t Hear
Early on in a relationship, it’s simple to sometimes tune out and rely on your previous experiences to make assumptions about a client. Before this happens, snap out of it! Each client is different, as are their customers and their corresponding needs, challenges and pain points. You’re doing yourself and the client a disservice to rely on past experiences to inform their strategy. Instead, be present – when in meetings, document everything being discussed and look for ways to dissect it to reveal additional insight or opportunities. A client’s perspective is valuable, but limited in scope – they don’t know what they don’t know. They can speak to what they think a customer might be facing when engaging with their company, but you need to be present enough to translate what they are communicating to you and really uncovering the root cause of their customers’ behavior. Don’t zone out – stay focused, listen, and help find the problem. That way, you can present all the ways in which you can help fill their need and provide value.
Once handed off to an account executive, your relationship with that client shouldn’t cease to exist. Instead, it’s just the beginning of an ongoing partnership – one rooted in trust and fostered through sincere, ongoing communication. While you may not be interacting with the client on a daily basis once work begins, that doesn’t mean they should fall off your radar. Make an effort to appear in fairly consistent correspondence with them, even if that means being copied on an email from the account manager, or sending a quick email to ensure you can’t be of further assistance. At Site Strategics, my involvement with a client never ends, as I re-engage every 90 days to audit and assess their marketing services and ensure the work we do on their behalf aligns with their business goals.
If you have marketing needs and are looking for a team of sincere, strategic partners, contact us at Site Strategics.