Client Kick-Off Meeting Agenda: Nail Down Scope and Banish the Creep

Picture this: You’ve got a fantastic client closed. You’re psyched to get started and hand the project off to the account manager. 

So, everyone can just jump right in and start cracking on those deliverables, right? 


What exactly did sales promise to the client? How can your team deliver on those promises if you just jump right in? Do that, and you’re missing a crucial step in the delivery process. 

Finding clients is tough. Retaining clients? Easy to mess up. So, what to do?

The answer lies in a client kick-off meeting.

A client kickoff meeting agenda clears the air between sales, the account manager, and the team assigned to the project. 

The result? 

Promises delivered and happy clients. Let’s get the scoop below. 

What’s a Client Kickoff Meeting?

A kickoff meeting is the first official meeting between the client and the project team. Consider it as a date where you want to know as much as you can about the other person (here, the client).

Apart from defining the whats and whys, it also explains the hows, giving the project a clear direction.

Why do you need a client kick-off meeting agenda anyway?

Kickoff isn’t just a step to take before project completion. It defines the project and gives it a direction that’s often missing (even after a client is acquired).

The right setting and attitude play a crucial role in holding this meeting successfully.

So, besides a comfortable environment, choose a confident mindset too. And, let the project roll with a bang.

Kicking it off with the right agenda

While every project is different, it pays off to have a well-defined structure before starting a project. 

Here’s the client kick-off framework I swear by:

Step #1. Meet and Greet

Greet the client with all the courtesy you have in the world. 

Remember, the first impression is the . . . yeah, you know that already. So, begin the meeting by congratulating all and thanking them for their time to be present there. 

A simple thank-you can be a fantastic ice-breaker and conversation-starter. Use it well.

Step #2. Review the Onboarding Form Responses

Take a moment to revisit the client onboarding form and recount the project background. It’ll help in getting a better understanding of not just the objectives, but the project pain-points too.

Step #3. Service and Scope

Rallying for scope consensus is the cornerstone of a successful kickoff. 

Inform the client about how your business and service works and agree upon the project scope. 

Go through the timelines, estimates, statements of work, etc.

Step #4. Team Introductions and Role-defining

Introduce who’s who on each team and map roles to assign deliverables.

Step #5. Questions and Answers

Next, let the client ask you questions about a particular process or raise concerns they want you to troubleshoot within a platform. Discuss and clear misunderstandings. Leave nothing to imagination or guesswork. 

Step #6. Keep Things Moving

Share sales tips or any other relevant info that’ll keep up the meeting’s momentum and fill those awkward silences. 

Step #7. Collaboration and Communication

Fix a collaboration process with no loopholes in the communication and reporting framework. Strongly consider using cloud-based tools to make your life easier and collaboration smoother.

Step #8. Next Steps

Come up with a project mission statement, if possible. Ensure that each attendee knows what comes next and what’s expected of them to drive the project to fruition. Set-up full project clarity before impatience takes over the meeting. 

And yes, it means you can and should ask that intern to sit back, until everyone’s on the same page. 

No leaving the room without a clear-cut action plan. 

If you want to avoid failing to deliver on promises, and bridge the gap between sales and the project team, then schedule a client kickoff meeting. 

It’ll give your account manager and team members the clear-cut action plan they need to deliver. And your clients will thank you.

  1. Schedule a meet-and-greet and thank everyone involved.
  2. Review and discuss the client onboarding form responses.
  3. Define and align the service and scope with what sales promised. 
  4. Introduce the team and define everyone’s roles and responsibilities.
  5. Collaborate, communicate, and get started on next steps.

Are you ready to execute your projects like a pro and scale up your business like never before? Check this case study on how a divorced single mom of two turned her side project into a growing business.

Why Your Agency Needs a Client Onboarding Process

86% of consumers say they’re more likely to remain loyal to a brand if it invests in onboarding content — welcoming them and educating them after they’ve made a purchase. 

Did you know that more than half of consumers have returned a product/ service, 

simply because they didn’t know how to use it? 

Client onboarding is crucial for retaining customers and increasing brand loyalty. 

So, what does it take to have a supercharged client onboarding process in place? 

Don’t make it easy for your competitors to steal your hard-won clients. 

We’ll show you how to get started with a client onboarding process that’ll improve your customer retention rates. 

What Is a Client Onboarding Process?

Love it or hate it, client onboarding is the red-headed stepchild of your business. 

You know it’s there.

You know it needs a lot of TLC. 

But you still ignore it and put all your focus on the sales process instead.

And herein lies the problem:

Your customers deserve your attention even after you close the deal. 

