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Forget the Onboarding Kickoff, it's all about the Partnership Kickoff

For years Customer Success teams moved customer right from the sales cycle right into Onboarding without using this transition to align on the partnership. I recognized this was a huge missed opportunity and added a new step in my Customer Journey, the Partnership kickoff.

What is the Partnership Kickoff?

The Partnership Kickoff is a formal meeting with the Customer and the Account team that takes place as the very first step in the customer engagement. This meeting allows both parties to come together to align on the partnership and set proper expectations for the road ahead.

What do you cover in the Partnership Kickoff?

  1. Align on their business - This is a good opportunity to share with them what you've learned about their business while giving them an opportunity to go deeper or to clarify anything that would be of importance to know while supporting them.

  2. Review their Subscription - Highlight all of details around the products they purchased as well as the ones they did not. A lot of times during the sales cycle, product is discussed or features are covered and the customer assumes they are included, highlighting everything upfront avoids any frustration down the road.

  3. Partnership Overview - Introduce them formally to the account team structure as well as roles and responsibilities. Review what you expect from them as a partner and what they can expect from you. Agreeing to a cadence of engagement is also key at this time, while you have everyone present.

  4. Onboarding and Training Overview - Walk the customer through the Onboarding process so they know what to expect during this stage in the journey. Make sure you have access to proper members of their organization and that they are clear on what they will need to do in order to make this a success.

  5. Q&A and Next Steps - Always allow time to address any questions or concerns that come up and make sure the customer is crystal clear on what happens next.

Example of the Presentation Flow:

  • Agenda Slide - Highlight the agenda items as well as the objective of the meeting

  • Thank You Slide - Lead with gratitude and appreciation; welcome them to the partnership

  • Business Overview Slide - Include a slide with their logo and a few important elements of their business; allow them to speak to this in more detail.

  • Org Chart Slide - Provide a high-level org chart of their key players as you understand it and allow them to lean in with additional people and partnership roles.

  • Your Product Slide - Highlight all of your product offerings but call out specifically what is included in their subscription and what is not.

  • SOW or Technical Requirements - If there is technical work that needs to be completed make sure to address this during this meeting in as much detail as you feel is necessary.

  • Preferred Communication Slide - Take a moment to align with your customers on the best way to communicate with them (this will come in handy if they go dark later in the partnership) - Email, Phone, Text, In-App etc.

  • Partnership Goals Slide - Include a slide with the goals your AE shared with you; call out use cases and metrics if you have those as well. This will give the customer an opportunity to confirm or change these if needed.

  • Tech-Stack Review Slide - (optional) if your solution integrates with other products it would be a good opportunity to hear about all of the other products your customer is using. Even if this is not relevant to get started, this could be very helpful later in the partnership.

  • Account Team Slide - Include a slide that showcases your account team and include roles and responsibilities as well as contact information.

  • Customer Journey Slide - Introduce them to your Customer Journey; help them understand how you intend to guide them through the partnership and how you will partner together.

  • Onboarding Overview Slide - Walk them through the next 30-60-90 days (modify depending on the average length of your Onboarding); explain the different meeting types, goals and objectives and recommended participants

  • Required Assets Slide - (optional) If the customer needs to complete any documents or provide information in order to get started, make sure they are clear on this and that they have what they need to move forward.

  • Q&A Slide - Always allow time to answer questions and to make sure everyone is aligned and clear before concluding the meeting

  • Thank You Slide - Conclude the meeting by thanking them for their time, partnership and this opportunity.

Partnership Kickoff Follow Up

Immediately following the meeting be sure to do the following:

  1. Send a follow up email to everyone who participated and anyone else you've been asked to share that with

  2. Attach the presentation in a PDF form to prevent altering

  3. Include the meeting recording if this is available

  4. Attache the deck to the account record in your CRM/CSP or Shared Drive

  5. Log the call and meeting notes for future reference

  6. Build your Success Plan with the goals provided

  7. Send out the meeting invites for the next set of meetings

Moving to this model will not only ensure you and your customer are aligned and ready to embark on this journey together, you are also establishing what they can expect from you and the partnership.

Remember you only have one chance to make a first impression - Make it a good one.

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