The relationship between a company and their customer goes beyond a mere transaction in the dynamic landscape of B2B. Effective customer onboarding plays a pivotal role. While most people may still believe the line between complex sales and customer onboarding is clear. 

In fact, the complex sales and customer success stages of the customer journey greatly influence the success of customer onboarding. In this article, we explore the intricacies of each phase. Highlighting their significance will help businesses optimize their strategies for seamless customer onboarding.

Navigating the Critical Last 25% of the B2B Sale

In the complex journey of a B2B sale, the final 25% of the process is pivotal. This phase marks the transition from securing a sale to successfully onboarding the customer. The end of the sale sets the tone for the entire customer experience. 

The goal is to nurture future customer relationship management with your company. The focus shifts from persuasion to preparation. The effectiveness of this phase can significantly influence the overall success of the customer integration and long-term satisfaction.

Setting the Stage for Success

As the sale nears closure, it's essential to shift the focus toward laying a good foundation. This involves setting clear expectations about timelines, milestones, and addressing potential challenges that might arise during the implementation process. These final discussions provide clarity, help prevent gaps, and set a clear path forward. As a result, both parties align with the projected outcomes and processes.

Fostering Trust and Transparency

The last quarter of the complex sales process should strengthen the relationship built during the initial stages of negotiation. During this time, maintaining open communication channels becomes crucial. The sales team must understand and address the customer's needs. This clarity sets the groundwork for what success will look like for the customer post-purchase.

This period also often involves the introduction of subject matter experts (SMEs) into the conversation. These technical or industry-specific experts play a vital role. They see that the solutions proposed align perfectly with the customer’s requirements and expectations. 

Their involvement is not just about confirming technical details. They also reinforce trust through demonstrating expertise and commitment to the customer’s success.

Sales Handoff: Bridging Sales and Customer Onboarding

A detailed and well-organized sales handoff makes the move from the sales phase to the customer onboarding phase much smoother. This handoff acts as a bridge between the promises made during the sales pitches and the actual value to the customer. Customers can see the value clearly only once they begin using the product or service.

Proper documentation, clear communication of the customer’s goals, expectations, and the specific solutions agreed upon are crucial. Customer onboarding teams should understand expectations and what success looks like to the customer.

Potential Pitfalls of Mishandling the Last 25%

Failure to effectively manage this critical transition can lead to several significant issues:

  • Prospect Ghosting and Deal Loss: Prospects can disengage for many reasons. The one within your control is clear communication and trust. Without these essential elements, there is a real risk of prospects ignoring you, which can result in lost deals.
  • Misalignment with Customer Expectations: Bad transitions between team members can lead to a significant disconnect. What makes the most sense for your product or service may not be what the customer expects.  As we know, unfulfilled expectations most often lead to disappointment and potential churn.
  • Extended Sales Processes: Lack of efficiency and clear communication can cause delays. The time it takes to get the clarity extends the sales cycle. Extending the timeline in this way costs more resources and greater risks.
  • Burnout of Subject Matter Experts: SMEs are often a limited resource. Stacking their workload without proper alignment and scheduling can lead to burnout. The impact of this affects their effectiveness and availability for future customers.
  • Revenue Opportunities Missed: Sales teams must demonstrate how their company's solution aligns with the customer’s value expectations. Failing to do so can lead to missed opportunities for upselling or expanding the customer’s engagement.
  • Ineffective Customer Handoff: The sales team should pass all necessary information without gaps to the customer onboarding team. A poor handoff can lead to a disjointed implementation process. Mismanaging this step affects how customers achieve a successful start and long-term satisfaction.

Last 25% Summary

The final 25% of the B2B sales process is more than just a phase of closing deals. This stage of the journey is a critical moment for setting up a successful, long-term customer relationship management. Key things to focus on during this phase are meticulous planning, clear communication, and strategic engagement. Businesses who can ensure a smooth transition to customer onboarding minimize potential risks and sustain customer satisfaction and growth. 

Handling this transition with care reinforces the customer’s decision to choose your solution. Positive customer experiences lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial partnership.

Effective Customer Onboarding and Configuration

After the ink dries on a B2B contract, the focus swiftly shifts to the customer onboarding and configuration phase. The customer success team must transform promises made during the sales process into tangible outcomes. Successful customer onboarding goes beyond mere implementation. Best practices properly align the solution with the customer's specific needs and seamlessly integrating them into their existing workflows.