That’s why client onboarding exists and is relevant.  

The client onboarding process is your ability to pass the baton from sales to production successfully. 

It’s the experience you give to your client as soon as you, well, onboard them. 

From the customer’s point-of-view, onboarding is the support they expect to get post-sale. 

But why does client onboarding matter?

A recent study by Wyzowl found that over 63% of surveyed customers believed the onboarding process was an essential part of their decision to partner with a brand. 

When customers feel unappreciated during the onboarding process, 

they’re likely to stop doing business with that company and take their dollars elsewhere 

— to someone who gives a damn. 

So, what does that mean for you? 

Those amazing customer acquisition strategies you’ve created won’t give your business a double or triple-digit revenue increase if your customer retention is low. 

To give your clients the confidence that they’ve put their resources in the right team, you need to spend at least half of your business development budget (roughly 10% of your revenue) on the customer experience.

The effects of this investment may not be immediate. 

But investing in customer experience can skyrocket your business revenue by 200%.

It’s that powerful. 

Remember, regardless of what you may have believed so far, client onboarding is your company’s backbone. 

Five Key Parts of An Effective Client Onboarding Process

Establishing an effective client onboarding can be overhauled in a few hours. Use these five simple steps to get started. 

  1. Client Intake  — Begin with the end in mind and make a list of all of the assets, things, or people you’ll need to create a fantastic client journey.
  2. Client Brief — Before your team starts working on a project, ensure they have a detailed understanding of the client’s requirements. A client brief is all the information on a project, from sales to production. The absence of an excellent brief risks failing to deliver what you’ve promised your client. So, make sure the client brief is accurate, detailed, and on-point.
  3. Welcome Kit — Acquiring a new customer may be exhilarating for a business. For a client, though, it may lead to buyer’s remorse. This is where a Welcome Kit, with a positive email, helps build trust in your business right from the start.
  4. Kickoff — Set the stage for the client’s expectations with a good project kickoff meeting. Ensure clear communication while introducing your team to the client and reinforce that the client has made the right decision by choosing you.
  5. Client Results — Client onboarding doesn’t end at the start of production. Map your client’s journey and measure the results against the promises you’ve made — regularly. During this process, cover all the touchpoints of your client’s journey for a seamless experience without chaos.

Supercharge your  Client Onboarding 

A quick reminder here — the moment you onboard a client, kick it into high gear! 

Keep that $$$ – attracting a new client costs five times more than retaining the existing one.

  1. Scope out client intake to get a handle on the people, assets, and steps to take for success.
  2. Give your team a detailed understanding of the project with a client brief.
  3. Build trust with your client with a Welcome Kit.
  4. Ensure clear communication and deliver on promises with a kickoff meeting.
  5. Map your client’s journey and measure the results.


View our Client Management Checklist to learn what client management systems you should implement after onboarding. 

Client Interview Questions & Insights

Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Wait, what?

Did he just say the most unhappy

What – wait, what about the others?

Well, they add to your learning curve too. 

Provided you know what they are actually thinking!

If you’ve been wracking your brain to find new ways to reach and connect with your target audience, interviewing your clients during the offboarding process can give you great ideas and insight.

A recent colleague asked, “But Juliana, how do you interview your clients in a candid way, that they spill the beans?”

Well, this is how. 

Scheduling an Exit Interview

I reach out to interviewees a week or two in advance, with a simple email asking their availability for a 25-minute interview.

Once I get a go-ahead, I ask them the following questions during the interview. Let me Disclose these are not my questions. These have been passed down from generation to generation of marketers like a fable and the source has been washed by the sands of time. 

They are still my favorite though. 

Before we jump to the questions, here are a couple of tips for you from a pro:

Pro Tip: These are time-tested questions that have helped me receive some of the best responses ever. Altering them isn’t recommended. At all.

Super Pro Tip: Keep asking “why” to get to the heart of the matter.

Client Interview Questions to Ask

  • Before we started working together, what were you trying to do? What were the challenges you had? What were you trying to accomplish? Why?
  • What were you frustrated by? What problems did we help you solve in your business? Why?
  •  What did you want? How do we improve your business? Why?
  •  What was your fear? What were you concerned about? What was your fear if you didn’t get what you wanted?
  •  How did the other people involved in the decision all feel about this? What did they want? What were they frustrated by? What did they fear?

Questions to Understand the Pre-Buying Process

While email marketing doesn’t really focus on these questions, you can use them for future reference, especially while conducting a sales call.

