There’s something I hate to admit because I know it scares the holy-heck out of bosses like you + they turn to run the other way while I’m blubbering, “but… but WAIT!”
Automating your systems won’t be easy or simple. (There, I said it!) There will be a learning curve. Puppies + rainbows are, in fact, sold separately.
Here’s something I DO like to admit, though :: I’m GLAD setting up your systems isn’t simple. The reality is that we are replacing YOU – no simple task, indeed! However, once it’s done, you have something in place designed to save time, money, energy, focus + probably grey hairs, too!
The rookie mistake I see bosses make (like, ALL the time!) is getting mega-starry-eyed about what OTHER PEOPLE ARE SAYING about a specific platform. They get turned on by the FEATURES LIST + the only thing sexier than that?… is the software’s uber-attractive FREE TRIAL period – meeee-ow!
Meanwhile… a lot of bosses don’t even need all of that tech a CRM delivers!
I am a firm believer that if you’re already using something that works for you, IT’S BEST TO CREATE A SYSTEM AROUND THE TECHNOLOGY YOU ALREADY KNOW + LOVE instead of trying to find something else.
Clearly, it already works for you! Let’s set it up to work harder, is all.
(This is going to be especially true if you’re already working happily-ever-after with a project management tool such as Trello or Asana.)
WANNA SEE THE STEP-BY-STEP FOR AUTOMATING YOUR CLIENT MANAGEMENT + ONBOARDING?
Let’s say that you have your project management down. You track client files, tasks + deliverables for all of your clients using a platform like Asana or with a Trello board like this one (feel free to copy this!). Maybe you even do this using a collaboration tool like Slack.
However you slice it, you have the project work + client collaboration of your services covered. You’re just looking to streamline the onboarding process.
This means your pre–project workflow could look something like this ::
Want the TL;DR video to show you how the magic happens? Scroll down.
For the readers, here’s the step-by-step description as to how it all goes down ::
CREATE YOUR LEAD CAPTURE FORM USING AN AUTO-RESPONDER
You will want to embed a form on your website or social media that people can fill in to sign up for your services. Chances are that you already use an EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE like ConvertKit/Seva, MailChimp, Mailerlite, etc. – something you use to collect email addresses, share newsletters + generally promote to.
1) Start by CREATING A NEW LIST. Use this list to sign people up to your services.
2) CREATE A FORM for these people to fill out that you will use to capture your leads.
3) If you don’t use a double opt-in (whereby people confirm that they agree to receive correspondence from you), your confirmation email can be replaced with an intro kit or welcome package, as well as a booking link.
HOWEVER! Chances are that you do use a double opt-in. In this case, you will CREATE A SEQUENCE OR AUTOMATION that will trigger as soon as someone has confirmed they’ve confirmed they are opting into your list. Your first email in this trigger will contain your intro kit or welcome package.
Alternatively, you may want to include the payment link first but of course, this would depend on the nature of your services. (i.e. if you needed a consult call to assess the scope + provide a proposal versus your offer being a standardized package/offer)
USE A BOOKING/SCHEDULING TOOL
If you’re not already using a tool that will allow people to have ACCESS YOUR AVAILABILITY + BOOK A TIME TO TALK with you (minus all the back-and-forth emailing you otherwise would have to go through), this is one of those “go to have” tools for anyone dealing with clients.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll tell you to sign up for Calendly ( although you will find a list of free tools I recommend + why you may opt to choose one over the other here). You can easily SET PARAMETERS AROUND WHAT TIMES YOU WILL SEE CLIENTS. Calendly also CONNECTS TO YOUR GOOGLE CALENDAR to ensure that the engagements from the calendar don’t conflict with how availability is shown. It is EASY TO EMBED into the aforementioned auto-responder so that even the least-tech-savvy client will “get” how they can book their time with you.
This + most other software is also set up to automatically send email reminders of the appointment 24 hours prior to the appointment. Let’s hear it for one less thing for you to think of setting up!
CONNECT YOUR CONTRACT/INVOICING SOFTWARE
You actually have 3 options here ::
1) You can use INVOICING SOFTWARE (like FreshBooks, Wave or Xero) where you can integrate Terms and Conditions that clients will agree to.
NOTE :: If you decide to replace the text from the Terms and Conditions to reflect your contract + then have clients tick a box saying they agree to these, please do confirm with a legal professional that this agreement will still be legally binding if they check a box instead of signing a document; or
2) You can use CONTRACTING SOFTWARE (like andCo – which is also FREE but other paid products like DocuSign, HelloSign, etc. can provide more control + customization) where you can integrate your payments there; or
3) You can also roll out with PROPOSAL SOFTWARE (like BetterProposal or Proposify) which may be the best option to the bosses for whom esthetic is a big part of why people buy from them.
I personally prefer the last 2 options because not only is it a little more formal with the SIGNATURE REQUIREMENT, but it also ensures that YOUR CLIENT WILL ACTUALLY READ the damned thing. After all, you WANT clients to know, read + acknowledge what is expected of them during this project + you want them to know what you both are committing to! And let’s be honest… when was the last time YOU read the Terms and Conditions to the box you checked, hmmmm?
WRITE + CAN YOUR CLIENT COMMUNICATION
You’re saying the same thing over + over again. That doesn’t mean you should be writing the same emails over + over again, especially when you can easily create canned emails. Canned emails are basically templates that are saved for easy use within your inbox + I have a whole post dedicated to how you can do that here.
If you have a lot of emails involved with the onboarding process, you may hesitate to keep it all in your inbox. Totally understandable… but that still doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a whole new system.
You could integrate Streak for Gmail to track the status of your leads, clients + follow-ups. You can watch a tutorial here but as you can see from the image below, you easily create a flow that makes it easy to identify what correspondence goes out when.
P.S. If +/or when you decide to outsource your inbox, this makes it insanely easy for a new hire to not only understand your process, but to also take care of this on your behalf (in your words!).
“WHAT ABOUT DUE DATES + REMINDERS?”
Good question! You CAN set up those reminders up to happen automatically using Zapier. For the uninitiated, Zapier is an AUTOMATION TOOL that connects platforms + allows them to communicate to each other (so you don’t have to!).
In this case, Zapier will create a reminder to follow up set for 2 days later after a lead capture form has been completed.
To do this, your command would look something like this ::
Prefer to see how it all comes together?
Not to sound like your dad but just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to (ugh, daaaaaad!). While a platform may work for one person, that doesn’t mean you have to completely overhaul THE WAY YOU LIKE TO OPERATE to sit with the cool kids.