In the dynamic landscape of B2B transactions, where the relationship between a company and their client goes beyond a mere transaction, effective client onboarding plays a pivotal role. Despite the common belief that client onboarding is in its own silo, the sales and client success phases of the customer journey have a large effect on the success of client onboarding. This article delves into the intricacies of each phase, highlighting their significance and exploring how businesses can optimize their strategies for seamless customer onboarding.
The Last 25% of the Sale:
The last 25% of a B2B sale sets the tone for the entire client onboarding journey. At this juncture, the focus shifts from convincing the customer to make a purchase to ensuring the sale sticks via a smooth transition into the phases of onboarding. Clear expectations must be set regarding timelines, deliverables, and any potential challenges that may arise during the implementation process.
During this phase, the sales team contributes to fostering trust and transparency. Open communication channels, a thorough understanding of the customer's needs, and defining what success means are essential. This is also the time to address any requirements the customer may have and provide necessary resources or documentation to ensure a successful onboarding process. This also is typically when SMEs (subject or technical matter experts) join the conversation to ensure alignment and success.
By building a strong alignment through a detailed sales handoff, your onboarding team can facilitate a positive customer experience. The last 25% of the sale acts as a bridge between the promises made during the sales process and the tangible value that the customer will receive through the product or service.
Onboarding and Configuration:
Once the deal is signed, the focus shifts to onboarding and configuration, a phase where the promises made during the sales process must be transformed into a tangible reality. Successful client onboarding is not just about implementing the product or service; it's about aligning the solution with the customer's specific needs and ensuring a seamless integration into their existing workflow.
During this phase, clear communication remains paramount. The onboarding team must collaborate closely with the customer to gather essential information, understand their unique requirements, and customize the solution accordingly. Regular check-ins, progress updates, and proactive problem solving contribute to a positive onboarding experience. Success is mutual.
Teams should provide comprehensive training and support resources to empower customers to make the most of the new solution. This includes not only technical training but also guidance on best practices and optimization strategies. The goal is to empower the customer to independently navigate and derive value from the newly acquired product or service.
Configuration, on the other hand, involves tailoring the solution to meet the specific needs of the customer. This may include customization of features, integration with existing systems, and fine-tuning settings to maximize efficiency. Collaborative decision-making between the customer and the onboarding team ensures that the final configuration aligns with the customer's objectives and enhances their overall experience.
The First 120 Days After Deployment:
The onboarding process doesn't conclude when the client is set up with your solution. The first 120 days after deployment are a critical extension of the customer onboarding journey. The honeymoon phase of the new client is over and now the client evaluates the actual performance of the solution and gauges its impact on their business operations.
Proactive engagement during this period is key to avoid a “divorce”. Regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and support services help address anything holding them back from fully utilizing the solution and reinforce the customer's confidence in their decision. Businesses should leverage analytics and performance metrics to assess the customer's usage patterns and identify opportunities for further optimization.
Additionally, the first 120 days provide an opportunity for upselling and cross-selling. By understanding the customer's evolving needs and challenges, businesses can introduce additional features or services that complement the initial purchase, thereby enhancing the overall value proposition.
In conclusion, B2B customer onboarding is a multifaceted process that extends past what you know as the onboarding phase. The last 25% of the sale sets the stage, onboarding and configuration bring promises to fruition, and the first 120 days after deployment solidify the customer's trust and satisfaction. Businesses that prioritize these three phases as “onboarding” and invest in effective communication, collaboration, and ongoing support will not only ensure a successful client onboarding experience but also lay the groundwork for long-term customer loyalty and advocacy.
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