Something that’s come up in a couple of the programs I’ve been working with recently, which is especially true when your program is big enough to hire professional salespeople that are different from the people who are delivering the program is hearing this complaint from customers…
“This isn’t what I was sold. I thought I was going to get something different, and the salesperson promised me ABC and XYZ.”
Has this ever happened to you?
A lot of times people get in a program and they feel like they’re getting sold something different.
When the entrepreneur handles selling the program, this situation doesn’t arrive as often. But, when you scale, and you have staff taking control of this step, it can be a common occurrence.
It is because of a complete lack of connection.
This happens when one step is omitted from the process, and that’s onboarding. The onboarding process is a critical, critical step in your program that you need to execute efficiently.
A lot of people forget about onboarding, and they assume it means sending logins, or materials or adding customers to the Facebook groups.
Those technical parts are important, but true onboarding actually includes much more.
When I talk about the onboarding process I think of WHOLE.
Those five letters represent things to enable you to onboard efficiently.
Your program is a family, and you’re going to be welcoming your new client, your new customer into your family. So make sure that’s clear. An important part of onboarding is to help people get over the buyer’s remorse.
They’ve made a huge investment in you, so make sure you welcome them, reassure that they’ve made a good decision, that you’re going to take good care of them and introduce them to your family.
There is often a handoff between the salesperson and the person who’s delivering.
Especially in sales conversations where they’re highly strategic or highly personal, your customer can develop a relationship with that salesperson or the entrepreneur themselves.
Often when the entrepreneur is selling someone into a program and their staff is going to take over, a handoff needs to occur. This is where the person who created the relationship says, “Hey, you are going to be taken care of really well by my staff. Here’s who you’re going to be working with,” and that’s I call a handoff.
It’s important to understand the objectives that your customer has about joining the program. This is super critical because when you are working with them throughout the program, if they’re trying to accomplish something that you’re not aware of or that isn’t aligned at all with what you’re trying to do, you’re going to run into trouble and you will not necessarily be aware of it.
We make a lot of assumptions about why people join programs. We say things like;
“They’re joining the program because they’re trying to earn money or trying to launch something” for example.
We have to be careful about this because our customers can have different expectations, and we need to understand what those are. So talking about the objectives upfront helps make sure that you are aligned.
You take charge, take ownership of this and make sure it happens. Make sure that if you don’t fill in the gap, then your customer is going to fill it in with something else. This is your opportunity, up front, to think through carefully what needs to happen in your program.
It’s really critical to get that set up correctly.
The next step in the onboarding process that’s going to be important is to level set. This means that you’re going to review your goal, find out where the customer is in relationship to that goal, and set a plan.
“Hey, we’re trying to achieve this and right now you are at this stage. These are the things that are going have to happen to get you from where you are to where you need to be.”
Not everyone who comes into your program is going to be all at the same stage, so it’s important to cover this step to make yourself and your staff aware exactly the stage of each new customer.
Finally, and this where we started, but this is a really important part.
Setting clear expectations is going to win in the long run during the onboarding process.
This is where you clearly and concisely explain what to expect during the program and also what NOT to expect.
Now I know what you may be thinking… “I don’t want to say that. That’s going to turn them off.”, but if you don’t set those expectations, people are going to make assumptions about your program, what they get, what they don’t get and therefore feel short-changed or disappointed.
I assure you, it is much worse after they’ve been in your program for a while and they have this expectation that they would get something from you, and you never were going to deliver it. That’s going to be a much worse conversation than to have it upfront.
If someone literally just paid you and THEN you say, “We’re not going to be doing one on one calls,” then they are most likely to respond with “Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute….I signed up because I thought they were going to be one on one calls,” that’s an important thing to know right there, and you can fix it and go, “Hey, we don’t do that in this program, so if it’s something you’re expecting, now’s the time to give you a refund and have you walk away happy rather than keep you on the program for six weeks and have you be really unhappy.”
So explain what you’re not going to do and be very specific about it.
I call this your service level agreement.
- How long is it going to take you to respond to stuff?
- When do meetings occur?
- What does the calendar look like?
- What kind of access to you do they receive?
Those are all service level agreements and your commitment to your customer.
On the flip side, explain what you expect from your customer. This is really important.
- What is the customer going to need to be able to do during the engagement?
- What am I expecting?
- If you need to give me feedback, how long does the customer have to respond to that? Are you expecting in two days, two weeks?
- What’s that turnaround time look like?
- How long should it take to get through the various stages of your program?
- How much time are they going to put into this?
- Is this something that is going to be like their number one priority, or is it something that’s on the back burner?
Make very clear what those expectations are upfront. I have seen, and I even encourage this, if you use a contract [by the way, you probably should] this is an opportunity to review the contract with the customer.
Set the expectations, explain them thoroughly, walk them through step by step, give them the contract….and give them the opportunity to walk away.
“This what the contract looks like. We’ve explained it all. We’ve gone through all the expectations. This is your chance to basically go, ‘You know what guys? This isn’t really what I thought it was going to be. I prefer to just get a refund,” and you basically become the customer. You thank them very much and worst case scenario, you’ve lost an hour, right? And that’s it.
It is much better than having a nasty conversation downstream.
When I work with people who have customer service issues in their programs, 70% of those customer service issues could have been fixed with a really strong efficient onboarding conversation.
It’s one of the first things that I implement when I work with people in their programs.
Hopefully, you can use the WHOLE onboarding process and see how it’s going to work in your own program. Even if you’re flying solo in your business right now, you can still execute all these steps.
These are so very important, and it really is going to stop that conversation much further down the line with a customer goes, “Yeah, but I thought I was going to get this,” and you confidently say, “Well, remember we actually talked about that during your onboarding call. Here’s the expectation checklist that we went through, and we actually discussed with you that that isn’t part of the program.”
I truly believe a powerful onboarding experience determines whether your customer’s going to be successful in your program or not.
Pop some comments below and tell me what your onboarding process looks like, and if you have any other questions, I’m happy to answer them here.