Sales closes the deal, and the team celebrates. Great win! You hear they’re “looking to get up and running quickly” and are raring to go. It’s taken a while to close, so that’s totally understandable.
But just diving into the implementation headfirst can hurt a lot more than it helps.
While you want to stay efficient and keep the momentum going, sometimes it can pay to slow down - ultimately to speed up.
A pre-kickoff survey is a great example. It can really help both you and your customer get the relationship off to a great start. Here’s why:
You had a handoff from sales, who mentioned in a Slack to you a couple reasons why the customer bought. You want to just take that as gospel and show it off on the kickoff call and prove you know the customer right?
Actually, maybe not.
For one thing, that could have been months ago, so things may have changed. For another, the person who was involved in the sales process/signed the check may not be the person who you are working with now. You also want something in writing you can actually point to if needed. Finally, doing it “live” doesn’t give someone else much chance to think deeply about the question, so they’ll often just nod. Give them space and time to think about this.
You don’t want to discard everything from the sales process though (it is still relevant :)). One way to prove you were still listening is to do a bit of “pre-fill” on the question and ask the customer to validate and add to what is written.
If you don’t want to get into specific objective finding on a survey too, that’s fine - one of my favorite questions is simply to ask “Why are you excited about using us” and “In 6 months, what would it mean for us to be a big win for you/your team?”. It’s casual, but often reveals a lot.
It’s a simple survey - do they complete it on time? Especially if implementation is long and involves a lot of work to be done, it’s a potential indicator of how things may go- the relationship is a marathon, not a sprint after all. This “sniff test” can also help you get in front of overworked admins who don’t have the time needed to give your product a good chance of success.
I even recommend not doing a kickoff until the survey has been completed. Give and take.
Flexing the working relationship muscle early on and developing some rapport can help your customer feel more comfortable with you as well.
Your implementation probably isn’t a smooth curve line of work. Weeks 1 and 2 might be slower, while the integrations in week 3 is 3x the work.
Asking your customer to be “prepared” for these moments (e.g., by having them list specifically who they will be bringing on from engineering to help) can go a long way.
This can show your professionalism and help your customer help you by aligning resources or making sure they clear their calendar for you when you need it most. That way, you’re not “stuck” or backpedaling halfway through (never good!).
So huge! While you shouldn’t have your customer spending hours digging up data, there is likely a set of current metrics your customer can provide that you can help move. This may be harder to go back and dig up in the future, so try and get it on paper now.
Your product can’t easily be quantified? Give them a 1-5 scale and see how that compares by asking the same question during your 6 month check-in.
Keep it short; this shouldn’t be a 50 question 2 hour test. I recommend keeping it under 10 minutes to allow someone to tackle it during their down time.
And hopefully it goes without saying, but don’t just let the answers get recorded and not discuss with your customer. Acknowledge and thank them for the submission, and try to incorporate some of their answers in a kick off or followup. Clarify where needed, and bring your own suggestions to the table based on working with other customers.
This can make you look smart and get ahead of the inevitable “so how are other customers using this?” question.
Best of luck and as always, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch!