Last week we introduced our 7 Habits of Highly Effective Client Vetting series and looked at the first habit – Be Proactive. The main point is that you shouldn’t assume ANYTHING about a prospect—you must do your homework. With that in mind we’re going to dive deeper and address the vetting process itself. In order to establish and employ a worthwhile vetting process you have to clearly define the ideal outcome. By clearly defining the goal, and success criteria, you can begin to flesh out a process that’s sustainable and repeatable with the necessary milestones to make improvements along the way.
Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind
Before starting any task, it’s always a good idea to define the task’s purpose – in other words, have a game plan that will help you achieve your goal. Client vetting is no different. Without defining the goal, client vetting will be perceived as nothing more than a roadblock to on-boarding customers. The end result of rail-roading the on-boarding of customers leads to eating lunch alone, being mocked by the cool kids (sales), and a combination of wedgies and swirlies – basically high school all over again. Ok, maybe not the last two but you see where I’m going – the objective and mission of client vetting needs to be clearly defined so you can begin to assemble the resources that will get you to your goal. In the case of client vetting, the high level goal is straightforward: on board high quality senders where that represent the establishment of a mutually beneficial partnership. With this in mind, let’s begin to think about the steps that will speed us to our goal. .
Create Policy that Drives Success – If defining goals is the game plan then writing the policy is the playbook. The policy you create will be the criteria you look at when evaluating a potential customer. This can be done through the creation of Acceptable Use Policy, Terms of Service, Email Standards, Anti Spam Policy, or any combination. Also consider internal process documents and talking points to help communicate the overall objective and policies within your own company, department, and team. Remember, you need to be able to clearly explain and justify any email standard or policy you create – both internally and to potential customers.
Performance Metrics – In addition to policy items, be sure you are able to measure success objectively. Create performance metrics that align with your overall objectives.
Executive Support and Involvement – Don’t go rouge by creating policies and standards on your own. Involve the right executives in the discussion making process. Incorporate their feedback and get their buy in; if they fully understand and support the objectives of client vetting, they are far more likely to allocate resources to the cause.
Resources – Consider the various resources you’ll need to accomplish your goals:
Time – Don’t rush vetting or take shortcuts. Successful vetting is thorough vetting. Be sure to communicate timing and set expectations appropriately.
Staff – Because client vetting is time consuming, investing in additional staff may be necessary depending on sales pipeline.
Tools – While there are a lot of great free public tools out there, there are many paid tools that will make life easier. When researching tools, be sure to focus on value, not cost. Cutting corners can have long term costs beyond the few dollars you save up front.
Be Agile – After creating standards and policies, you may find you missed something major or you just aren’t getting the results you hoped to achieve. Don’t be afraid of change. Don’t lose sight of the end goal. Be flexible and make adjustments where necessary.
Collaboration – Talk with others in the industry. Share examples of victories and defeat when it comes to objectives, policies, and processes. Learn from each other and work together to improve the overall email ecosystem.
These are all important areas of emphasis in building a successful client vetting framework. Define success then put the foundation in place that will help take you there. Without clearly defined goals and ensuring all stakeholders are aware of the process, timing and the necessary resources, you may find yourself skirting through the process or glossing over key evaluations that lead to disaster. Next Up: Put First Things First
Director of Customer Performance