How to train your clientby
If you dread onboarding a new client, try this four-step programme for training them. It could take the pain out of it for both of you.
We actually don’t have an onboarding process for new clients. Instead, we have a Client Training Programme, and framing the process in this way has created a much smoother process in getting started with new clients, as well as creating a mindset shift for my team. So how can you create a seamless onboarding process? Here’s what we do.
1. Set expectations before the sales call
In any marketing we do, whether it’s a Facebook post, a contact from a YouTube video or an email enquiry, the next step we always ask people to take is to book in with us via Calendly. By doing this, I’m immediately setting the expectation that we have a virtual and digital set-up and that we don’t always rely on people to do the administrative work.
The booking form includes questions about the prospect’s business and where they need our support and help. By asking questions at this point, rather than leaving them to ask the generic “how much will it cost to…” questions, we take control. This is crucial for setting the tone of how we will work together, but also for ensuring we make progress in the next stages of onboarding.
2. Start the training in the sales call
My mum always tells me there’s a good reason I have two ears and one mouth, so on the discovery call, I ask plenty of questions but then I let the client do the talking. They tell me about their business, their challenges and the support they need. This gives me an opportunity to sell our services, but also to talk about how our systems and processes will support them.
I know that our way of working is different to that of many of the accountants our clients choose to move away from. So by telling our prospects that we’re different to their previous accountants, we create the opportunity to approach everything about our way of working differently. This starts with the onboarding process and I explain exactly how we will start working together.
During the sales call, I set the standard for how we are going to work together, it’s the start of the client’s training.
3. The first 24 hours
Everyone in my team knows their targets. Our goal for every new client is that they fall into our regular cycle of bookkeeping and reporting within one month. That’s the target: to be up to date and able to deliver the first set of management accountants within one month. It’s a full team effort. We do live proposals and on the sales call, the prospect has already been advised on how to provide essential paperwork. Once the client has signed their proposal, every member of the team is told. My team knows who the client is, what their business does, what the key people are like and what they’re likely to need support with. The client is allocated a client manager, and we agree which members of the team will need to join the client’s WhatsApp group. Our VA then sets the client up on our portal and requests the documentation we need.
We have a target to turn this around within 24 hours, setting the expectations for our new client that we are responsive but they need to uphold their side of the relationship.
4. Regular training meetings
We then move into a series of weekly meetings. The client takes responsibility for booking this meeting themselves, and uses the meetings to work through a checklist that starts with setting up software and training on using different tools, apps and getting paperwork up to date. We meet every single week until the client is fully onboarded. It’s intense for the client, but we quickly build strong relationships and using new tools frequently over that period solidifies the training for the client much more than if we only caught up once a month. Our aim is to prepare the first set of management accounts within the first month, and on the whole, we are able to do this.
Building a bond
Our onboarding process might not be for everybody, but it builds a bond with our clients. Without question, they know that we’re there for them and part of their team quickly. I believe your onboarding process can be one of your unique selling points, so embrace the opportunity to do things your way and be proud of it.
Join the Bookkeeping Show, in association with FreeAgent, on 15 September where our panel will discuss how to successfully onboard new clients.
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Jo Wood is the owner of Jo Wood Virtual FD Ltd and as the co-founder of the 6 Figure Bookkeeper, she has experience of building and running a number of bookkeeping practices. Jo's skill and experience has enabled her to build a six figure practice from scratch which supports her...