9 Client Onboarding Best Practices

You’ve done everything right. You’ve got a great growth strategy and your sales funnel has the perfect place for visitors to step on and become prospects. Many businesses reach this step and then wind up becoming a failure. Why is this? It is because they have failed to follow the best practices for client onboarding. The classic symptom of this failure is a low conversion rate despite having lots of prospects.

What do the best in the business do when it comes to the client onboarding process? What have the giants, like Facebook and Google, figured out as a best practice that can be incorporated into your own website? Here are the best practices for client onboarding that are proven to work and can be incorporated as soon as today.

1. Always make the process as easy as possible.

Many sales funnels focus on the user experience up until the time someone becomes a prospect. Once the journey needs to go from prospect to conversion, however, the user experience fades. If an improved user experience will improve the number of prospects, then wouldn’t an improved user experience also improve the number of conversions?Of course it would. Make the entire conversion process as simple as possible Put everything that a prospect needs to see above the fold. Each component should be straightforward and understandable. Confused prospects rarely become conversions, so if your conversion rates are low, you’ve likely got too many things going on during the conversion process. Strip the process down, put in the bare bones, and you’ll have already improved the process.

2. Your call to action needs to be something to which prospects can relate.

Think of your call to action as an improved version of an upsell. Think about the last time an upsell worked on you. What components did it have? If you can’t remember, then here are the components of a good upsell.

  • It needs to be a product you wanted or needed in the first place, but didn’t intend to purchase.
  • It needs to have a price point that makes you think that you’re getting a good deal.
  • It needs to have a level of scarcity inferred or directly stated to urge action.

As a final step, a good upsell also delivers a high quality final product. If the perceived value doesn’t match up to the real value of a product, then an upsell will only work once. These are all the components of what your call to action needs to be as well. It isn’t a tagline. It is a proposal: is this product good enough to make you act on it right now?

3. Extensive onboarding procedures will drive prospects away quickly.

Take a time test through your client onboarding process right now. How long does it take you to transition from a prospect to a conversion? If your sign-up time is more than 30 seconds, then there’s a good chance that your client onboarding process could be dramatically improved. People don’t have a lot of time today and are constantly feeling rushed. This causes attention spans to be reduced. If someone can’t complete a task in 30 seconds or less, the average person today isn’t going to complete it.

What’s the fastest way to improve this process? Include social networking login compatibility. One click is all it takes for someone who is logged into Facebook to convert for your site if you have this compatibility installed. This makes the onboarding process nice and simple, almost effortless, and prospects get the instant gratification that they want. There’s also a bit of added security that comes with this compatibility, which only enhances the perceived value that you’re able to provide.

4. Give people an honest welcome and thank them for their interest.

Have you ever noticed the survey takers that can be found along the walkways of the average shopping mall? People avoid these survey takers like they have the bubonic plague. It isn’t because they don’t understand that they’re trying to get a job done or don’t like sharing an opinion. The survey takers are avoided for two reasons: there’s no value to the process and there’s not an honest welcome.

“Hi. Would you like to take a survey today?” If someone has two kids with them, wants to stop at the local coffee place, and then get their shopping done as soon as possible because soccer practice is in 90 minutes, that’s a terrible opening. 99.9% of people will say no. We all know this. Yet the client onboarding process for most websites today is structured the same way. People want you to recognize that they exist. That they’re a person.

Now imagine if the survey taker said, “Hi there. You look busy. I’ve got a coupon for 20% off a cup of coffee right now if you can give me 3 minutes to fill out a fast survey. What do you say?” Most people would pause and think about it, even if it is a fraction of a second. That means your client onboarding has instantly improved.

5. Show people how they can take advantage of the value you provide.

There are lots of welcome emails being sent out every day, but that’s all they are. It basically says “Congratulations! You’ve signed up for an awesome service. Have a nice day!” People wouldn’t become a prospect just because they thought you were ordinary. They already think of you as being extraordinary in some way. They don’t need an email to confirm this.
What they need is more knowledge. They need to know what it will take to get the most out of what you’ve offered them at this very second. Investing into some how-to videos or step-by-step instructions that can be sent out when someone becomes a prospect for the first time will automatically encourage them to come onboard.

6. Retention needs to be your #1 goal.

Once someone becomes a prospect or decides to convert and come onboard, the client onboarding process stops, doesn’t it? But it shouldn’t. It should still keep going because the journey of a prospect through your sales funnel should never be completed. It should be a continuous loop where someone at the bottom of the funnel who has converted comes back to the top of the funnel again so they can become another conversion.

Retention isn’t always an easy cookie to bake. Many will use rewards programs for multiple conversions and that’s good, but you need to have something great to have a customer for life. What will it take to get someone to stick around? Figure that out within the value of your product, sow some seeds to show how effective your ongoing value you will be, and then water those seeds frequently to get results.

7. Allow your prospects to spread the word about your general level of awesomeness.

Why do you think Facebook has more than 1 billion user accounts right now? It isn’t because there are a bunch of fake account spammers out there, although there’s certainly enough of those. It’s because when someone signs up for a Facebook account, they’re asked if they know anyone else who would like to have a Facebook account as well. There’s an invitation offered.

You can offer that kind of invitation as well. A prospect that is excited about what you’ve got is the best marketing tool for client onboarding that you could ever have. You don’t even need to ask people for contact information to make this happen. As long as you allow prospects to share a great deal on their social networks, you’ll be spreading invitations to climb onboard with a great deal.

8. Always test the process and then test it some more.

After you’ve tested out your client onboarding process to make sure it can get done in less than 30 seconds, make sure that you get some other opinions about it as well. Before you make everything live, get some trusted associates, friends, and family members to all try the process for you and take their feedback seriously. Things that are easy and simple for you might not be easy and simple for the average person.

9. The prospect always comes first.

If you aren’t focusing on innovation and have created a sales funnel that is more about meeting your own needs than your prospect’s needs, then you’ll never have maximized results. The best practice for client onboarding is to always put your prospects first.

Don’t be afraid of failure. There is always something that can be fixed or improved with the client onboarding process. Twitter was virtually impossible to get started and it took several minutes when the site first went live. Google used to have multiple verification links that had to be followed. Find what works well, streamline it, and then eliminate the extraneous stuff that is bogging you down and you’ll have the client onboarding best practices nailed.

Onboarding Investment