How to tell if concierge onboarding is right for your business

Nope. Hot dog stands shouldn't do concierge onboarding.


We’ve written a lot about the benefits of concierge onboarding - but it isn't for every business and may not be for you.

Concierge onboarding gets your customers engaged in a dialog

That's the main benefit concierge onboarding can deliver - and it is what lifecycle emails, tool tips, and UI changes cannot do.

Dialogue gets you customer insight, which is why concierge onboarding is continuous customer development. This insight is also the foundation for getting him to think - and therefore behave - differently.

But for three types of companies, this is overkill. You don’t need the customer to think and act differently. You just need him to pick you over the competition.

Three types of companies where concierge onboarding is overkill

1. You’re looking for a one-time sale, not a subscription.

Since people buy on emotion, telling a persuasive and compelling story is enough to drive a one-time sale.

If you sell books, training courses, and information products, you don’t need to do concierge onboarding. Just write copy convincing a customer that if he buys your product, his life will never, ever be the same again.

With one-time sales, people look at the book on the shelf that they never opened and think, “Oh well."

Not so with subscriptions. Every time a customer gets billed, he questions your product's value.

Every renewal is a new sale.

2. Simple — Your product can be put alongside other known products on a shelf.

For simple products, behavioral emails and UI changes are enough — customers are sold on the problem and solution, you just need to nudge them towards yours.

Examples are consumer products that people already need and use such as Google Hangout, Skype, and (my favorite), Zoom.

3. You’re competing on price.

The value of what you sell is known and your strategy is to be the cheapest provider.

If you’re aiming to be cheaper than Amazon or Walmart, you don’t need to do concierge onboarding.

To flip this...

Here's how you know if concierge onboarding is worth doing in your startup

1. You charge a subscription. And therefore, need your customers to change their behavior and use your product regularly.

2. Your product is complex. You’re doing something disruptive. You need to sell the customer not only on choosing your company as a provider, but that he even has a problem worth taking action on.

Note: your product is probably much more complex than you realize.

3. You compete on value. You strategy is to price high and provide 10x the value.

This is the case for most B2B SaaS companies. You’re doing something innovative and disruptive.

You're so ahead of the market, your customer is not even looking for a solution to the problem you’re solving yet…

The Challenger Sale sums the issue perfectly:

It’s not that you’re asking customers to buy your product and put it up on the shelf with all of the other products they’ve bought. Rather, you’re asking customers to change their behavior — to stop acting in one way and starting acting in another. To make that happen, you have to get customers to think differently about how they operate. You need to show them a new way to think about their business.

If you're selling a recurring subscription that's complex and competes on value... You need to do concierge onboarding and get customers to think differently.

Special thanks to Tomasz Tunguz's excellent post for inspiring the connection between selling solutions and SaaS apps in Challenging Your Customers During Your SaaS Startup's Sales Process.

What is Concierge Onboarding? Read about All Aboard!

Photo credit: Keith Cooper