The excitement of signing a new client is palpable. You have the opportunity to expand your knowledge of a new industry and deliver new results. You have new revenue coming in, as well as unfamiliar challenges. It’s a hopeful, albeit fraught, time.
Unfortunately, many businesses underestimate the importance of the onboarding process. A mishandled onboarding process can have lasting effects not only on your relationship with the new client, but also on the success of the work you do for them.
We’ve written about some of the tenets of a successful onboarding process before; now we’ve decided to outline a few important questions to ask during the process.
These questions will not only help you get to know your client and familiarize yourself with their goals; they will also provide insight into your new client’s motivations and communication styles, as well as what they ultimately hope to achieve from working with you.
Question 1: What Is Your Motivation for Doing What You Do?
If your client wasn’t interested in expanding and improving their business, they wouldn’t have partnered with you. Learn those motivations; what are they passionate about? What inspires them to do better? Why did they enter their industry?
These are vital pieces of information that can help you locate your client’s motivations, goals and style.
Question 2: What Campaigns or Processes Are You Already Implementing?
It’s also important to know what practices your client is already implementing or has implemented in the past. Assess their existing campaigns and projects. Were they successful? Did they fail? How and why?
This information will help you gauge your client’s enthusiasm about certain processes or techniques. It will also give insight into how they quantify success and failure.
Question 3: What Challenges Have You Faced in the Past?
How has your client stumbled in the past? What are the potential pitfalls or threats within their industry?
This information is vital to helping you understand your new client’s unique point of view, especially if you don’t have previous experience within that industry.
It will also help give insight into how they deal with crisis. How did they adjust to the realized or impending threat? Was it a serious setback or a minor adjustment?
This will give you some insight into how your client deals with challenges and disappointments. Do they throw in the towel and move on or do they persist?
Question 4: What is Your Greatest Current Challenge?
What is your client’s biggest complaint? What do they need the most help accomplishing? When you know what their number one gripe is, you can head into the implementation process with their biggest issue at the forefront of your mind. Which leads us to...
Question 5: How Do You See Us Helping You?
As we said before, your client wouldn’t have partnered with you if they didn’t see a possibility for improvement.
What does that improvement look like? What role do they see your company fulfilling in helping them on the path to meeting their goals?
This information will help you gauge whether or not your client sees you as a long-term partner or a short-term solution. Are they expecting service and skills from you that you aren’t capable of providing?
When each of you communicates your vision beforehand, you can make those needed adjustments before the working relationship comes to fruition.
Question 6: What Results Are You Expecting?
Discrepancies between expectation and reality are one of the main sources of strife between businesses and their clients. That’s why it’s vital to establish clear expectations on behavior, communication and deliverables.
Does the client expect you to double their revenue within a year? Do they expect your team to build a customizable website in 3 weeks? If they do, you need to know. A client that has unrealistic expectations will need to be brought back to reality, and there’s no better time to do that than at the beginning of your working relationship.
Question 7: What is Your Ultimate Goal for Your Business?
Many companies have purely monetary goals when they reach out for help. Others want to expand their reach into new audiences. Others are interested in rebranding or dipping their toes into new industries.
Whatever your new client’s ultimate goal is, it’s your job to help them reach it. Get them to think in big picture terms. What role does your company serve in helping them accomplish their five or ten-year plans? This will help reveal how focused your client’s plans are, and shed light on how your company can contribute to those plans.
Establishing healthy client goals and expectations at the offset is one of the biggest benefits of a measured onboarding process.
Another benefit is the opportunity for your company to set its own boundaries and expectations of your new client.
As you move forward in the client onboarding process, consider making a written document that outlines some of the information you want to collect from your new client, complete with your own set of important questions.