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Editor's note: This post originally appeared on HubSpot's Agency Post. For more content like this, subscribe to Agency.

The contract is signed. You’ve had a new client celebration within your company. Everyone is ready to get to work.

It’s the beginning of a new -- and profitable -- relationship. But you’ve done this before, and you know that this feeling of excitement and accomplishment can quickly mutate into resentment and stress. The client is unreachable for weeks, or he expects something that wasn’t included in the contract. The relationship becomes confusing and frustrating before you’ve even sent out the first invoice.

The first 90 days will set the tone for your relationship, and if you hope to retain this client, then you need to prepare and develop an onboarding process that proves they made the right choice

One of the most important steps in client onboarding is the kickoff meeting. This meeting or call is a conversation with the major stakeholders in the hopes of getting everyone on the same page. It should help you create a plan, define a list of priorities, and reaffirm the goals uncovered and agreed to during the sales process.

From this call, you will begin to develop a deeper understand of the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities present. You will use the key findings to develop a strategic plan that includes:

  • Concrete business goals
  • A competitive analysis
  • A review of the client’s previous efforts
  • Buyer personas
  • Established benchmarks
  • KPIs you will measure on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis

This document will be the basis of your work for at least the next three months.

6 Elements to Cover in a Customer Kickoff Meeting

1) Introductions

Give everyone on the call a chance to introduce themselves and explain what his or her role is. The project team includes both your agency’s staff and the client’s team, so you better get to know one another. This should also give you insight into each person’s expertise, which will come in handy when creating content. The ultimate goal is to build rapport with the group and establish a relationship of collaboration.

2) Goals

While you may have heard about the client’s goals during the sales process, you will now want to actually set goals that are SMART, meaning they need to be:

  • Specific: Determine the type of goal and get specific. Increasing traffic is not a goal — increasing organic traffic is.
  • Measurable: Establish how you will track the goals. The client might want to increase brand affinity, but you need to develop a process for measuring and reporting the success -- or failure -- of a specific goal.
  • Attainable: Find out the client’s previous efforts. Try to benchmark what has been done before so that you can showcase growth.
  • Realistic: Set expectations. The client may want to see 5,000 leads per month generated, but if his retainer only covers two blog posts per month and he has never had a lead come through his website, then this goal might not be in the realm of possibility.
  • Timebound: Establish a deadline for achieving these goals. Discuss the amount of time it will take to create and deploy marketing activities and how long it will take to see the benefits of those activities.

3) Plans

Based on the goals you’ve established, you can then begin to work out what the tactics for accomplishing those goals will include.

For example, a HubSpot client kickoff meeting could include these sample goals:

  • Attract X unique visitors per month
  • Increase visitor-to-lead conversion rate by X
  • Convert X visitors into leads
  • Increase lead-to-customer conversion rate by X
  • Obtain X customers from inbound marketing

And these plans for reaching the goals:

  • Increasing the publishing frequency of the blog
  • Developing top of the funnel (TOFU) ebooks and whitepapers
  • A/B testing calls-to-action for ebooks
  • Using email to nurture leads effectively
  • Developing a lead scoring system to identify high opportunity leads

You shouldn’t develop a concrete and exhaustive plan during the call, but you can start to outline some tactics that will help the client reach his highest priority goal as soon as possible.

4) Challenges

The challenges section of the call will simply be a starting point of a task list. You will refine and hone this list during your post-meeting reporting. Using this information, develop a chart that outlines the findings and insights from your conversation with the client. Use this when developing your strategy.

5) Timelines

Based on the challenges and goals, you will want to identify high priority items that your team can begin to implement immediately.

You will also want to discuss if the client has any company-wide goals it needs to meet. If he has quarterly reporting, then you will want to adjust the pace of your projects to reflect this. You need a clear understanding of the results the client wants to see and when he wants to see them.

6) Roles & Responsibilities

This is a partnership, which means that there are certain things your company needs to deliver on and there are also some responsibilities on the customer end.

Get to know the internal structure and processes the client has in place and determine where your company’s product fits in. And don’t be afraid to set expectations for the client. You need to show results, which means you will need information, support, and approval from his team.

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Originally published Oct 18, 2015 8:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017

Topics:

Sales Strategy