How to Perfect the Sales-to-Customer Onboarding Handoff

By Todd White
Feb 2, 2021

A lot of effort goes into closing a sale, but signing a contract isn’t the end. In fact, it’s just beginning. It’s what happens after the sale that determines what kind of experience your customer will have. This experience will determine whether they will stay your customer for the long-term. A smooth customer onboarding handoff from the sales team to the onboarding team is your best chance to make a good first impression. To set the stage and pull it off, you need protocols that put your clients first and help you meet their needs.

Here are five onboarding do’s and don’ts that will help you perfect the post-sale customer onboarding handoff.

 

Do: Provide Frequent and Transparent Communication

Too often, new customers wait in limbo between the end of the sales process and the beginning of the onboarding process. The sales rep has moved on, but days or even weeks go by before someone from the implementation team gets in touch with the client. If the team being onboarded had little to do with purchasing your product or service, they may be unsure of what it is and why you’re contacting them.

This communication black hole, as we like to call it, doesn’t mean that your onboarding team is just sitting idly by. In fact, you might be hard at work on internal processes like setting up a new project, coordinating with the sales team, and holding internal kickoff calls.

However, if you don’t communicate any of that to your client, they’ll think you just forgot about them. When you do finally get in touch, things will already have started off on the wrong foot.

The solution is to have a plan laid out for your communication from the very beginning of your project. For example, if you integrate your sales CRM (like HubSpot or Salesforce) to your client onboarding solution, you can automatically send a welcome email to your new customer once the deal closes. This should include an overview of what to expect and contact information for the implementation manager.

 

Don’t: Overwhelm New Customers with Too Much Information

Making contact right away is critical to onboarding success, but overwhelming your new customers with too much information can backfire.

A welcome email is a good chance to provide a project overview and make introductions. It’s not the place to include dozens of links to training videos and complicated technical guides. That can be overwhelming. Too many links or attachments can also trigger their spam filter and take you straight to their junk folder.

If you’re able, create a communication process with well-timed emails that give customers the information they need when they need it without making their heads explode.

 

Do: Gather as Much Information as You Can about Your New Customer

To deliver the best customer service, you need to know as much about your new customer as possible. Coordinate with the sales team to find out how the customer got to you, what excited them the most about your product or service, and what they are hoping to get from the onboarding experience.

If you’re using a client onboarding solution, integrate tools like SalesForce and Hubspot to automatically transfer information from the sales team to the customer success team. The platform central repository for relevant documents and ensure nothing gets lost in a manual process.

Gathering this information about your new customer beforehand saves your customer from asking questions twice. It also helps you develop a client onboarding plan that achieves success for you and your customer.

 

Don’t: Make Promises You Can’t Keep

Do you know what your sales team promised during the sales process? Is it something you can deliver? A smooth customer onboarding handoff includes making sure you know what clients are expecting. Once you know that, managing expectations about if—and when—you can deliver it.

How do you set realistic onboarding expectations?

Create a project schedule that outlines every step of your process. Customers need to know exactly what you’ll deliver and what you expect from them to achieve a successful outcome. Include realistic timelines so they know when they’ll be getting it. If you make project steps transparent from the start, you can avoid over-promising and under-delivering.

You can also ensure that customers understand when their tasks are holding up the project—and avoid calling them out during status meetings. Transparency helps keep everyone on the team—internal, customer, and third party—accountable.

If customers are happy with the initial onboarding experience, you can create long-term relationships and positive word-of-mouth that will pay dividends for a long time.

 

Do: Provide the Right Resources

Your customers may have gotten a demo of your product during the sales process, or even had a short-term free trial. But they probably haven’t gotten an in-depth look at what your product or service can do.

The onboarding process is the perfect time to give them one. If you’ve gathered the right information and asked the right questions, you can even tailor this in-depth look to your customer’s definition of success. It’s a great chance to demonstrate how your product or service will get them where they want to go.

 

 

A client onboarding solution can eliminate the communications black hole with automated outreach. They can help outline all the onboarding steps help you set realistic and achievable expectations. They can also show customers how your product can meet their specific needs and help you create valuable long-term relationships.

See how you can improve the sales-to-customer onboarding handoff in your onboarding process by avoiding common mistakes that lead to customer churn.

 

Todd White

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