When making the sale on your professional services, there can be a let down from pushing so hard to get a proposal signed. I can understand the emotion that comes with getting a deal done.
However, moving from the sale to fulfilling what you sold is an important transition. The sale is really the start of the deal. The project kickoff is critical to orient everyone involved, including the client, as well as create clarity on the desired outcomes.
Over the years, here is how I like to design and execute project kickoffs to create high value for clients:
- Move fast after the proposal. I believe money loves speed. After your proposal is signed, communicate to the customer what will happen next. Communicate to your team. Set up the project in your system. I like Basecamp and Google Spaces. Schedule the kickoff meeting. These steps should be standardized, personal and within one business day from a signed proposal.
- Capture the to-do list. Create the list of actions and assign to the relevant team members and client participants. This forces you to get concrete on deliverables that you said you would deliver in your proposal. I like to force clarity. Your to-do’s should have imperatives. Start with a verb. Make the verbiage clear so the person understands the outcome of what they have to deliver.
- Frame what success looks like. In the project kickoff, explain what the outcome and the benefit will be. “We will work through three milestones to help your sales team increase revenues through accountability.” Review the to-do items. Explain how you will communicate and keep status on progress towards project completion.
- Maintain accountability. There needs to be a project manager who keeps eyes on the to-do’s each day and when there are dependencies or deadlines, alerts responsible team members for getting their tasks done. Communicate frequently and often. Make that part of the customer experience so there is not any lack of accountability or clarity.
The project kickoff meeting should get everyone on the same page and drive alignment around the goal. Outline the steps right after the sale and systemize this in your business process.
That handoff between sales and project management is risky because you can make the client feel discontinuity or extreme momentum in the transition.
How is your project kickoff process working today?