Starting a new relationship with any marketing vendor can be a stressful process. You’ve just made the decision to entrust your brand, your messaging and your hard earned dollars to a new organization. But you’ve done your homework, you’ve checked their resources and read their case studies, and you’ve made a smart decision about bringing in the experts to solve your marketing conundrum. What else can you do to ensure a successful partnership? dr-teamwork

There is one thing: consider a face-to-face onboarding process with your new vendor.

Recently, one of our DigitalRelevance client success teams traveled to San Francisco to meet with one of our latest partnerships. With an account director and several expert consultants and specialists in tow, it looked like an expensive trip for both client and agency – but the results of the two-day onboarding sessions were extraordinary.

Here are five reasons why face-to-face onboarding should be considered number one among vendor management best practices, along with the key takeaways from that early start to an awesome client-agency partnership.

1. Fast transfer of knowledge

One of the most key aspects of our onboarding process was how much our strategic and execution teams were able to learn in a very short time period. With a week or two to look over brand documents and client information for our agency team, and a similar period for the client to prepare internally for meetings with key stakeholders, there was a lot to learn and a lot to manage.

Thankfully, all of the preparation paid off. Our team hit the ground running, already familiar with the client’s audiences, overall marketing goals, latest marketing campaigns and goals for our partnership. Likewise, the client was able to show off its newest agency to stakeholders and draw on their expertise to help train the visitors, learning about the partnership and our collective goals along the way.

2. Matching a face with a name

Another benefit of meeting with several different client departments and key individuals was that it gave both teams the chance to introduce themselves and get familiar with one another. This crucial element paved the way for future communications, as all parties were educated with the purpose and process of the partnership, what kinds of participation might be necessary in the future, and who those requests and communications would be coming from.

It also gave those key individuals a chance to see the commitment of their newest agency, as well as educate and enlighten the agency team so marketing efforts could be integrated across all necessary departments much more seamlessly.

3. Trust building

The chance to meet face to face also brought with it an opportunity to get real and get comfortable. When a client can lay out the details of what’s expected and what’s at stake, it lets the agency know very quickly what kind of work will be necessary, and gives key clues on how to communicate and present back to the client. Furthermore, it offers the agency a chance to demonstrate their dedication, expertise, and passion.

One of the key results for our client success team was being able to build trust by demonstrating our expertise in certain marketing efforts, talk about past successes with our clients and industries and generally showcase our company and team culture. Breeding this kind of familiarity not only helps communications between teams, but can also help put sceptics to rest when they see firsthand the kind of individuals and company overall they’ll be working with.

4. Great minds think alike

One of the highlights of the entire trip came towards the end of the onboarding visit, when the two teams had one final session to defragment and summarize all of the sessions to that point and start to work together as a team. What followed was an awesome brainstorming session during which key client stakeholders got to state some of their big ideas and draw on the expertise of our client success team to enhance those ideas. We also had the opportunity to offer some of our own big ideas.

This brainstorming session lead to several good ideas, at least one of which was validated by our research processes and identified as a great community contribution. It was also one more chance for us to demonstrate our process and methodology, creativity and passion to help the client succeed, and another chance for our client to help align our thinking to the goals, decisions and key performance indicators that would ultimately move the needle and affect their bottom line.

5. Team building

Finally, the onboarding sessions provided a chance for our agency team to really pull together as a unit. Even though our client success teams work together every single day, none of us had been through an intense, cross-country onboarding trip like this. Research, ideas, passion and more got passed across airplane aisles, dinner tables, conference rooms and hotel breakfast nooks.

This not only brought our entire team together for the ultimate goal of client success, it also cut down education time back home, where instead of one or two individuals sharing what they learned with their team, we hit the Indianapolis tarmac running with a clear direction of what to do next and where we were going from here.

Our client trip provided the team with a different kind of energy, where we had already been “in the trenches,” and knew we had a partnership that was built on solid ground. The names we put with faces, the early relationships we built, and all of the knowledge we were able to soak in and start off with have all been key factors in pushing the envelope of innovation, teamwork, and campaign success for this client.

Are you ready to see what our team can do for you? Contact us today to get started!

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