  •  What was most important to you when you were making a decision?
  •  What factors didn’t matter as much?
  •  Who was involved in the decision-making process? Who made the final decision or signed the contract? What was their title?
  •  Who else did you look at? What other companies did you talk to? What other ways did you look at solving this problem?
  •  Why did you decide to go with us versus other companies or alternatives?

Questions to Understand the After-Sale Process

  • What do you like about us?
  • How could we improve? Any feedback?
  • If you were to describe what we do to another company, what would you say?
  • Is there anything else you want to add or how we can be helpful?
  • Based on what you know about us, can you think of anyone else whom it might make sense for me to talk to?

To make the process simpler, I open a google doc on my screen before I start the interview and copy and paste the questions listed above.

I take as much notes as I can o catch the feeling that the customer carries for my brand.

Sup Up Client Insights

As it turns out, scheduling an exit interview with your clients helps in getting the much-needed brand clarity to drive more customers to your offerings. 

Conducting an offboarding client exit interview also enables you to figure out what your target audience genuinely wants — not what the industry says they do.

So, if you’re keen on capitalizing on consumer decisions and behavioral studies, begin the charity at home by interviewing your clients during the offboarding process. 

  1. Schedule your exit interview. Use the question “why” to dig for those nuggets of insight.
  2. Ask questions that uncover your client’s pre-buying processes, like why they chose your company over a competitor, and who was the ultimate decision maker.
  3. Uncover your client’s after-sale thoughts. Find out what they enjoyed about working with your company, and what they didn’t. 
  4. Use the end of the interview as an opportunity to ask for referrals. 

Oh, and always remember to thank them before starting the interviews and again while wrapping up. 

After all, they’re doing you a favor. 

So, be sure to treat it like one.

How do I prevent unreasonable, ridiculous client requests?

You were doing the happy dance after landing that new client. Wooot woot.

But it’s been a couple of weeks and the emails, the texts, the voicemails and questions at ungodly hours just keep pouring in. You’re starting to wonder if that additional $$$ is worth all the time they’re sucking out of you.

Juliana “I’m going batshit. How do I deal with all these ridiculous, requests that leave me frustrated and annoyed?”

BUT, have you ever thought your time isn’t being sucked dry by your engagement, but actually by your onboarding?

Onboarding Clients

>>> Click here to download the easy Onboarding Checklist if you know you have issues with crazy client requests.

Breaking out of the “request” trap: a quick story…

Armando is a client of mine who does digital marketing. He came to me because he felt like he was at capacity.

He had no weekends, no time for his partner and started to see the signs of an intsy bit of muffin top because the treadmill was collecting dust.

Every day he crossed his fingers that a client didn’t call him because he just didn’t have the time, energy or even the patience to even deal with them. His saying was, “If they are not calling it means everything is great.” They were constantly asking him to make changes and do reporting he was never getting paid for. (Sound familiar?)

So we took a look at his client engagements to assess what was affecting his ability to produce results.

And the discoveries were surprising … well, for him at least.

We realized that many of his client issues had very little to do with capacity and almost everything to do with onboarding — not setting up boundaries and expectations, or even knowing what the clients’ digital marketing starting point was in the first place.

I told Armando…

Your clients are trying to board a plane to an amazing destination, but if you want to take on a great volume of clients, you are going to have to go TSA on their ass and make sure they know the rules before boarding”.

We all hate the TSA strip search, the 100ml bottle restrictions, no shoes, no sweater, taking out your laptop — we hate it, BUT we comply anyway. There’s a process — if you travel you are made aware and get conditioned to it. There is simply no wiggle room.

The same needs to happen with your service. Then plenty of people can happily board for your destination.

So we set up his onboarding process, created an actionable workflow in his project manager, saved 20 hours a month and were then able to increase his revenue by 45% in the next three months.

The best part was that he had now his whole process documented and hired a client success manager to take care of onboarding and client service. Whhhhhaaat!?

Love to get the same results?

>>> Click here to download my Client Onboarding Checklist if you want to see what we used for Armando’s onboarding.

Bonus Tip: Establishing ground rules is going to create the biggest 80/20 impact for your onboarding. Think about:

    • When do you want them to reach you?
    • What’s the rule for scheduling — i.e. 48 hours, 24? (And is there a consequence to this?)
    • How many points of contact will there be for you? Which team members are you engaging with?
  • If you have a tangible deliverable: How many edits or iterations are you allowing in the scope of work before there is a change order?

Disclaimer: Don’t tell your clients about how they are hijacking your session or project!

Now most of you will take action, BUT…

…for those of you who’d love some ideas that are more specific to your business, I’m super happy to hop on a quick call to chat about what you need to have a headache free client relationship. I take the first three inquiries every week, so click here to schedule yours now!