In the earlier days of software, onboarding went like this: the correct number of licenses were purchased, there was an onboarding process, then setup, and then you were done—end of story.
In the last couple of years, this has completely changed. Since we have created the API Interfaces and Webhooks there is no longer a single software setup and onboarding—it is a series of iterations. Software publishers and customers alike are constantly optimizing and making their processes better.
In other words, it’s nothing like the product many of us remember from our childhoods: Nutella. Nutella is a sweetened hazelnut-cocoa spread, originally launched in 1964. It has remained virtually unchanged for nearly 60 years.
Compare that to our product Pipeliner CRM. In the last year, we made a couple of thousand changes to Pipeliner CRM! That was only for the product itself—it doesn’t take into consideration the customization changes made by ourselves to make all our processes more in line with an ever-changing business.
That is why the graphic you see above for onboarding is a modified infinity symbol. One iteration is launched and makes its way through the whole process. It winds its way back to launch, and the entire process begins again.
Everything begins somewhere, and we start with Launch. We couple #1, Launch, together with #2, Establish, for reasons that will soon become apparent—but let’s begin with Launch.
For a company, the Launch step begins with finding a CRM. And, of course, as a company does that, we’re right there to introduce them to our CRM and our concepts and get them started.
In our case, Launch begins with a Pipeliner sales rep introducing the concept of iterations so that the customer understands that you can’t launch a CRM, right from the beginning, with absolutely everything in place. For example, you’re not going to make CRM-ERP integrations and integrations with the rest of your company’s applications while simultaneously launching CRM.
Our onboarding doesn’t begin (as with many CRM products) after the sales process but during the sales process. We are already starting the customer on the service journey. As part of Launch, we’re setting the expectation for the buyer’s journey and the benefits they’ll gain from the product.
It’s important for a CRM company such as ourselves to not only have the best product, but the best possible team to assist a company with their very first and future iterations. The software is constantly being improved, and those improvements are steadily shared with customers.
This is vitally important in a changing business landscape and a changing world. People everywhere are waking up to these changes. I firmly believe that this year will bring more shifts than ever before because everything is turning around from the previous 2 years.
Therefore there will be a tremendous amount of progress. Toward what? Toward more flexibility. Toward more freedom— such as the freedom to work wherever a person wants, and pursue unique and engaging projects. Every one of us is improving the software and the processes, and the successes in doing so are reflected in our many outstanding reviews.
For these reasons, the Launch is indeed an ongoing process.
For Pipeliner, the Establish step means establishing the team that will be using Pipeliner, and establishing how they will be using it. This establishment is done to avoid what customers may have become frustrated with in the past—having to constantly repeat information.
This happens every time I call my bank. I get a person on the phone and tell them why I called. I get partway into the story and they say, “Oh! One moment! I’ll have to transfer you to another department.” I get to the following department, and they once again ask for all the information I just gave to the first person. And if I’m still not with the correct department, they’ll transfer me again, and I’ll go through it all once more.
Therefore our pre-sales team obtains all of the needed information, so anyone you deal with now or in the future will have immediate access to your details.
The Establish meeting will set your team up for the first iteration of Pipeliner CRM in your company.
In this stage, we come together and have a setup meeting with the key people who will be using the product. We’re going to define the specification of the first iteration and, if necessary, introduce all the team members.
You cannot go onto the next stage, Implement if you don’t know what you will implement. So, in other words, what do you want to accomplish? What will you need? It might be onboarding documents, specific training, or further specifying requirements. These things need to be identified in the Setup phase.
The setup meeting can be as long or short as needed, depending on the size of the project. We want to come away knowing exactly how we’re going to implement Pipeliner.
Next, we will analyze the requirements we came up with earlier and begin implementing the migration of data. We start implementing the installation of APIs, customer-defined fields, the embedding of software, and other elements as they are needed.
Because we are a technical product, there might be training and consulting later in the Implement phase. We first train the administrator or administrators and then the end-users.
A vital part of the Implement stage is change management. When you implement a new solution, there will always be resistance to change that must be overcome. Many people would rather remain with the “old ways” even when a change would improve their lives.
The answer is to paint a picture of how things will be better after the change. This is the classic “What’s In It For Me?” approach – to achieve the greatest level of buy-in, you need to show the users how this new system is going to impact their specific role.
(In an unrelated example, a person could lie on the beach while technology worked for them. This literally happened with one of my staff who normally works from Bratislava, Slovakia. Fed up with covid restrictions, she took her child and a friend and spent a month in Thailand. She was able to work from a beautiful beach during that time.)
In the Implement portion of onboarding, we clearly demonstrate that the change in CRM will be highly beneficial. We show, for example, that automating routine CRM tasks through Pipeliner’s Automatizer feature could reduce manual tasks by 80 percent. CRM users would therefore have 80 percent more time. There are many more such benefits.
In this phase, we examine and demonstrate what benefits the company gained.
- I would recommend that a company have a Review meeting 90 days after concluding the Implement step. You want answers to questions such as: How was the onboarding?
- How was the training?
- How are users adopting this first iteration?
- What has the user feedback been?
- What makes Pipeliner different from earlier CRM experiences?
- Are there any issues that we must immediately address and rectify?
- Do we now need to create a road map for features that have not yet been implemented?
This phase is called “Adopt-Review” because we want to ensure the customer actually adopted the system. If a company doesn’t fully adopt, we know something is wrong. We need to begin planning immediately for the next iteration, which will start a new Launch cycle.
Again, we don’t Launch with everything all at once—it just can’t be done. Going back to the example of our Automatizer feature, when we at Pipeliner first implemented it in our own company, we automated maybe 2 to 4 processes. Today, just over 2 years later, we have 220 processes and counting. Just this year alone, we’ve already created 10 new Automatizer processes.
At this point, the customer has reached the first level of maturity and we’re ready to move into the next phase, which will be the next iteration. Generally, the next iteration will be more complex because that’s the direction technology typically takes.
It’s important to remember that the future consists of ongoing changes. Customers are changing, industries are changing, and society is changing. Competitors might be changing, too, and perhaps a company needs to react to competitor changes as part of the next iteration.
Other factors that could enter into the new iteration could be a new department coming on board, new users, new software the company wants to integrate with CRM, or additional Pipeliner features that the company intends to begin taking advantage of.
A key benefit of Pipeliner CRM is Dynamic Instant Visualization. As we move through our infinite onboarding, we can instantly visualize the changes that need to be made.
And then…we return once again, in the new iteration, to a brand new Launch stage!