The Importance of Customer Onboarding

The first true test of a company’s ability to deliver on its commitments begins with customer onboarding. The customer onboarding team collaborates closely with the customer to gather essential information. 

Clear communication is paramount in understanding the customer's unique requirements and customizing the solution to fit their needs. This phase sets the tone for the customer-provider relationship. Regular check-ins, progress updates, and proactive problem-solving build positive customer experiences.

Mutual benefits define success in this phase. The customer begins to see the real-world application of the product or service. The provider solidifies their reputation as a reliable and customer-focused partner. Comprehensive training and customer service are crucial to ensure customers and businesses receive these benefits. 

Customer success strategies must go beyond technical training to include guidance on best practices and optimization strategies. The aim is to educate and empower customers to derive maximum value from their new solution on their own.

Configuration: Tailoring Solutions to Customer Needs

Configuration involves fine-tuning the solution to meet the specific demands of the customer. This may involve customizing features, integrating with existing systems, and adjusting settings to boost efficiency. Collaborative decision-making ensures that the final configuration not only meets the customer's expectations but also enhances their operations.

The configuration process is where the solution becomes truly bespoke. Positive adjustments are often the difference between a good implementation and an exceptional one. The great customer onboarding processes deeply ingratiates the provider with their new customer.

Potential Pitfalls of Mishandling Customer Onboarding and Configuration

However, there are several pitfalls that can undermine the customer onboarding and configuration process:

  • Rocky or Poor Customer Handoff: It is common to overlook this internal step. But not taking it seriously causes confusion. A transition not managed properly from sales to customer onboarding frustrates customers. Unmet expectations set a negative tone for the entire relationship.
  • Poor Communication and Expectation Alignment: Failing to maintain open lines of communication causes gaps and results in missed items. Assumptions without context can lead to confusion and a mismatch between delivered solutions and customer needs.
  • Inadequate Configuration ("Garbage in, Garbage Out"): Poorly configured systems are normally a result of incorrect or incomplete data. Functionality issues reduce the effectiveness of the solution and negatively affect rep adoption. 
  • Accountability Issues: Struggles to gather and share information effectively can lead to accountability issues with team members, affecting the quality of service delivered. Accountability in the form of a customer onboarding checklist is the best way not to miss anything. 
  • Lack of Visibility: Without clear visibility on progress, potential issues can go unaddressed. A Cloudy timeline leads to bigger pain points down the line. Customers loose confidence and get antsy waiting for results. 
  • Extended Launch Timelines: An unsuccessful customer onboarding process can lead to delays in the project timeline. Teams shouldn't wait too long to bring the value of the product or service to the customer. Frustrated customers put a strain on the relationship.
  • Customer Frustration: Any of the above issues can lead to unhappy customers. Unhappy customers talk more than happy ones. These attitudes can tarnish the provider's reputation and impact future business.
  • Revenue Loss: A poor customer onboarding and configuration can lead to direct and indirect revenue loss. Opportunities for customer retention and expansion diminish, hurting your company's bottom line. 
  • Loss of Customers: Perhaps the most severe consequence is losing the customer. Considering the time, effort, and energy in signing the customer, losing one is more costly than ever.  

Customer Onboarding Summary

The customer onboarding and configuration phase can determine the longevity and depth of a customer relationship. The goal is to focus on clear communication, personalized training, and meticulous customization. These practices secure successful integration of a business' solutions into customers’ operations. 

Customer signs help to recognize pitfalls of this phase. Avoiding these common problems is essential to retain customers. Customers who keep coming back during renewal time builds a strong foundation for future growth and collaboration. 

This approach secures the customer's investment and sets the stage for a mutually rewarding partnership. A strong partnership can withstand the challenges of a dynamic business environment.

Navigating the First 120 Days After Deployment

The initial deployment of a B2B solution marks the beginning of a crucial phase in the customer onboarding process. Contrary to common perception, customer onboarding does not conclude at this point. 

Instead, the first 120 days post-deployment are an extension of the customer onboarding journey. This stage is critical for cementing the customer’s trust and satisfaction with the solution. This period often marks the end of the honeymoon phase. The customer is testing the real performance of the solution and its impact on business operations becomes evident.

