What’s the first step after closing a sale? It’s important to celebrate, but then the real work begins. As soon as you initiate the sales handoff, the customer starts evaluating your company and comparing their experience to what they were promised by the sales team.
A good customer onboarding experience creates an excellent first impression and a foundation for long-term retention. But a poor onboarding experience can cause a new customer to start looking for an alternative before they’ve even had the chance to experience your products or services fully.
There are many resources out there that can help your company close a sale. But finding support for the sales handoff process is more difficult. At GUIDEcx, we’re here to provide the resources you need to give your customers an exceptional onboarding experience that will set the tone for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
Why Is the Customer Onboarding Experience So Important?
Your company’s long-term success doesn’t just depend on the quality of your product or services. The onboarding experience is just as crucial; it gives customers the first opportunity to experience working with your company. The sales-handoff-to-onboarding process is when customers can see whether their actual experience will live up to the expectations set by the sales team.
A seamless sales handoff ensures that customers get the chance to experience all the benefits of working with your company. It minimizes the customer’s time-to-value and allows them to quickly see a return on their investment. New customers may question their choice to work with you and look elsewhere if the transition takes too long. However, a positive sales handoff experience can solidify a customer’s confidence that they chose to partner with your company.
Create a Step-by-Step Sales Handoff Process
What’s the overall goal of the sales-to-onboarding handoff? Think about it from your customer’s perspective; this is when they learn how to implement and use your products or services and start experiencing all the benefits they heard about from your sales team.
A successful onboarding experience should be efficient and transparent. You want to make sure that your clients experience a seamless switch from working with your sales team to your onboarding team. They shouldn’t have to wonder who their points of contact are or how long they’ll have to wait before they can start using what they purchased. Likewise, the process should be completely clear to your team so that everyone understands their tasks and how their work fits into the overall procedure.
One of the most common issues that customers face during onboarding is a lack of communication. Many clients get used to frequent communication with the sales team and then experience radio silence during their transition to the customer service team.
Your team may be working hard on setting things up and preparing for a good customer onboarding experience, but the client doesn’t know any of that. All they get is a sudden drop in communication. They might not even know who they can contact to ask questions or request a status update.
When this happens, customers (understandably) feel forgotten. They might start to wonder whether they made the right decision to work with your company. A frustrated customer may start questioning the trustworthiness of your sales team, and they might even start thinking about leaving.
Fortunately, you can address all these challenges by improving communication during sales handoff and customer onboarding. This is an excellent opportunity for automation. Start with an automated welcome email that includes all the details the client needs, including contact information for the customer service team. This email should also outline all the steps in the onboarding process so the customer knows exactly what to expect.
Understand the Client
It’s frustrating to feel misunderstood, but many clients experience that during the sales handoff. They’ve spent a lot of time talking about their goals and processes with your sales team, and the last thing they want is to repeat all those conversations with your customer onboarding team.
Make sure you have a reliable way to gather information about the customer. This should involve getting notes directly from the sales team so the customer doesn’t feel like they are going through the same Q&A process all over again. You can also leverage CRM tools; the GUIDEcx platform integrates with SalesForce and HubSpot, making it easier for your sales team to pass along critical information to onboarding and implementation team members.
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Adriti Gulati, Inbound Professor for HubSpot Academy, details how improving onboarding leads to better insights.
Set Expectations Early
It’s vital to make sure that every stakeholder has the same understanding of the customer onboarding process. That means your sales, training, implementation, and customer service teams as well as the customer. Start by checking with the sales team to understand what they promised the client and how they portrayed the onboarding and implementation phases.
Then, develop a solid plan to meet those expectations. That means establishing a realistic timeline and conveying it to your team members and the customer. With GUIDEcx’s onboarding platform, you can create and share a detailed onboarding schedule with everyone. This level of transparency ensures that all stakeholders understand critical steps, assigned tasks, and deadlines. It also means that customers don’t have to request status updates from your team manually; they can always see exactly where they are in the process.
Provide Critical Resources
Finally, ensure you provide your customer with all the information and resources they need. Even if they got to demo your products or services during the sales process, it’s vital to give them access to the full version as quickly as possible. The sooner that happens, the faster a customer can start experiencing all the benefits they were promised.
In other words, focus on reducing time-to-value as much as possible so your clients can quickly see a return on their investment. There are several ways to shorten TTV:
- Develop a thorough training program that highlights all the features and benefits of your products.
- Provide training resources early, but customize those materials for each client. A customized training program ensures that each customer gets all the essential information they need without having to wade through pages of boilerplate documentation or irrelevant details. These resources can be a mix of living training and self-guided lessons.
- Automate the information dissemination process so your customer gets regular emails with the information they need at each step of the process. This supports a high level of engagement and avoids overwhelming them with too much documentation all at once.
Improving customer success rates is all about optimizing the sales handoff and onboarding processes.
Avoid Common Sales Handoff Mistakes
Customer satisfaction isn’t just about your product design or service offerings; a client’s experience is just as important. You need to make sure that your customers have a positive experience every time they interact with your team members. A disorganized or lengthy onboarding process can quickly sour customers on your company and encourage them to find another provider.
Here are some of the most common causes of an unsatisfactory customer experience:
- Not fulfilling the promises that the sales team made, including the expectations they set for the onboarding process
- Missing deadlines and delaying implementation or deployment to the customer
- Failing to provide the customer with a clear understanding of the handoff and onboarding procedure, including their responsibilities and deadlines
- Providing inadequate training that doesn’t address the customer’s unique goals and needs
Delivering a positive onboarding experience is all about setting clear expectations and then meeting them.
GUIDEcx Facilitates a Seamless Sales Handoff to Customer Onboarding Experience
At GUIDEcx, we give you the tools and resources you need to improve your customers’ experience during sales handoff and onboarding. Our platform makes it easy for you to create an exceptional first impression and significantly reduce each client’s time-to-value.
The GUIDEcx platform is specifically designed for customer onboarding and implementation. You don’t have to try to co-opt various portions of project management tools or CRM software, which aren’t optimized for handoff and onboarding. With GUIDEcx, you can consistently onboard clients faster, improve communication, support on-time delivery, and automate critical processes (e.g., status updates) to reduce man-hours and eliminate human errors.
With GUIDEcx, your customers get access to a clear, step-by-step overview of the onboarding process. They can see the current status and get automatic notifications when tasks are assigned or completed. Our software also makes it easier to notify clients of their responsibilities, so onboarding doesn’t lag behind because a customer isn’t aware that your team is waiting on them.
Sales handoff, onboarding, and implementation can be complicated processes. We’re here to guide you and your team through them so you can then lead your customers to success.
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