If you are a freelancer, designer, creative coach, or anyone who offers a service to others, you may have likely had a process you've been using or a process that is used but never followed. For me, being able to keep up with inquiries and clients is a must! It got to a point in my business recently where I needed more than just an excel spreadsheet - I needed additional processes and more organized methods.
When it comes to getting new clients, I've taken a huge look at my current intake and onboarding process and have since created a more streamlined way to handling this portion of my business. From inquiries to that paid agreement. I was able to create a more effective, efficient, and simple way to dealing with all the things necessary when nurturing new clients. Muy importante if you're a "solopreneur" - work smarter, not harder.
CREATE AN INTRODUCTORY PROCESS
From the moment a potential client/customer lands on your website, they should instantly be able to tell if you can provide whatever they are seeking. That means putting "what you do" front and center. You don’t want to make potentials be forced to go on a scavenger hunt searching for anything on your website. Make it easy for them.
Any potential client that lands on my website or even sales pages will automatically be "walked" through a process.
When visitors make their way to my contact page, a short and simple form for connecting with me is displayed. I wanted to be able to get enough information from them that would help me not only understand what they are seeking but also the part of the process where I can offer more information as well without having them to await feedback (works great if inquiring on weekends when I'm unavailable.)
Once their form inquiry is sent my way - they instantly receive an email from my form's autoresponder. I totally have a beautiful relationship with Jotform. Any form you create gives you the option to set up an autoresponder email if you desire. I LOVE it and it's for FREE.99 if you don't need more than 100 submissions a month! Included in my autoresponder to potential clients:
See Read: 3 Free Autoresponder Platforms To Streamline Your Business
I've gotten some compliments off of just this process alone. Previously, the email didn't include an invite to chat - I made it hard by emailing them directly asking what worked best for them and vice versa. I implemented this and the time saved is priceless! Peep the example below: (insert photo)
AUTOMATE, THEN AUTOMATE AGAIN
For the longest time, working for myself has given me some of the worse headaches. Before I truly knew about the benefits of automation - I would literally have to do EVERY-THANG and then some when it came to responding to emails, sending over invoices and contracts, etc. If you're reading this, you are more than likely doing the very same thing as we speak. You can save so much time with doing more important things instead of having to worry about crafting emails or even remembering what needs to be done next.
For client onboarding, if you don't use CRM - you are losing! A CRM is Customer Relationship Management tool/software that can be used to streamline your intake process. This allows you to input your clients and potential clients into a sales process/funnel. For example:
Stacy recently inquired about having graphic design services via your contact form. Her name and information was syndicated to your CRM which then placed her in your sales process. If she didn't schedule a chat via the email she received after submitting her inquiry - your CRM sends out a follow-up email 48 hours later to "check in". Stacy reads the email - your CRM records that and proceeds to add her to your "leads" list… (Stacy eventually becomes a paid client).
And so on. And so on. You can basically create a sales process to work for you like a personal assistant without you needing to be around to do it all alone. CRM can track email opens/views, auto send messages, and more! You can set up the process you want your clients to go through, craft the emails you'd like to send at times you specify, and beyond. It’s automation heaven. I use Hubspot's CRM. This is what you'll see before setting things up:
People who seem to have it all together and who are making the coins aren't doing it all alone. Trust me, they automate like nobody's business. This is called working smarter, not harder. Note that getting into automation doesn't mean you're replacing it building a true client relationship - it just helps elevate that trust.
CREATE TEMPLATES FOR IT ALL
The greatest thing you can do to save yourself time and more time is to create templates. Why do you need it? Templates are life-savers when it comes to preparing documents. For my contracts, invoices, blog post images, and even social media - there are templates put in place where I can just plug and play. You can create your text copy for your email templates and if you desire, even the layout if you choose to have your contracts and invoices be cohesive with your businesses brand style and colors.
During your client onboarding process, having templates will do wonders for you. As mentioned previously about auto-response email, you can create templates to respond to your potential clients that give them the necessary information they need to truly get to know more about you and if they'd even want to still work with you. It's a great way to weed out anyone who isn't an ideal fit for you anyway because they would just avoid you. A few things you can create templates for to be more effective during your onboarding process:
Imagine how more efficient your intake process would be if you didn't have to worry about starting over every single time you receive a new client or customer. Not to mention, those wanting to work with you will definitely take notice of how organized you are - this too shall build trust.
I can vouch for having a "system" in place and creating a method that is both simple and to the point but that also makes the money! Mind you - I just got my business systems to a point where it all takes a lot more stress off of me! Hop on the bandwagon! How do you plan to simplify your client or customer onboarding processes in the future?