How to onboard new B2B customers

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Written by Lien Schoutteten - 06/07/2017

In this consumer centric world, customer experience is key and applies as much to B2B as it does to B2C. The B2B sales cycle is often longer and harder to close than in B2C, so making sure you don’t lose those hard-won customers after winning the deal is even more vital. Onboarding new customers allows you to go beyond meeting their expectations and fuels customer retention.

A successful onboarding plan leads to greater customer experience, increased sales and long term success.


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“Across 20 industries, a modest increase in customer experience can generate additional revenues over three years of between $472 million and $824 million for every $1 billion in annual revenue. ROI of Customer Experience, Temkin, Oct 2016”
 

Must-haves to start onboarding

A large part of company resources go to the first stages in the customer lifecycle, to marketing, events and tradeshows, lead generation and sales. But, investing in good onboarding and building long-term loyal relationships with your customers after the first closed-won deal is equally important. There are 4 key must-haves to get in order before you start building an onboarding series for your B2B customers:

  • Know your customers

Successful B2B relationships are built on actionable insights about customer needs and expectations. But, do you understand your customers’ behaviour and motivations? Collecting data in your sales and marketing CRM software will build this picture of your customer and can be used to personalise how you welcome and onboard future customers.

  • Team alignment

Too often there is a disjointed approach between the sales team and other departments in a business. Sales reps set the customer expectations throughout the sales cycle and these expectations can sometimes conflict with reality.
Having bonus-driven sales teams can open the door to overpromising in order to close deals. If the rest of the business is unable to live up to a customer’s expectations in the first weeks and months however, that new customer is quickly disillusioned and dissatisfied. 
Join up your teams and make clear what your product and service can actually deliver, so a new customer receives consistent messages from the get-go and will not be disappointed.

  • Understand customer needs

One single team tasked with onboarding - this could be the CX, support or marketing team in your organisation - can’t possibly hold all knowledge about customers. Finance, sales, marketing, operations and support are all instrumental in determining what a new customer needs. Combine their knowledge with data gathered from your existing customers in CRM to draw up a solid onboarding plan. 
Why not ask those existing customers for feedback to find out where you could improve or look into support tickets and complaints? You may find out that different users of your product have different needs. 
Join up all this knowledge in CRM to send out truly personalised welcome emails.

  • Agree handover process

Define a clear handover process with sales and determine a point in CRM when a closed-won deal progresses to a new customer ready to onboard. This could be as soon as the sale is made, but may be after delivery of your product or service.

Ensure your CRM can make this data actionable and is fully integrated with the marketing automation tool you use so any results and ROI are immediately visible.


 

B2B customer onboarding goals

Clear focus on performance in the first days or weeks of serving new customers can boost the lifetime value of your relationships. Onboarding is all about motivating customers, getting them excited about the value and power of your product or service they’ve just purchased.

  • Educate

Explain some of the features or functionality of your product. Encourage best practices and make it easier for customers to get the most from your product or service.

  • Build trust

Any relationship, even a B2B relationship is based on trust. Helping customers make full use of their new service or product or service can ease that overwhelming feeling of getting started with something new.

  • Increase loyalty

Creating a positive customer experience with your brand leads to long-term loyalty and customer advocacy. Happy customers not only purchase more products, but will spread the word and attract new business for your organisation.

 

Example welcome series

Keep it simple. Don’t try to fit all you have to say or offer into one massive email with multiple calls to action. A series of easy emails is likely much more suited. This example is a 3-email automated welcome series, followed by an automatically scheduled follow-up call, using Gold-Vision marketing automation.

Onboarding new customers
 

  1. Welcome email

Send a personalised welcome or thank you word, signed by your MD. This is also an opportune moment to introduce a customer to their account manager, and get some admin tasks out of the way.

  1. Support or educational email

Advise a new customer on the best way of getting in touch with your support services. Think about this as an opportunity to share some tips and tricks about your product, and empower customers to help themselves.

  1. Event calendar email

Invite your new customers to join you at your next event or tradeshow, it’s always great to meet the people who purchase your product.

  1. Pick up the phone

Nothing beats a personalised check-in with your customer. Schedule a call with them after the first weeks post-purchase and ask them about their experience so far. You may pick up pain points or get an excellent recommendation from them. We’ve been asking our customers to leave a CRM review on Capterra or write a customer success story about using Gold-Vision which has been very successful for us.

 

Onboarding is a continuous process, as your product and customers evolve, so should your process to welcome new customers to your business.