As sales reps, we often forget that we can show our customers love through effective onboarding. We invest so much of our focus on getting new customers that we don’t necessarily think about how we can deliver an awesome experience once they’ve committed.
Jamie Masters has been a business coach for over 10 years. She has interviewed close to 500 millionaires and billionaires in business in order to learn what they actually do, as opposed to what is written about them in books. As a result, she has extensive knowledge about how successful people run their businesses.
She says business is never pretty and certainly never perfect. But there are many cool ways, she has learned, to make the nitty-gritty details easier, better, and less stressful.
Many entrepreneurs and salespersons are visionary, big-idea thinkers who sometimes find themselves frustrated when they try to implement their ideas. It is imperative that they find someone who can help accomplish all the minor details; to help with the nitty-gritty.
Jamie used to work as a project manager – she identifies as a Super Geek – but yet even as the owner of her company, she struggles when dealing with details. She just hates it. Her right-hand operator, however, has no problem handling details, for which Jamie is eternally grateful.
Business owners and salespeople, generally speaking, have many similar qualities. Most of the time, for example, the owner is often the salesperson for the company, particularly in the beginning. It can be difficult, however, to concentrate on the visionary quality and relationships of the business without having to worry about dropping things.
Having a backup person who can help with the nitty-gritty details provides that opportunity. The freedom to maneuver without worry makes a huge difference.
Jamie knows from experience that people are usually super-excited about a sale at the beginning. But if important details are dropped as the process moves along, the customer will begin to have reservations and will doubt the legitimacy of the product and the sales rep.
There are ways, however, to automate the sales process which will not only allow you to keep your customers but will impress them. If you are successful in sales, the process will only repeat itself – hopefully, many times over – so why not put a system in place to make it easier for everyone?
When a company is organized, when it has a great system in place, it is exciting, as a sales rep, to execute the vision. It is exciting to share a level of expertise with your clients. It makes the clients feel important and valued as well.
If, for example, you can’t find the onboarding documents to send to your new client, or you don’t know which revision to send, it only creates confusion and unnecessary stress for everyone.
As a business coach, Jamie’s clients begin by walking through each step of their current process to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work. Each piece – every email, every document – is analyzed from the viewpoint of a prospect and a client. Are the forms up-to-date? Are they relevant?
Jamie learned of many instances when a client was turned off by the onboarding experience despite the broad value of the product or service. They simply would decide to look somewhere else.
If money has not exchanged hands yet, however, you are still in the sales process. Onboarding does not begin until a payment has been processed.
She prefers to frontload the payment and to begin the onboarding experience after.
Handshake deals require a lot of work up-front but offer no guarantee. Of course, it does depend on the industry. It is important to know and understand the differences between those requiring high-touch and those that are low-touch, for example.
Jamie’s operator keeps things running smoothly and makes sure Jamie is doing what she needs to do.
Salespeople don’t always think about the benefit of having an assistant but they should.
Jamie believes it is important to decide how much you are willing to invest in the onboarding of your customers.
If you are dealing with high-touch sales, for example, the number of nitty-gritty details can be overwhelming. In some instances, it can involve sending welcome packets and gifts. It just depends on how you want to set it up.
Jamie usually sends a welcome packet to increase the level of touch. Her customers also have the opportunity to follow up with a person via an online forum. It enables her to gain as much information from the client as possible so that she can, in return, ensure that she meets their needs.
The 5 Love Languages is a book with an online quiz that Jamie recommends. It will let you know if the use of love languages is appropriate for your industry. Jamie discovered that, for a business coach, it is completely appropriate.
Each person thinks differently about things. Some clients might love to receive gifts, for example. Jamie sends very tailored gift packages to her clients to make them feel special. The contents are unique, interesting, and useful, and the effort makes her business stand out.
It is also a way to acknowledge the sometimes large amounts of money your client has invested with you. It is a handwritten note but on a larger scale. The time and effort spent personalizing the interactions you have with your client will deepen the relationship with that client.
Something as personal, yet as simple, as an actual phone call also shows that you care and are willing to go above and beyond the usual.
The goal is to reduce the number of touch points without sacrificing value. When the process is automated, you can maintain the number of touches without creating more work for yourself. Then, instead of sending one overwhelming welcome packet, you can divide the content into several gifts.
It is why Jamie prefers payment up front. It allows her to then focus on collecting the data she needs to learn more about her customers so that she can find the best way to proceed with the onboarding experience.
She sends one email or questionnaire at a time so that no amount of required paperwork takes up too much of her client’s time. It is all automated. The forms or emails are sent only as the information is needed. In this way, the client is never overwhelmed with nitty-gritty details.
Jamie’s newest program, Ownerbox.com, is for busy entrepreneurs who are all working 60 hours a week. The last thing they want to have to do is more paperwork, which creates more work with no results for the effort or the money.
