A Successful Onboarding

Best Practices

The handoff of new customers from sales to customer success seems straightforward, but if handled improperly, can have a lasting impact on your relationship with your customer. First impressions are critical to building a successful, long-term relationship with your customer.

We’ve broken this up into two phases: Due Diligence and Connection. Each phase has two, straightforward steps to help you get started!

Due Diligence

Your first step when receiving a new account is to learn about them. This seems fairly simple — but with all the resources available (Google, Salesforce, Crunchbase, etc) it can quickly become overwhelming without a set process. As part of your Hand Off process, set aside a defined time period to complete this part. The amount of time you’ll need to set aside will vary depending on how high touch your relationship model is. There are two steps to Due Diligence:

  1. Fact Finding — leverage external, free resources that are easily at your disposal
  2. Needs Discovery — aligning customer success goals with sales best practices to make customers successful

Step 1: Fact Finding

Your first step is fact finding. Learn who your new customer is- both your point(s) of contact and the organization itself. Use free resources like their company website, LinkedIn, Owler, and Crunchbase to learn more about their company profile. Check their website and search for recent news articles and press releases. Customer success is about more than just product adoption and account management. Your goal is to become a valuable resource to your customers so that they look forward to your calls, rather than the first meeting to get bumped on a busy day.

Get to know their company and industry. Consider what their professional goals may be, based on their use case. Compare them to successful use cases in their segment so you’re prepared to share examples and expertise. If you’re too early on to have such use cases, think critically and creatively about which best practices will benefit this individual customer. Be sure to record these thoughts where your customer communication data lives!

Step 2: Needs Discovery

Needs discovery is vital to successful sales process, so they’ve likely done the heavy lifting for you. Salespeople must engage a variety of stakeholders, learn each of their priorities and tailor engagements. For your sales team to successfully close a deal, they learn what the impetus to purchase is and what type of solutions will be valuable. Salespeople ask probing questions and discuss their prospect’s goals to make an intelligent decision about whether the individual use case is a good fit. You, as the Customer Success Manager, can benefit enormously from these conversations.

Get all the sales notes — wherever they may live. If it seems notes are missing, follow up with the salesperson. Read every single note from every single conversation they have had with your newest customer. Read email exchanges and use free tools to get insight into their communication style — this will all help you tailor your engagements to fit their needs. I love Crystal Knows for email based insights. It a free plugin that let For more insights on adjusting your writing style to match your customer, check out Crystal Knows. Their free plug-in analyzes writing styles to help create a personalized engagement and improve your communication style.

In addition to reading sales notes, schedule a 5–15 minute conversation with your salesperson to make sure there are no major needs you may have missed. It can be easy to get caught up chatting, especially in the early days when your salesperson may sit in the same room as you and every new customer is super exciting. We tend to be more cognizant of our time when an event is formally scheduled. Create a calendar invite to block off a defined time frame in order to hold yourself accountable.

Use Calendly for efficient scheduling.

Calendly allows you to create your own custom, highly personalized event options and provides links to share these. Share the link with your sales team and boom! You guys just eliminated all the back-and-forth to schedule a time.


Step 3: Personalized Introduction

The next step in your customer’s journey is to meet you! Schedule a call with your salesperson and customer as soon as you have a signed contract in hand. This call should be fairly brief — I recommend 15–30 minutes. You have two goals for this call:

  1. Personalized Introduction: Build a rapport and establish yourself as a valuable, easily accessible resource
  2. Set expectations: Discuss timelines and set expectations for KickOff, Implementation and Onboarding

Step 4: Setting Expectations

Go over the typical implementation and onboarding process with your new customer. It doesn’t have to be too in-depth — you don’t want to overwhelm them with details. Make sure to hit the highlights, though. Share what the typical timeline is, the number of calls you’ll need to schedule. Let them know which stakeholders from both of your companies will be necessary to a smooth, successful implementation and onboarding.

Understand Pain Points

Last but certainly not least, why did your customer actually buy your solution in the first place? What were their hot buttons or pain points? What did they absolutely love about your solution or services offering? Were there specific features that kept coming up in conversations through the sales process? Did any of the stakeholders work with one of your competitors that offered other features or value-adds. Or, even better, does your solution offer benefits that they haven’t had before? Perhaps 24–7 call-in support, a dedicated customer success manager, or key features that will make their jobs easier and more efficient? If your customer purchased your solution with these factors in mind, it’s important to ensure these are addressed. And if something goes wrong in the process, make sure to confront the customer immediately and make the situation right.

Originally published at docs.google.com.

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