5 Must-Haves for Successful Onboarding


A solid onboarding program is essential for adoption. I’ve helped design many onboarding programs, and there are 5 ingredients that all successful programs include:

  • A solid handoff from the sales team. It’s the time to find out what the customer hopes to achieve and what promises were made. For larger deals, the handoff is best conducted as a meeting but much can be achieved with a well-designed checklist, whether or not it’s followed by a meeting.
  • An appropriate use case. The customer may have many hopes from their purchase so it’s important to select a meaningful yet reasonably-sized use case. The onboarding use case may be already known from the sales cycle but must be confirmed as it may have changed, or be too ambitious.
  • A designated owner. The account executive owns the customer relationship during the sales, but likely will move on to other tasks afterwards–and is rarely the ideal project manager in any case. The onboarding specialist is part of the post-sales team and coordinates all the necessary actions, even when many other actors are involved. Designate a single owner from the sales handoff through a successful launch.
  • A clear time horizon. It’s useful to have a target in mind that fits most customers’ situation, and adapt it depending on the use case they choose. Success for each onboarding program is going live by the time target. Success for the overall process is meeting the go-live expectations on a regular basis.
  • Clear expectations for customer actions. Customers often expect that the vendor will take care of everything for them and may not realize that they will need to marshall specific resources, grant access to data or systems, and participate in training and decision sessions. Clearly define the requirements right from the start and don’t be afraid to delay the onboarding if the customer is not quite ready.

What are your non-negotiable items for onboarding success? Tell us in the comments.

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