Jamie doesn’t allow them into the site or the program at the beginning. Instead, they receive one video which she personally views with them. She does not want to overwhelm someone who is already super busy and stressed.
She strives to make sure their experience is smooth and simplistic. It helps to imagine herself as the customer and to then tailor the onboarding experience the way she would want to experience it.
Sometimes, as sales reps or business owners, we are too close to our own work. We continue to do things a certain way because ‘it has always been done that way.’ It is easy to see the gaps in another person’s process and realize how small tweaks along the way can make a huge difference.
Think about what you can do to make the process easier. What can you do to create an experience that will excite your client?
It has been said that ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.’ As entrepreneurs, it is sometimes all we do!
We gain another client but then scramble to find the right documents. The whole goal is to gain more clients and make more sales, but we can’t do that when we are distracted by the nitty-gritty.
Jamie strongly believes that it does not take a lot of time to rethink and clarify your onboarding experience. Something as simple as knowing the client’s birthday and setting up an automated system to send out a card will return dividends.
Nine times out of 10, people don’t like the software program they have. All software has problems but knowing your software well and making it work for you and your team is vital. Make a commitment to the software program you’ve chosen, learn it, and love it. It will save you time in the long run.
Jamie insists that we make time now in our calendars to take action on everything discussed here today. While it is not urgent to the onboarding process, it is important because it will make all the difference in the long run.
Spend an hour and make the necessary tweaks.
Jamie has kindly put together an entire landing page of checklists and other information especially for TSE listeners. Find it at www.eventualmilllionare.com/TSE. You can also learn more about Jamie and her team at www.ownerbox.com.
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When your company on-board a new employee, you invest time, effort, and resources into the process. So if you’re going to spend the money, doesn’t it make sense to put energy into making sure the employee is successful? The key is to help new employees feel like they already belong.
On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work, shares how he on-boards his new employees and how he engages his staff in the hiring process.
He emphasizes the need to show new team members where the finish line is before expecting them to sprint toward it.
Before employees set foot in Piyush’s office, they receive a box in the mail that includes initial paperwork plus t-shirts and other swag related to the company. The company also sends a book about the team and how the company operates.
The most important item in the box is an empty picture frame with a note encouraging the employee to bring a picture of a loved one for the new desk.
Psychologically, he said, the first day presents the highest stress for a new hire.
There’s the potential for a lot of doubt, and lots of room to wonder whether he made the right decision.
If the new desk has a picture of a loved one on it, there’s a better chance he’ll be convinced he made the right decision.
Piyush, the CEO of his company, dedicates himself to spending a half day with new employees on their first day in the building.
He gives new employees a tour, explains the inner workings of the company, and then gives them a spreadsheet with every employee’s name on it. Their assignment is to go from desk to desk asking a series of three questions.
By the end of the exercise, the new employee has heard every co-worker explain all the best parts of the company, as well as a sort of history of the company in the form of memories.
The net result is an employee who is excited to be part of the story.
Piyush treats every new hire like a 30-day date for both employer and employee. The two come together at the end of the 30 days to decide whether the pairing is a good fit.
He identifies employees he calls navigators whose job it is to “protect the culture.” Piyush tasks them with taking the new employee to lunch, taking him to happy hour, and walking him through a segment of training.
At the end of 30 days, the group decides whether the new hire is a good fit for the team.
Even if the new hire isn’t immediately a good fit, he’ll evaluate whether the new hire can be rehabilitated.
It creates the sense that the whole team is in this together, and it results in a culture where people love their work.
The result is a community with low turnover and great results.
Some employers say they don’t have time to invest in new employees this way.
To them, Piyush says that he realized he was investing much more time dealing with unfulfilled expectations. He would have saved time by making the initial investment early on.
Instead of constantly rebuilding the process, he could carry out regular maintenance along the way with much better results.
He avoids making employees feel like they are constantly being criticized. Piyush constantly affirms employees: they hear the things they are doing well as well as things they could improve.
He said that people work for three reasons beyond money: belonging, affirmation, and meaning. Once they are in the tribe, you have to work to constantly maintain those.
We’ve been recommending the book the book, Stop Selling & Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen from our sponsors at Wiley for quite some time because we believe in the message. Based upon interviews with buyers, it offers specific information for sellers to help them become trusted advisors.
As part of the series this week, we have a SlideShare available for you to download, or you can link to it here. As always, we also have a free excerpt of the book so you can try it out for yourself. We believe you’ll like it so much you’ll want to grab your own copy.
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If you think you might benefit from more stories like these, check out The Sales Evangelist Hustler’s League, an online group coaching program that brings sellers of all levels and all industries together to share insights. We’re beginning a new semester this fall, and we’d love for you to join us.