Congratulations! You just landed a new client. After celebrating the win, the real work begins and it usually begins with a kickoff meeting. The kickoff meeting sets the tone for the relationship. Go in with an attitude that whatever the client wants, regardless of scope or reason, will be accommodated without evaluation and your staff will quickly come to resent both you and that client, who will definitely take advantage of the extra service for which they don’t pay. It’s a good deal on their part. Go in with an attitude that the client owes you a favor for accepting their business and the client will move to a more appreciative vendor or consultant.
Writing for HubSpot, Jami Oetting comments that the kickoff meeting serves as your primary benchmark for client onboarding. It’s a succinct term that encompasses the conversation in which the major stakeholders discuss the scope of work and get everyone involved on the same page. The conversation should help you “create a marketing plan, define a list of priorities, and reaffirm the goals uncovered and agreed to during the sales process.”
At the end of the meeting, every attendee should leave the room knowing what the client wants to accomplish. The how can be adjusted. The what determines how much your staff can do and how much you’ll need to outsource. The what determines the scope of the project and whether that scope exceeds the limitations of the contract for service. Understand this at the outset or you’ll set your business up for failure and your client for disappointment.
Tripp Braden, writing for the Market Leadership Journal, states that getting to know what your client really wants to accomplish means asking pertinent, probing questions. Listen for comprehension. Do not listen to reply. Why does the client want to accomplish a particular goal? What will the impact be on the client’s life and business? Does the client’s agenda support his or her personal or professional mission and/or vision? Braden says that when a vendor supports the client’s agenda, the client is more likely to accord that vendor “expert status” and inquire about other areas of expertise that the vendor offers. In short, these explorations can set your business up for additional work.
Goals, says Oetting, should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound. This means that the contract for service may not accommodate everything the client wants to do, nor will it run forever. Identification of challenges obstructing fulfillment of the client’s agenda may affect the project scope and deadline. In such a scenario, the client and vendor must then negotiate adjustment of the agenda and the scope of service.
Once the team understands the agenda, the work begins to analyze the tasks necessary to accomplish the goals in order to determine to process for achievement.
The Heggen Group specializes in client onboarding. We help our clients understand their clients’ needs and establish the processes that integrate client projects into the existing workload. We create feasible processes that guide achievement.