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As a CSM, you have a direct influence on the success of your clients. The sooner you can get the ball rolling on setting your customers up for success, the better, which is why pre-onboarding is so important. This practice enables you to not only help your customers get off to a great start with your product or service, but also begin laying the foundation for a strong, positive and mutually beneficial relationship. Let’s take a look at three essential components of successful pre-onboarding.
Develop, document and strengthen plans for customer lifecycle.
Well-defined and documented customer lifecycle plans facilitate greater, long-term client success. Start by outlining your current process to identify friction points and areas where improvements can and should be made. Use this to create a list of at least 2-3 actionable items that you can tackle.
As you hone your process, be sure to document it well. This will eventually enable you to develop internal training that will help optimize the time spent with new customers. Create standardized templates for each step of the onboarding process.
Finally, implement the work you’ve done. And keep in mind it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it should be a work in progress, but at least you’ll have something to start with.
Ensure customer onboarding readiness.
One thing that has revolutionized and redefined the CSM role is the amount of and ease-of-access to a huge volume of valuable customer data. The more information you can gather and analyze, the more you can improve to better serve your clientele.
It’s important to remember that different touch-points of data collection have different purposes. For instance, sales development is tasked with acquiring and validating new leads while post-sales (CRMs and others) are more focused on nurturing and maintaining those relationships for client retention purposes. Each touch-point, however, can and should influence what information is collected.
For example, as part of their own discovery process, pre-sales can collect information that is critical to successful onboarding. This data may include:
- System requirements, integrations, and limitations
- Contacts involved throughout the sales process
- Relationship limitations or risks
Understanding the various different touch-points along with the relevant data you should be collecting at each of those points will help to ensure customer onboarding readiness.
From there, CSMs can dig deeper by creating and implementing an onboarding readiness survey to capture additional details, such as:
- Owner or key contact
- Other noteworthy stakeholders
- Who they report to
- Business objectives (i.e. how they can be successful because of their relationship with you)
- Current pain points
- Timelines and/or constraints
- What they hope to achieve and how quickly
With this information in hand, you’ll be much better prepared to kick off your new client relationships. Step by step, this process might involve:
- Reviewing the results of the onboarding readiness survey and identifying additional info to be collected
- Reiterating your role in the relationship
- Meeting with the client to go over the results and identify and discuss next steps
- Developing an outline of the anticipated onboarding / customer lifecycle plan
- Explaining what resources are available to make the customer experience even better
Identify key contacts and influencers.
The third essential component of successful pre-onboarding is identifying key individuals and influencers beyond your main point of contact. This is important because those who hold purchasing power aren’t necessarily going to be the ones who own implementation.
Rather than have your entire relationship hinge on one or two contacts, broaden your scope to develop as many relationships within your customer’s organization as possible. This will not only strengthen your overall relationship, but it’ll also enable you to uncover new opportunities to add value that might eventually lead to expansion revenue.
At a minimum, you should make an effort to track the following:
- Implementation owner or key contact
- Who those individuals report to
- Other key stakeholders
Identify those who have as much influence as possible and work to develop relationships with them as well.
As a CSM, you are tasked with setting your customers up for long-term success. By implanting the above pre-onboarding tips, you can help your clientele hit the ground running to achieve more positive results faster and develop more meaningful relationships in the process.
Are you looking to build a rockstar CSM team? Or looking for your next CSM role? Get in touch to find out how we can help!