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Three Ways to Set the Stage for Customer Onboarding

December 11, 2018 | By Amy Bills

  • As new buyers become customers, smooth onboarding should be a top priority to set the stage for value achievement, retention and growth
  • B-to-b organizations should consider what information to transfer from the buying process, how it will be shared and who is responsible for sharing it
  • Sales and customer success, in particular, play an important role in building the foundation for effective onboarding

A firm handshake and a clear statement of the conversation’s purpose from someone you’re about to have a meeting with are reliable signs that it’s going to go well. Similarly, a smooth onboarding process for new customers has a direct impact on product adoption, product usage, achievement of value, customer retention, and the creation of opportunities for growth and advocacy. Both scenarios set the stage for a productive relationship.


Look for these warning signs to determine if your organization has room to improve its customer onboarding:

A clear connection between sales and customer success ensures smooth onboarding that’s reliable, consistent and scalable, and solves for those warning signs above. Although sales and customer success are by no means the only functions involved here, their relationship is crucial. Sales possesses information from the buying cycle that’s highly relevant to the new customer’s pain, capabilities and expectations. Customer success can translate that information into a game plan that drives short- and long-term value achievement for the customer.

When planning the execution of an onboarding program, organizations should consider:

  • Knowledge transfer. The buying process typically reveals information about the new customer at the account level and contact level. This includes explicit data such as names, emails, roles within the organization, titles and previous experience with the company, as well as segment and geographical data. It also includes information about the customer’s needs and expectations. What led the customer to consider the purchase? Is the customer solving a problem, seizing an opportunity or both? What does the customer expect from this new relationship? Just as that information was important to the sales rep, it’s important to those who now need to nurture and grow the customer relationship.
  • Roles and responsibilities. If the selling organization is not aligned on ownership of onboarding, no one will be more acutely aware of that dropped ball than the customer, who’s left wondering what to do next. Sales and customer success must agree on clear roles and responsibilities for key tasks to enable and execute onboarding.
  • Accessibility of information. Information that’s captured but not conveyed in an easily accessible and reliable format is like a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it. Organizations should prioritize infrastructure (e.g. sales force automation) that allows the knowledge discussed above to be captured and shared. Data from the SiriusDecisions Command Center® shows that more than 70 percent of organizations also have specific software in place for customer success management.

In the brief “From Buyer to Customer: Building Blocks for a Smooth Transition,” we review the building blocks for a seamless transition from buyer’s journey to post-sale customer lifecycle. This includes not only customers that are new to the organization, but also existing customers buying a new or more advanced solution. Paying close attention to the requirements, roles and responsibilities for a smooth and comprehensive onboarding process sets the b-to-b organization up for a successful long-term relationship with its clients.

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Amy Bills

Amy Bills is a research director of Customer Engagement Strategies at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 13 years of experience in demand marketing and customer marketing, including senior marketing roles at innovative b-to-b technology organizations as well as b-to-b marketing agency leadership roles. Follow Amy on Twitter @AmySilverBills

The SiriusDecisions Customer Lifecycle Framework

The SiriusDecisions Customer Lifecycle Framework

<p>Customer engagement leaders build the business case for investment in the post-sale experience, and define how... Download Now
<p>Customer engagement leaders build the business case for investment in the post-sale experience, and define how to measure the business impact of that investment. The SiriusDecisions Customer Lifecycle Framework supports these efforts by providing a framework for identifying gaps and ensuring full customer lifecycle support. Four phases make up the framework from two points of view: the company... Download Now
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