Onboarding Checklist to Help Activate New Clients


Onboarding new clients is just as important, if not more so than, onboarding new team members. After all, you don’t want every new client acquisition to feel like you’re starting over with a whole new process that no one understands. To rely on an age-old adage, you shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel with each customer. 

There’s a lot of excitement in bringing on new clients. There are also a lot of details that need to be covered. Usually, the two don’t mix well. That’s why it is much easier to have a documented, standardized onboarding process that includes a checklist. This will ensure that clients are brought up to speed more quickly and that you can save your energy for the clients and their needs. 

Welcome everyone first and foremost 

The first step on your checklist should be to welcome every new client. Send them the necessary onboarding documents and information forms, as well as any other information or paperwork. Don’t be sterile about it, either, unless that’s the nature of your business. Welcome people with warmth and let them know you’re happy to have them on board. 

Take care of legal matters 

No one wants to spend a lot of time worrying about legal issues, contracts, and other matters when they could be focused on taking care of business. Make sure that you have an NDA and established agreement for all clients to sign. This shows you’re on top of things and keeps everything square for both parties. 

This is where you’ll:

  • Send and/or sign NDAs
  • Send and/or sign contracts
  • Save all copies and send them to the client manager

If you can get a good NDA and contract set up, you can automate the contract process, including using eSignature tools so that your clients can simply click their way through signing everything. Talk about convenience and ease of use. 


Make sure that you also take care of all the administrative housekeeping up front. Your financial steps will vary based on your industry and clients, but could include things like:

  • Sending W-9s or other tax documents
  • Adding clients to accounting software
  • Logging rates 
  • Signing into the client’s accounting software
  • Sending the first invoice 

If your financial processes are different, that’s fine. Just make sure that you have a checklist for covering all the bases here when you onboard new clients. 


You’ve already sent the welcome wagon. Now it’s time to open the lines of communication for good. Join team chats, share message boards and collaborative tools, and add client labels to your inbox. Make sure that your teams are set up for the new clients, too. 

After this, you can schedule a kickoff call to get things rolling. This gives you a chance to touch base and make sure that you both understand the arrangement and that everything has been taken care of to this point. Use this time to sort out all the last-minute details so that you can get started. 

Project management 

The final step in onboarding will be to have a project management checklist that helps you get projects rolled out smoothly and without issue. You will want to add clients to project management apps, time-tracking tools, and other project management software that you use. Create an initial list of to-do items so that you can get the ball rolling. Then, assign those tasks and make sure the due dates are known to all. 

File sharing 

Although this could technically be its own step, it falls under the project management category. This is where you’ll create client folders in your own sharing software and add clients to shared folders so that everyone can see the deliverables and check the progress of various projects. 

Automate onboarding for more efficiency

If you want to make the onboarding process even more streamlined and efficient, you can invest in automation tools to help with all the tedious, repetitive tasks that don’t really require human attention. You can have a tool like Zapier, for example, that’s set to immediately send financial documents and other paperwork when a client comes on board, or to execute the file-sharing process once the onboarding gets to that point, and so forth. 

Although you can’t automate the entire process, some things can definitely be handled by AI and modern software tools. Look into that and see where you can add these solutions to help you save time and make sure that your team is available for the clients who need them. 

The benefits of a streamlined onboarding process 

There are so many perks that come from having a dedicated process in place for the client onboarding phase. It’s a critical time in your relationship and you need to be able to focus all of your energy on the client. Therefore, the process itself should happen seamlessly and without much effort. 

When you have a streamlined onboarding process, that will be the case. You will spend less time taking care of “things” and more time taking care of your clients, which is the end goal, after all. 

When you have a standard process, you will have:

  • Better relationships with clients
  • Better client experiences
  • More client retention
  • Stronger teamwork and company culture
  • Increased productivity 
  • Less chance of missing important steps 

It’s all about making sure that the clients are taken care of. If you make that as easy as possible, you can spend more time doing other things. 

While you’re streamlining, why not free up some admin time?

Partner with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai if you want to get even more out of your streamlined efforts. We can work as your 24/7 answering service to make sure that you never miss a lead. Plus, we can also assist with appointment scheduling and lead intake, as well as offer support for your outreach campaigns to get those leads in the first place. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai

Business Education

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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