The Importance of Proactive Engagement

During these initial months, the risk of a “divorce” between the customer and the solution is high. Teams often don't meet expectations and the customer struggles to integrate the new system fully into their operations. Proactive engagement is crucial to navigating this phase successfully. 

Regular check-ins and feedback sessions help businesses address any issues that use of the solution. These interactions also reinforce the customer’s confidence in their decision. Reminding the customer of the value and support that comes with their investment builds that confidence.

Leveraging Analytics and Performance Metrics

Businesses must utilize analytics and performance metrics to prove the customer is gaining the most from their new solution. This data provides insights into how the customer is using the product or service. Reports like these help support teams recognize usage patterns that may indicate successful integration. These stats can also help to build impressive case studies.

On the flip side, the report could highlight areas where the customer may not be leveraging the solution optimally. Such analytics help businesses identify opportunities for further optimization and enhancement of the solution. The hope is to continue growth and alignment with the customer's needs and expectations.

Upselling and Cross-Selling Opportunities

The first 120 days also present a prime opportunity for upselling and cross-selling. A deeper understanding of the customer's evolving needs and challenges is a powerful tool. Through ongoing engagement and analytics, your support team can introduce additional features or services that complement the initial purchase. 

This strategy enhances the overall value proposition and strengthens the customer’s reliance on the solution. Reliance means the customer seeing your product or service as a 'need to have' instead of a 'want to have'. This attitude caused the business relationship to become more robust and multilayered.

Potential Pitfalls of Mishandling the First 120 Days

However, several pitfalls can jeopardize the customer success management of this critical period:

  • Slow Product/Service Adoption: Customers may not start using the product or service extensively soon after deployment. This may indicate issues with the initial training or integration. Slow adoption can hinder the customer's ability to realize the full benefits, impacting their overall satisfaction.
  • Inadequate Configuration and Refinement: The team must perfectly tailor the solution to fit the customer’s business processes. Failure to properly configure and refine the solution based on initial feedback can lead to disappointment and poor adoption.
  • Damaging Relationship Momentum: Momentum built during the sales and initial deployment phases can quickly dissipate. The team must reinforce engagement and customer support to encourage this momentum. This can make them feel neglected and reconsider their decision.
  • Slow or No Return on Investment (ROI): The quickest way to lose a customer’s trust is by failing to deliver a noticeable ROI. Businesses need to demonstrate how the solution is making a positive financial impact.
  • Risking Future Growth Opportunities: Mishandling the initial post-deployment phase can close doors for future growth with the customer. Without establishing a strong foundation, the team is likely to diminish opportunities. Opportunities that would expand the customer’s use of additional services or products are now out of reach.
  • Customer Churn: Ultimately, all these factors can lead to the most detrimental outcome: customer churn. Losing a customer after such a substantial initial investment is a financial loss as well as impacting market reputation.

Post Live Summary

Successfully managing the first 120 days after deployment requires a concerted effort to engage proactively with the customer.  effectively use data to drive decision-making, and seize opportunities to deepen the relationship. These standards help customer onboarding teams build upon the initial promises of the sales phase. Fulfilling these promises leads to sustained customer satisfaction and long-term partnerships.


In conclusion, B2B customer onboarding is a complex, ongoing process that transcends the traditional boundaries of initial customer integration. The crucial final 25% of the sales process lays the initial groundwork. The customer onboarding and configuration phases actualize the commitments made during sales discussions. 

The subsequent first 120 days after deployment are essential for cementing the customer's trust. The hope is to build a customer's satisfaction with the service or product. We encourage you to view these stages collectively as critical components of the customer onboarding process. 

A view of the entire customer journey should focus on effective communication, collaboration, and continuous support. Businesses who achieve this can deliver a stellar customer onboarding experience. Positive customer experiences establish a foundation for enduring customer loyalty and advocacy.

About ProteusEngage

Engage: Simplifying Complex Onboarding for SaaS, Tech, and Professional Services. Discover cutting-edge digital workspaces and smart automation that ensure successful customer onboarding experiences. With Engage, unlock a consistent and repeatable onboarding process.

Proteus Insights Team

Post by Proteus Insights Team

With over 25 years in operation, Proteus has built strong connections with industry leaders across various sectors, products, and services. Our experienced team and loyal clients have enabled us to gain valuable insights from these interactions.