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Designing an Onboarding Process for Scaling Your Coaching Business (with Megan Huber)

Designing an Onboarding Process for Scaling Your Coaching Business (with Megan Huber)

Learn how to design an onboarding process for scaling your coaching business in this presentation recording from the Great to Elite Online Summit for Coaching Businesses with Megan Huber, client fulfillment and retention strategist at Structured Freedom.

How clients make decisions

Clients make up their minds about staying or leaving a program within the first 90 days. The length of the program influences this decision, as shorter programs require quicker decision-making.

How clients make decisions

A good onboarding process is crucial to retaining clients, as it affects their satisfaction, experience, and early results. Results alone do not determine client satisfaction or engagement in a program. A balance between results and experience is necessary.

Clients’ decisions are based on feeling

Client interactions influence their feelings towards a program, and the dynamic changes after they become a paying client. The relationship shifts from that of a lead or prospect to a paying client. Both the client and coach are now building a different relationship.

How clients make decisions based on feelings

We want to understand what our clients value and how we want them to feel, and then create that experience immediately. I do this with my consulting clients to guide them in making program improvements.

The importance of client satisfaction for coaching businesses

This slide shows how people in these programs feel about their experience. The pros are that everyone speaks positively about the team, coach, leaders, and program experience. However, looking at the cons, there are things that cause hesitation for clients. 

These include reactive instead of proactive guidance, lack of call and program structure, poor accountability follow-up, subpar onboarding processes, weak Facebook community connections, disorganized membership portals, insufficient actionable instruction, and underutilization of the program. Many of these issues can be addressed through the onboarding process.

Example of client satisfaction survey about what client are looking for in choaching businesses

The top three mistakes of the onboarding process that coaching businesses make 

  1. No onboarding strategy

Clients make their decision early on in the program about whether they will stay or leave. Therefore, it's important to have an onboarding strategy that outlines what clients can expect when they join the program. The onboarding process should be designed to get clients started and engaged as soon as possible.

  1. Treating all clients the same 

As a high school teacher, I learned that every group of students had their own personality, way of communicating and operating, despite teaching the same subjects. This is often forgotten in education, online and coaching spaces, where we assume people will follow our process exactly as we did. 

However, each person needs to be led and facilitated differently, especially in a cohort-style teaching setting. Even with large groups, every person requires a different approach, and it's important to figure this out early on. 

This can be more challenging in online programs, as we lack the physical space to observe and understand personalities. You must be adaptable and willing to change course based on the type of people and group dynamics, which can evolve over time.

  1. Not collecting feedback from clients

In high-earning companies, the feedback collection process is often inadequate. They either don't collect any feedback at all, or they wait until the program ends to collect it. It is important to collect feedback much earlier in the process.

The importance of congruency for coaching businesses

We need congruency in the entire client experience, from marketing to delivery, and setting the expectation is crucial. In high-earning companies, I troubleshoot communication issues with unhappy clients or those who leave earlier than expected. Most complaints stem from miscommunication or lack of expectation-setting during onboarding.

Megan huber’s quote about the importance of setting expectations for coaching businesses

It's crucial to set the tone and expectation for the journey early on in the onboarding process, even in sales and marketing. Doing so avoids difficult conversations during renewal when clients realize they're not getting the expected results. Clients decide whether to continue working with a company during the initial stages, mostly between day zero and day 90 of the program.

From no onboarding strategy to creating an onboarding strategy

Below are the mistakes related to onboarding, from having no strategy to creating one. This list comes from Joy Coleman, the author of "Never Lose a Customer Again." I highly recommend reading the book.

8 phases in creating an onboarding strategy for coaching businesses

The two yellow lines indicate the beginning and end of the onboarding process, while Phase two to Phase six are the middle part of the process that Joy Coleman's book "Never Lose a Customer Again" doesn't cover. The onboarding process should be thought of as an event with a beginning, middle, and end. 

Knowing where clients are in the process can improve show up rates, engagement rates, retention rates, renewal rates, monthly recurring revenue, profit margins, and bottom line, while reducing the amount of time, energy, effort, and resources spent on acquiring new clients. Phase one is not part of the onboarding process.

1. Asses

Marketing is the initial stage where potential clients assess whether they have a problem that your service can solve, alongside evaluating other options available. 

2. Admit

The onboarding process begins the moment a person joins the program, which could be the moment they pay or give their credit card information. The admit phase is when the potential client acknowledges they have a problem, believes it can be solved, and decides to buy.

 3. Affirm

Within 24-48 hours of someone joining a program, many clients may experience buyer's remorse, doubt, fear, and uncertainty. To address this, there are two important communication pieces that should be sent out to new clients. 

The first communication should focus on delivering the value that was promised at the point of sale, such as by directing them to a membership portal or providing access to materials. The second communication should introduce the team, even if it's just the solo entrepreneur or a small team. This helps build trust and makes clients feel supported.

How to build trust with clients as a coaching business by introducing your team behind the program

There are six different forms of communication that can be used to introduce the team, including email, phone, gifts, in-person meetings, video, and snail mail. The onboarding process starts as soon as the person joins the program, and it's important to provide reassurance and confidence-building communication to help overcome potential buyer's remorse and uncertainty.

4. Activate

In post-sale interactions, it's important to send two key communications to new clients. Firstly, address objections they may have that were not addressed during marketing and sales. Identify the reasons why clients disengage and draft communication addressing those concerns. 

Secondly, tell a story about why they should be a highly engaged client and the benefits of taking action. Address misconceptions about the program and what clients need to believe to be successful.

Communication that you need to address to clients: objection and misconseptions

Personalize the onboarding process by developing a client growth plan and gathering information about their current situation, goals, success milestones, timelines, resources, and support system.

Why is a personalized client program important for coaching businesses

By personalizing the onboarding process, engagement, results, experience, and satisfaction can be increased, leading to more revenue and less marketing costs.

Also, find out how each client prefers receiving feedback and what success looks like for them as it differs for everyone.

How to personalize a client growth plan as a coaching business

5. Acclimate

In the onboarding process, it's important to help clients buy into your approach and communicate two key messages: wins and simplify. Remind clients of the structure or process in place to help them win. 

Emphasize how you're simplifying the process for them, even if you already did so in marketing and sales, as clients often get overwhelmed initially. These messages will help overcome client overwhelm and keep them engaged.

How to make your clients win and succeed in their goals

6. Accomplish

Clients achieve results, so onboarding should help them reach the first successful milestone. Onboarding isn't complete until clients meet at least one goal. The final two communication pieces are showing proof of successful clients and gathering feedback.

 Show proof of current or past successful clients, and have them share how they were successful in the program. Gather feedback at a suitable time through a survey to correct issues early on. Waiting six months is not ideal.

How to show proof and gather feedback as a coaching business

Key takeaways from this presentation

The client experience is crucial for differentiating yourself, your program, and your brand. The onboarding process is the top way to achieve this and ensure profitability. To do this, it's important to have a strategy in place for onboarding, personalize the experience from the beginning, and continuously improve and innovate for the future.

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