How Can Onboarding Help You Build Thriving Relationships with Clients and Talent

Experience has taught me that a strong onboarding process can set you off to a great collaboration. It makes the difference between a fruitful long-term relationship with clients and talent and a chaotic workflow.

There are specific elements that make the onboarding process effective. Learn my methods to make it work in your favor. I will share them with you in this article. 

If you’re anything like me you want predictability in your business. You perform best when you are aware of the next steps. You operate at maximum efficiency when you rely on a well documented process.

It may come as a surprise, but the onboarding process is among the top 20% of processes with the greatest positive impact on scaling. Unfortunately, not enough leaders pay attention to this process.

Why should you prioritize the onboarding process?

  • A positive onboarding experience for your client, employee, or partner will set the stage for a successful collaboration. It will increase satisfaction and retention. This will lead to reduced costs associated with finding new clients or talent.
  • In my work with many business leaders I have seen first hand how the onboarding process is rarely prioritized. In a way, they do not see value in what happens after the deal is closed. These leaders fail to see the implications of the onboarding process for the health of the business. 
  • It is much easier to retain and upsell an existing client than sell into a new account. At the same time, it is much easier to retain talent than recruiting new people. Of course, retention is also much cheaper or free. In conclusion, a good onboarding experience will lead to retention which in turn will strengthen the business.

The onboarding process is one of the top 3 I recommend to any business.

I’ll explain why this is one of my top picks and what elements must be present so that the onboarding process is effective. An impactful onboarding process is one that will serve as a solid foundation of your new relationship. Be it either with a new client or employee, your relationship is 50% built in the first few weeks.

Here is a short list of the essential characteristics of the onboarding process I will expand on:

  • Clear and transparent
  • Well documented
  • Sets expectations on both sides
  • Answers questions before they are asked
  • Ensures sustainable scaling

Onboarding steps are clear and transparent

Think about it! People who go through the onboarding process are unfamiliar with your company, whether they are new clients or employees. As a result, clarity and transparency are critical.

This means that all the steps and actions in the process must be simple enough for anyone to follow.

Another thing to consider is making the necessary resources accessible. This will help avoid confusion for those who follow it.

Furthermore, all parties involved in the onboarding process must be able to monitor progress . What I mean is that at any time, anyone can see actions completed to date and what is left to be done. This holds true for all processes. However, I emphasize it in this case because you want to ensure that your new partners are kept up to date.

The onboarding process is well documented

I cannot stress this enough: the process is only as good as its documentation!

In other words, a process does not exist unless it is well documented. For example, you cannot claim to have created a process if it only exists in your memory. This means others cannot access it or use it.

A well-documented process outlines:

  • the step-by-step actions
  • the owners for each action
  • the timelines and due dates

All these must be crystal clear and leave no room for interpretation.

Here’s where you can document the onboarding process:

  • company knowledge base
  • project management tool
  • SOPs directory

How you choose to document it is strictly related to how your company is organized. The most important thing is that you take action to do it and share its location with your team.

Expectations are set at onboarding

There is no better time than onboarding to educate your new partner on what to expect from your relationship.

I like to imagine it as welcoming a visitor into your home and showing them around. If you’re like me, you want to be able to share a comfortable space and a lot of predictability.

This is less about trying to appear perfect and more about establishing a good communication channel. This way any issues further down the line will be addressed quickly and effectively.

I’ll be honest and admit that I am quick to form opinions. This is why I see the onboarding process as a way to keep my concerns in check. This is when I build confidence to trust new business partners.

It is much easier to gain someone’s trust at first. If problems arise in the future, you can always rely on a good working relationship to solve them.

Onboarding makes questions unnecessary

In my experience, what makes the onboarding process great is anticipating the questions from your new client or employee. Proactively answering them will demonstrate your deep understanding of their problems.

I know! You may think this is impossible and that you have no way of knowing what they will want to know. Here is how you can do it:

  • The process will not be perfect from the 1st iteration
  • With each run through the process, collect all questions that come up
  • Answer these questions with a great amount of detail
  • Add the questions and answers to the process
  • The next iteration will already be better and more complete

If you look at this as an ongoing process, you will have strong, comprehensive documentation for your new partners. It will happen in no time and with little effort. All you have to do is listen to what new clients and employees share with you.

Foundation for sustainable scalability

Growth and scaling are impossible without the proper systems in place. The bare minimum for your business is to have replicability for what is repetitive and time-consuming.

In my experience, onboarding is one of the processes that, if not optimized, consumes a significant amount of time and resources.

Ensuring your clients and employees have access to necessary resources can take time. Answering their questions will often eat away into other business priorities.

On the other hand, a scalable onboarding process enables your company’s rapid growth.

One of the issues I hear from clients is they lack resources for onboarding. Most of the time, they refer to human resources. Here’s a tip: create a process that relies on readily accessible resources, and you’ll remove this blocker. Focus on automating most if not the entire onboarding process. Rely more on tools and less on human resources when it comes to repeat tasks.

Final thoughts on a great onboarding process

You cannot grow your business if the foundation is shaky. So, I recommend that you take a step back and focus on your onboarding process first.

I can assure you that the advantages are numerous. From a positive relationship with new partners to a system that enables scaling to lower costs.

Make it a priority to iteratively improve the onboarding process. It does not have to be a lot of upfront work. Take small steps consistently. In the long run the process will become more and more efficient and reliable. 

If you are particularly interested in onboarding teams, here is an article I wrote on this topic. I go into details regarding what makes it a successful employee onboarding.

Let’s build together your onboarding process

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