Few things drive as much urgency and eagerness as those that involve pursuing a new client relationship. Countless tools and best practices are out there to streamline the process, support transparency, make everyone in the sales and marketing organization accountable, and more.
That said, companies and their sales teams can sometimes devote so much focus to getting a deal done that they actually lose sight of what happens when the deal is closed, including the actual monetization opportunity and profitability of the new relationship. Consider the following points:
- Discounted Client Onboarding Fees: It’s common for organizations to discount client onboarding or setup fees or waive them altogether during the sales process. However, onboarding costs are to be expected, especially in complex B2B enterprise settings. According to a recent study by Forrester Consulting, even after incorporating client and industry variability, new client onboarding can cost $25,000 and take 34 weeks to complete.
- Client Not on Board: Although it may sound counterintuitive, clients don’t always have the incentive to accelerate the onboarding process. There are many reasons this may be the case. Perhaps the client reps responsible for implementation aren’t the ones who made the deal and thus might not be entirely supportive of it. Or, the client’s team might simply be overloaded with other priorities, which keeps pushing onboarding the new solution on a backburner.
- Onboarding Team At Capacity: The solution provider’s team may not have the bandwidth to take on yet another project. There could be many reasons for that, including the very-effective above-mentioned sales team, potential loss of onboarding staff, or other onboarding projects that had gone out of scope. Reduced onboarding capacity may drive up the backlog and risk clients contemplating other options to pursue.
- Financial Impact Unknown: The solution provider’s team might not have the information they need to appreciate the potential financial impact of the client relationship at stake. Because of this, they might not have the sense of urgency or incentive to get them up and running as soon as possible.
Have you ever sat in a restaurant, waiting endlessly for a meal that never seemed to arrive? You don’t want your clients to feel that way when they’re dealing with you. As more time elapses between the closing of the deal and the start of the onboarding process, the greater the likelihood the client might lose patience and ask for reduced fees or decide not to proceed with the implementation altogether.
That’s why it’s essential to accelerate the monetization of the new client relationship early to encourage faster adoption. These ideas will help:
1. Don’t throw away those setup fees 🙂
Both your team and your new client should understand just how much effort it will take (on both sides) to implement a solution so that said client can begin taking full advantage of it. It’s important to ensure the client is provided with clear and transparent insights about the nature and expense of the process so they’re not taken by surprise.
Add onboarding fees (and associated incentives) to the sales compensation and be confident that the client clearly understands the financial and time impact of the changes of the scope. This will help ensure that they are on board with the expectations from the get-go.
2. Have a well-mapped-out onboarding process
The onboarding process may require quite a bit of data-gathering and client involvement. With this in mind, it’s smart to start these steps as soon as possible.
How you go about designing the specifics of the onboarding process at this stage will depend to some extent on the size and makeup of your team. You’ll always have to consider these practical details when making onboarding plans. For instance, you may assign the initial data gathering and associated follow-up to more junior team members. This will allow senior team members to devote more time to implementation when the time to do so arrives.
3. Keep it transparent for the client
It’s important to remember that promising the world to the client will disappoint them in the long run if you fail to deliver on those promises. If capacity is limited, set up realistic expectations on the onboarding team's availability during the sales process.
Let’s say you’re currently facing a backlog. It may be best to let the client know what to expect and to give them “homework” they can complete in the meanwhile to boost your overall efficiency. You’ll be more likely to earn a client’s confidence if you don’t leave any room for unwelcome surprises.
4. Address the change management issue
Change management often results in unnecessary delays when cultivating a relationship with a new client. One way to address this is, along with setting clear expectations, to keep all parties accountable upfront on the amount of time and effort the client needs to do their side of things, such as providing onboarding data. All parties should also be encouraged to check on the overall progress regularly, offering any feedback that could speed up the rollout plan.
Work to structure your deals where there is an incentive for the client to collaborate. For instance, recurring fees may start 90 days after the project officially kicks off. This ensures the client knows the clock is ticking for them.
5. After the sale is made - your client onboarding team holds the baton
The onboarding team has to have visibility of what is impacted by their work - how much actual revenue is at stake. You need to motivate them to complete the implementation as quickly and proficiently as possible.
Make your client onboarding team a part of the success formula and arm them with the proper tools to do their job. If you do, they will help ensure that the new client relationship will end up as fruitful in reality as it appears on the board deck.
6. Keep track of the scope
Scope creep has real costs. To minimize its impact, keep an eye out for red flags.
For instance, maybe the client added more requirements and made some modification requests. While it is important to be flexible in aligning your solution with the client’s needs, if there is no clear end in sight, this project will burn through your resources and never get off the ground.
7. The rollout should always be in the picture
The quicker the client can start experiencing the benefits and value of the new solution, the likelier they are to stick around and stay loyal to your offerings. Even if the rollout to the client’s organization is “somewhere on the horizon,” work to make it tangible, collaborating on the rollout process, helping with the client’s team training, and asking for ongoing feedback.
8. Never stop looking for more opportunities
Ensuring you fully appreciate a customer’s needs benefits your teams in many ways. Along with simply helping you make the right impression on a new customer, familiarizing yourself with their specific goals can also help you identify opportunities for cross-selling and upselling throughout the onboarding process and beyond. This can boost the profitability of your relationship with a new client.
9. Automate by using the proper tools
Driving monetization via your customer onboarding program isn’t merely about bringing in more revenue. It’s also about saving money whenever possible, being strategic, and planning ahead.
One way to achieve this goal is to automate tasks. At the end of every new customer onboarding process, then review said process carefully to determine which steps can be automated without negatively impacting the client experience.
Just remember that proper automation requires the proper tools. Using the right tools will also help you identify the bottlenecks, understand seasonal trends, etc.
And, as always, measure! Implementing the tips here will help you improve your approach to monetizing new customer onboarding. That said, you always need to monitor your progress to determine what does and doesn’t deliver the strongest possible results.