onboarding new client

How to Set the Stage for Success with a New Client

Congratulations you have landed a new client! Whether it is your first client, or you are a seasoned professional, how you onboard a client sets the stage for your engagement. You want to use the onboarding process to set expectations, establish rapport, and mutually agree on how you will work together and measure success. In this post we cover a few key items to help you set the stage with your success for your new client.

Housekeeping

Before you begin work you will need to take care of a few administrative details.

Signed contract. You’re excited and want to get started but be sure to get a signed contract. It is much easier to get this done before you start work and protects you and the client.

Billing Terms. While your contract outlines your billing terms, you still need to discuss how your new client processes invoices. A few questions to consider:

  • Who will be your billing contact?
  • Is there a set payment schedule?
  • Is there specific information that needs to be on the invoice, such as a project number?
  • Can you bill electronically?
  • Will they pay you by check, bank transfer or credit card?
  • Check in with the billing contact to introduce yourself and confirm how you should invoice.

First invoice. If you require an upfront deposit, you need to send your first invoice immediately. Ideally, you can collect payment before you begin work, but there may be a bit of overlap.

Kick off

Launch! Set up a kick-off meeting to officially launch the engagement. This meeting should include your primary contact and other key stakeholders. Use the first meeting to set expectations and outline the information you need to work.

Set expectations. Discuss what the client should expect in the first 30 days. It is critical to set expectations early and often. If the first 30 days will be discovery and planning, clearly state that so that your client is not expecting media interviews or bylined articles out of the gate.

Roles and responsibilities. It is important to identify who will be responsible on the client side for the tasks that you need to accomplish.

News and events. Ask about any upcoming news, or announcements that may have been in the works before you came on board. This includes staffing changes, product launches, expansions, partnerships and more. You will also want to determine if there are any upcoming events such as trade shows, speaking engagements, or media interviews.

Meeting schedule. How often will you meet with the client? Set up a schedule early on that everyone can put on their calendar. If you are going to meet bi-monthly or monthly, set a day and time.

Metrics and reporting. Before you can set up metrics, you will need to understand how your client will measure success. Identify their desired outcomes so that you can measure what is important to them. Establish how often you will report on progress towards goals.

Provide a checklist of needs. It is helpful to give the client a checklist of things you need such as access to Google Analytics, website login, social media accounts, marketing collateral, pitch deck, presentations, current year plan, etc.

How you onboard a client can pave the way for good rapport and successful working relationship. Don’t rush through the process, be meticulous and conscientious so that you and the client have the information and tools you need to achieve your desired results.

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