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5 tips for client onboarding

How do you onboard your new clients? Do you have a set process in place? It’s time to start onboarding like a pro.

A  lot of agencies don’t have a set onboarding process in place. Even those who do might not have something solid enough to make their clients excited about working with them.

I know why this is the case.

Creating an onboarding process takes time you don’t have.

That’s where this article comes in. I’m going to show you the Five Hot Principles behind onboarding like a pro. But first, let’s take a deeper look at the issue.

The Problems

Here’s what happens when your onboarding doesn’t work.

You’ve signed a contract and you’re super happy.

What happens next?

You don’t have any steps to follow once you’ve reached this point. Because you don’t have a clear plan in place, you’re not communicating with the client.

That means you have no idea how you’re going to move forward together.

One big problem that I see in a lot of agencies is that they keep reinventing the wheel. They’re creating new processes for every single client, repeating the same work whenever they sign somebody up.

They start dragging their feet. They don’t want to spend 30 minutes writing a welcome email or however long it takes to put together materials.

The process gets dragged out and they lose momentum.

That means they’re burning out their goodwill with the client. The second you start to delay your client is the second their excitement starts going down.

You’ll need that goodwill at some point in your project. Onboarding is not the time to use it.

The Opportunities

If you get it right, you have the opportunity to build clarity and confidence in your next step. That means you can make onboarding happen faster and take away a lot of the work.

You’re going to use tools and processes to ensure you’re not doing everything from scratch every time you onboard someone.

You’re going to save time by reusing what works.

You’ll also have the chance to start every project strong. From the moment you sign the agreement, you’ll show the client that you’re professional, organized, and you know what you’re doing.

You’re not building your goodwill equity by ghosting and delaying.

Instead, you’re increasing it with your onboarding and building momentum for the project.

The Five Hot Principles

The faster you get your clients onboarded, the faster you can start delivering results.

Your clients will love you because you’re moving them toward their ideal situation faster. Plus, you’re saving time you can use to improve other aspects of your agency.

You just have to put the work in once to create the process and you’re golden.

I’ve got Five Hot Principles that will help you to onboard like a pro.

Hot Principle #1 – Inventory the Needs and Dos

What do you need?

What does your client need?

What do you need to do?

What does your client need to do?

These are the four questions you need to ask when creating an onboarding process. You’re aiming to identify everything that you and your client need to get this thing started. 

This is all of the stuff you’ve got to cover before you have the kickoff meeting.

In my world, there’s usually a one or two-week gap between signing the agreement and doing the kickoff.

That gap is all about collecting the pieces that we’ll need. When we do the kickoff meeting, we’re going to put all of those pieces together to create the plan.

When you create an inventory of all of this stuff, you’re showing the client that you’re organized. They’re thinking that you’ve got all of this down every step of the way. 

You don’t want to go through all of that stuff during the kickoff meeting.

Think about what Ben Franklin said:

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

The idea is to just dump out all of the puzzle pieces and decide which ones need to go into your onboarding process.

I used to shoot videos with restaurants and they loved showing how they put recipes together. What always impressed me was how quickly the chefs cooked these meals.

The secret was that they had everything in the right place ahead of time. They knew what equipment they needed and had the ingredients prepared beforehand.

That’s what you’re doing here. You’re getting everything that you need for the recipe prepared so you can jump right into making things happen with the kickoff call.

Hot Principle #2 – Map Your Sequence

Again, you’re going to ask a bunch of questions here.

What’s going to happen when somebody buys?

What needs to happen before the kickoff?

You can work backward or forward to figure this stuff out. But at the end of the day, you have the start, which is when they sign the agreement. And you have your end, which is the kickoff meeting and when you start putting the pedal to the metal.

Map out everything that has to happen between those two points to onboard your clients.

Over the last few years, I’ve hired a lot of agencies to work on marketing, advertising, and all sorts of things. There are two agencies I’ve worked with that operate in the same niche.

The first had awesome reviews but I could tell that they were winging it in their onboarding. It was like every project was a unique snowflake to them. It basically ended up taking 45 days to get any value from that agency.

The other agency took just 20 days to get value. When we signed up, we received emails and we had an orientation. They had a sequence that took us from A to B.

Which do you think was more appreciated?

Hot Principle #3 – Outline Your Welcome Communication

Your welcome email is the perfect opportunity to get your client even more excited about working with you. But more importantly, it’s the launching pad for your entire onboarding sequence.

Give the client a central email communication that tells them:

  • What they need to know
  • What you need from them
  • What they need from you
  • What they need to do

Introduce them to the key stakeholders working on the account. Send across any forms that you need them to fill out and tell them about any tools they need to know about. Assume that they don’t have Slack accounts or anything like that. Tell them about the tools you use and what they need to set up.

Make it super crisp and actionable so they can just check each task off the list.

Finally, instruct your client on what they need to do if they need help. It could be that they reply to the email you sent or a different email. Maybe they need to hit you up on Slack or call a phone number.

Just make sure they have that information and encourage them to reach out if they get stuck.

Hot Principle #4 – Leverage Tools, Automation, and Team to Save Time

Once you have the process down, look for opportunities to cut out as many manual steps as possible. The goal is to polish out the need for any custom parts.

Look at the custom steps you’re creating for each client and ask if there’s a way to automate them in your onboarding process.

This can take an investment of time and resources to get set up. However, it will pay dividends in the long run.

There are all sorts of tools out there for you to use:

  • Google Forms can help with onboarding and orientation stuff.
  • Zapier can help you to hook things together.
  • A CRM, like Infusionsoft, can help you to nail down the communication process.

Hot Principle #5 – Make it Fun

You want to make the process fun, like sparklers on a cupcake.

We all know that cupcakes are amazing. But have you ever had one with sparklers on it? It’s even more amazing.

The cupcake doesn’t taste any better but you have a lot more fun eating it.

Realize that your clients have to do a bunch of homework with your onboarding. Try to find ways to liven it up a little bit.

Do simple things here, like adding funny images to your welcome and reminder emails. Find ways to bring a smile to the client’s face so they don’t feel guilty about not getting to something that you need from them.

It’s Time to Get to Work

It may take an investment of time to put all of this stuff together. But once it’s done, it’s ready to use for every client that you have. You’re not going to have to treat them all to a custom experience.

You’ll have a faster way to keep them happy after they sign up. And when you hit kickoff, you’ll already have momentum that you can build on.

Now, it’s time to put all of this into practice.

That’s what UACADEMY is for. 

If you want to find out if we’re a good fit, schedule your agency growth session with us today.



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