How to onboard a large client effectively

Katherine Bentley
Katherine Bentley Member Posts: 8 Contributor
First Anniversary
Hi all,

Just curious to learn more about your strategy towards onboarding large clients? (50-100 users) Any guidance will be massively appreciated!


  • Andrew Marks
    Andrew Marks Member Posts: 54 Expert
    Office Hours Host 2022 5 Likes First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited February 2021
    I could easily answer this question with "it depends", but here are few things, top of mind, from my experience:
    • Have a well thought out and well-documented plan for onboarding that is shared, if not co-developed with the customer
    • Approach onboarding as a change management effort; we're trying to create/change a habit and approaching onboarding as a training exercise is fraught with risk
    • Break the customer cohort into groups and assign customer group leaders who you can over-index on training and change management strategies to drive adoption; find the people who are most excited about your offering and provide them with the training and support they need to help drive change
    • Remember that your ability to onboard and drive adoption is dependent upon your customers' ability and willingness to accept the changes required to adopt your product.
    • Always Always Always set achievable expectations with your customer end-users and don't acquiesce to requests that are unreasonable and unachievable no matter how difficult those conversations can get.
    • Onboarding is a massive point of leverage for you and also a high-risk activity. Don't screw it up by telling your customer what you think they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
  • Srikrishnan Ganesan
    Srikrishnan Ganesan Member Posts: 26 Expert
    edited February 2021

    Andrew makes some important points around training, change management, shared plans, and expectations. 

    Here are a few more tips assuming you are talking about large / enterprise clients:
    * Have a solid agenda for your kick-off meeting that addresses the methodology, goals, rules of engagement and escalations, and expectation setting. "Well begun is half done" is something I've truly come to believe in. Use the kick-off to align and energise the teams, and to lock-in resources you need from the customer side to make the onboarding a success.
    * Set up a cadence of meetings with a steering committee (project executive sponsor, project champion, potentially 1-2 other execs) maybe once in 2-3 weeks to ensure that any blockers are resolved fast, trade-off calls are taken instantly, and there is clarity around goals and success.
    * Have a phased roll-out ensuring enough ROI in phase 1 to showcase success and keep the momentum behind the product adoption going
    * Choose the right capabilities to roll-out and also the right initial group to roll-it out to. You want to get your customer to identify their team members with a growth mentality who welcome change and see the big picture around your product. So the first 5-10 users become your evangelists for the next 90.
    * Ensure you have sign-offs on the goals and what success should mean
    * Don't fall into the trap of trying to address everything the old system handled in the same way - this is part of change management, but be intentional around pushback on things that your new system doesn't need that customers may still ask for moving from a legacy experience.

    Hopes these pointers are helpful!

  • Ed Braunbeck
    Ed Braunbeck Member Posts: 7 Contributor
    edited February 2021
    Items that I'd learned from rolling out a SaaS CRM for Mercedes-Benz, Mazda & Mitsubishi. Each representing ~300 locations with 3-5 users each. 
    • We segmented the users by Corporate, Regional Manager, General Manager & Internet Manager. The later two being in the dealerships. 
    • Each onboarding session had to be customized to their specific needs. Since all the leads generated on manufacturer sites (i.e. were delivered via this platform, we had the dealerships interest. That was their WIIFM. :)
    • The sessions were delivered via webinar and held multiple times throughout the day to cover all time zones. Each session kept track of attendance which was reported back to the Regional Manager and Corporate. The sessions were only 30 minutes in length with the end goal of covering the fundamentals. The client goals were to improve response rates and times which were as low as 60%. 
    • These modules and quick start guides were available via the OEM Dealer portals. 
    • We had limited technical resources to track health but did have login activity, key functionality usage and lead handling stats available as needed.
    • Lastly, this was the initial wave of onboarding and further adoption was an ongoing function of the Customer Success Team. FWIW, dealership sales staff turnover every 7-9 months.
    Please message me direct if you'd like to chat about the details.

  • Srikrishnan Ganesan
    Srikrishnan Ganesan Member Posts: 26 Expert
    edited February 2021

    >> Each onboarding session had to be customised to their specific needs.
    @Ed Braunbeck ?super important point.
    I think using the customer's language in the training decks and co-developing the training material with a couple of managers and users from their team really helped us with some very large rollouts (1000+ users) of a chat product I used to lead. We can also leave that customised training material and recording of the session with them.

    @Katherine Bentley do share what else you try out with this customer :)