Agency Client Onboarding: 4 Steps To Building Great Relationships

Ashley Sava

It goes as quickly as it comes, but sometimes taking an action is inevitable: all of a sudden, you feel a strong impulse. You just want to buy something! It may be something you’ve been checking out for a while now, or maybe it’s just pretty. It doesn’t matter. You just do.

But as time goes by, the odds can be both in your favor or against you.

And when you try to get a hold of what value that new purchase can actually bring you, or even how that thing actually works, for more than 15 minutes straight and it leads you nowhere… The damage is done. You can’t figure it out. And, eventually, you just give up.

That’s the same with almost any other kind of purchase: you will pay for something because you believe that one thing has something to add to youYou have either a need or a specific pain and if that choice does not deliver the solution – the cure! – you’ve been searching for, then you’ll never buy it again.

Great relationships = Referrals = Best leads ever

And that is exactly what can happen to your clients too if you’re not careful – if you’re not centered on building great relationships with them. You may have made an awesome job in:

  1. Identifying leads with a great fit to your value proposition;
  2. Attracting them to your business and guiding them through your Sales Pipeline by educating them on the problem you can solve and how important it is to get it dealt with (sense of urgency) so they can get to their best selves;
  3. Proving the superior benefit to how your specific approach is the best way to handle the problem and achieve success.

But that won’t guarantee your future – as a matter of fact, according to the Agency Pricing & Financials Report from Hubspot, 90% of the best new leads come from referrals and not from a well-executed sales pipeline. And that’s not only a perception on the Agency side: according to Nielsen, trust and action go side-by-side with 83% of the global respondents affirming they take friends and family’s opinion into consideration when taking action a fair amount of the time.

That means you will get nowhere if you’re not able to clearly communicate the value you bring to the table and how you’re going to make that pain/issue go away from the kick-off call. Bringing new clients in is a great place to begin, but that’s just it – a start.

From the first moment they become your clients, your onboarding phase will be crucial to set the tone of your whole relationship and set up a long term relationship.

Making sure your first 30 days with them becomes a one-, two- and even three-year- anniversary should be a priority. According to Bain & Company, word of mouth is your best ally in assuring future growth, and recurring clients are your best source for this – they can even get to spend up to 67% more with you as time goes by  (aside from the referrals, isn’t this an awesome bonus?).

4 steps to make your marketing agency client onboarding experience the best one possible

We’ve established that signing the contract is only the first part of a fruitful relationship between your agency and your client. If you want them to become not only a success story but a true evangelist,, these are our tips to help you create a successful client onboarding process and an awesome client experience..

1. Pre-meeting

You need to make sure you have all the basic information registered about this client, so later on – who knows? – you might even be able to track down all the data and get to your ideal client persona. That list could look like this:

  1. The name of the company that is hiring you;
  2. The name of the main point of contact you have with that company– make sure you choose this person wisely: having a strong relationship with that person may even guarantee you future referrals within that same company, in the case that it’s a large one and only one department or two is hiring your agency – this is critical!;
  3. The contact info of that person– it can be their email, or their business phone even;
  4. The date in which your partnership with them is starting– a great tip right here would be to even create an internal campaignto send a “thank you” note to your oldest clientsto show that you care about them and are thankful for how much they’ve helped you along the way;
  5. A quick briefing detailing why they choose you and that is important to them– the sales team usually has many details to share about the client. The account manager responsible for the client that gave the referral, even if indirectly: should keep an open channel and be willing to build new creative ways to use the information you have in your favor.

Once all that is set, it’s important that you know:

  1. What products or services the client acquired?A logo design, a rebranding project, content creation? If you’re in a digital marketing agency, which marketing services were agreed to? It’s a great moment to reaffirm everything that was in the contract! In case there’s any misconception on the client’s side, that’s the best time to reevaluate the scope.
  2. Who’s going to be responsible for the project?And who’s the account manager that is responsible for this client? Having a conversation with them might be great to way to get good insights on what kind of personality the client has.
  3. Build an agenda for the meeting– even if the hand-off of this new opportunity was great, make sure everyone is aligned: Do you feel you have all the necessary information to create an amazing experience with this client? If not, what are the key questions you need to present during the kick-off meeting to ensure you have everything in place?

2. Kick-off meeting

Ok, this is it – this is the day! The first of many, if everything goes smoothly. Now that you are here, it’s crucial to make sure the client has everything needed to embark on this new project with you.

  • Is there any training that needs to be done? Are there any special instructions to give regarding how to access the portal you use to update them on the project or is everything done via email? Do you have an official channel to communicate with them?

Having to run after you to get details on how everything is going can be both stressful and exhausting to the client. Don’t make them do this. Don’t be that company. And for the sake of being cool, try to also present a little bit about yourself: your agency’s story, what your culture looks like and how your SLAs work, aligning both future expectations and defining key goals together as well as expected results.

3. Post-meeting

Now it’s time to get everyone that was a part of that kick-off meeting to just talk, talk and talk.

  • Do you all feel the same about the client?
  • Was one or more of you able to catch a detail or a phrase, that maybe could tell you more about how the client thinks and help you can create value that will be meaningful to them, aside from the pre-established goals?
  • Are you all on the same page as to what needs to be done and how to best deliver this?

Meeting notes will also be important in this phase, so make sure you’ll read everyone’s insight into this and take the best out of one of the most valuable things you have: having multiple people on board can help open perceptions and bring greater things to the table.

Now that you have had the opportunity to talk to the client and hear directly from them about what makes the most sense to them at the  moment, the main pain points they are facing and what an ideal solution would look like, then side-by-side with that first draft of the next steps that you had in mind before, reevaluate everything  together.

  • Do they still make sense? If yes, that’s cool! If not, why not? Was anything wrong or misleading in the handoff? Is there any feedback to give? Does the whole team need to reevaluate how they’re facing this problem
  • Is there anything you can do to improve them, the next steps?
  • Are those [the previously planned next steps] the best you can deliver, now that have met them?

4. Follow-up

You should email them with a summary of all of the topics discussed during the meeting and ask for confirmation: is everything according to what they perceived as indicated during the meeting? Are the mentioned goals accurate? Is there anything that was left behind or was not said, but that they might feel it’s important now?

Open a channel with them so they can be as open and as transparent as they can with you! Most importantly: this will help you ensure that the project’s final delivery will actually live up to the expectations that were set during the kick-off call.

And, just to make things different, try calling them once in a while – not to chat, obviously! But whenever you can and whenever it makes sense, take the extra step. Go the extra mile. Make them feel personally valued and cared for.

Let’s build great relationships together

I feel confident that you’ve got the team and the resources to deliver breathtaking things and inspire your clients to 1. Dream bigger and 2. Take you with them throughout this journey. I know it’s a lot to take in, but we’re also here for you.

Pipefy’s Marketing Agency Client Onboarding Template has everything you learned here structured and ready to use. Make the most of your opportunities by ensuring the path to greatness is evident to all.  

Start using Pipefy now!

Written by
Ashley Sava
is Pipefy's Editor and Copywriter. With a background in journalism and content marketing, she uses her wit, writing skills and incurable cheerfulness to leave her readers inspired, hooked and informed. Sava resides in Austin, Texas.

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