How to make your B2B SaaS onboarding process better

A corporate client needed to stand up over a half dozen B2B SaaS tools. Planning and executing all of these, simultaneously, was a ton of work.

After surviving multiple, parallel SaaS onboarding processes, I have some insights and suggestions to share.

Recognize when to stop selling and start guiding. Once the contract is signed and onboarding has begun, resist the temptation to keep selling. You’ve won. If you continue to press the sales pitch during onboarding, you’re going to annoy your customer team. Switch to a softer-touch approach and guide your strategic buyer, project leader, and team through the process of planning and implementing.

Your customer team fully expects you to help them anticipate common sticking points in the technical and operational standup, because you have done this far more times than they have. They’d also like to hear how your other customers have approached everything from governance to user access rights to content planning and generation to approval processes, at least at a high level, so they can get a fast start. Think less about the what and more about the why and the logic — your customer team can then figure out how to apply that to their corporate context.

Make it easy for your VP-level buyer to communicate and assign tasks the customer’s IT team needs to complete. Your buyer probably does not need to know the ins & outs of whitelisting and DKIM settings. A to-do list with critical dates and links to explain details or alternatives is perfect.

Your knowledge base is generally pretty good for the team who will be using your software day-to-day. The self-service video format is great for explaining, visually, how the content team can interact with features and functionality within the tool. I noted, though, that the video format does not serve the needs of the VP-level buyer who is time-starved and needs a straightforward overview of the capabilities her team will be using.

Additionally, your knowledge base would be greatly improved with context. Most modern SaaS tools are really not that hard to use, but your instructions may not make sense or stick without framing and examples. Focus your onboarding content less on the features and more on the goals your customer is trying to accomplish. Use examples illustrate the why and how.

Modularize your onboarding program. Remember that when a company is buying a new SaaS solution, that purchase was possibly triggered by what I call “business life events” like merger integrations, expansion into new markets, divestitures, or rebranding initiatives. These events tend to be disruptive. Be prepared to adapt the sequence of the modules based on what your customer finds most pressing.

Create an executive summary for each module. Your VP-level buyer does not have the time to sit through multiple long sessions. Help her get value out of your onboarding sessions in less time. Senior people should be able to learn what they need from each module’s executive summary and then drop off the call to attend other meetings. You can then deliver the details to the rest of the team.

Back to that idea of “business life events” — having personally inventoried over 1,300 corporate videos and hundreds of pieces of content across multiple platforms and channels, I can assure you that this is tedious. And that’s just for a single corporate client! You know that in any given year, a portion of your SaaS customers will go through a merger, acquisition, divestiture or rebranding. It should be easy to export a list of all the content housed on your SaaS tool and major attributes so that your customer’s time can be spent on figuring out what to keep, what to discard, and what to revamp. This should not be a pricey customization or professional services request. Can you build tools to make it easier to create a content inventory with unique identifiers, tags, and other key attributes for each piece of content? Making this step easier is a great way to build and sustain a healthy customer relationship and lock-in that monthly recurring revenue over the long haul precisely because so few SaaS companies do it.

If you’re a CMO, CRO or Customer Success pro at a SaaS company, I’d love to help you refine your customer onboarding process. Find me at Adeptation.

Market and customer strategist. Results-oriented coach. Curiosity + empathy to discover consumer insights and accelerate your growth. Find me at Adeptation.

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