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episode 29

The Pre-Client Journey

Your pre-client journey is a reflection of what it will be like to work with you and will lay the foundation for the trust and relationship your clients will have with you. Ultimately, you get to decide what is part of your process to turn prospects into clients, but by following a streamlined framework, you can save both yourself and your clients time and stress.

Today Sam & Karyn discuss the importance of establishing your pre-client journey and how to simplify this process for you and your clients.

Show Notes:

The pre-client journey supports both the client and the web designer or developer.
Reducing the effort it takes to work with you in order to prevent potential clients abandoning the sale before ever hopping on a discovery call.
Ways in which you might be overcomplicating your pre-client journey and creating barriers to booking clients.
What a simplified pre-client journey could look like for you.

Episode Transcript:

Karyn Paige, Sam Munoz

Sam Munoz 00:00
If you don’t know what a client has to do, in order to move through that process of becoming a prospect to becoming a paying client, that’s where we need to begin. Because your inability to know what the process is and not having a clear process will stop you at every turn, you won’t know how much to charge for something, it will take you a long time to send a proposal, you won’t feel confident on a discovery call. Like if you don’t know what your process is pre client during the project onboarding after the project all of it, it’s hard to show up confidently, right. So I know I said a lot of things there. So I want to dig into each of those a little bit more. But like, the very first thing is like, pause this podcast and write down what your pre client journey is. And if your pre client journey is like 10 blocks long, keep listening. Welcome to Making website magic where we empower women to step boldly into their web design businesses follow their intuition and claim the success they’re worthy of. I’m Sam Munoz.

Karyn Paige 01:06
And I’m Karen Page, where the Tech Wizards behind sanguineous consulting and the making website Magic School of Business. Were two women here to talk about what it actually takes to run a web design business that’s aligned with your vision.

Sam Munoz 01:19
Spoiler alert, it probably isn’t what you think it is ready to hear about everything from refining your business vision, networking with intention and creating a magical client experience.

Karyn Paige 01:29
Let’s do it.

Sam Munoz 01:35
Hello, Karen.

Karyn Paige 01:37
Hey, Sam, how is it going?

Sam Munoz 01:40
It’s going great. We’re giggly. I think we’re giggly today, which is an interesting energy to come into this episode with all about the pre client journey. I find this to be one of the most exciting times in a client journey, which is like before they become a client. So I think giggly positive energy is actually very warranted for what we’re discussing today.

Karyn Paige 02:02
Yes, excitement, anticipation.

Sam Munoz 02:05
Before we get into today’s episode, I just wanted to say first of all, thank you to everyone who has left a review about the podcast. As you know, it helps us reach other women, web designers and developers. We love all of the love notes we get in our DMS about the episode. So keep sending those if you need the links to our Instagrams, it’s all on the making website website that said, we would love for you to leave a review. If you haven’t yet and you’ve enjoyed the podcast, you’ve received value from it, please leave that review. Take a screenshot of it DM one of us and then we will send you something as special as our thank you and appreciation. Okay, Karen,

Karyn Paige 02:50
that warrant in a way who can I agree? Okay, sorry. I’m sorry. That’s a cue out of the moment. But no, no.

Sam Munoz 02:56
Okay. Okay. Okay, so let’s talk about the pre client journey. What it is, and of course, why it is an important topic for today. So what is the pre client journey? What do we mean by that?

Karyn Paige 03:10
Yeah. Okay. So the pre client journey is something that we’re all doing. Basically, as web designers, we just kind of like gave it a name to talk about this whole concept, right. So it’s the process that a prospective client goes through in order to become a client.

Sam Munoz 03:26
Exactly. It is truly that journey from that’s their transition their metamorphosis from prospective client to actual paying client. And the thing is, the reason that we’re talking about this is because it is often extremely over complicated, we are making it way harder than it needs to be to move someone from a prospect to an actual paying client. And the thing is, this is actually working against you in more ways than one. Obviously, if your pre client journey is too complicated, it might be impossible for you to actually book clients. So it’s affecting your wallet, and your business bank account. But also, it’s like a teaser for what it’s like to work with you. Right, I think of the pre client journey as just a little taste of the client experience that you will have when you’re actually a paying client. And so if your pre client journey is messy and complicated and involves a lot of effort on your clients part and is just like a draining process, naturally, they might expect that actually working with you is going to be the same experience. And I happen to believe that you should mirror what you do with your clients inside of the work that you do with the way that you interact with them on the regular and this is interesting. This is bringing up something for me but I hate that feeling of like, I’m only going to be kind to you and respect you and like create a great client experience for you. Once you actually pay me money. But before then you’re irrelevant. You’re you know, not important and I feel like that’s what ends up happening when our pre client journey is not Solid and like we have really good client centered things happening in it. What do you think about that? Karen?

Karyn Paige 05:05
Yes, yes, yes. 100%, all of that, right. So it truly is like a preview, right? And put yourself in, like, remember a time when you were investing in something, or trying to go on a trip, or trying to maybe like rent an apartment, or anything where it’s a long process? And there’s an investment, right? Have you ever had like a negative experience where like, Well, this was a mess, I was totally confused. I didn’t know what was coming next. Like I was waiting for a long period of time to hear back. I had questions and they weren’t answered like all of this stuff. That’s what we mean by like, maybe like centering your clients and thinking about that. But sometimes it can be difficult to do until you’re like, Oh, I know what you’re talking about now, right? Without getting too much into detail. There’s an experience that I had recently where I was ready to make a five figure investment in something that was really important to me. And I had negative experiences in the pre client journey, there was a lot of disconnect with like sales calls and communication via email and all this stuff. And so eventually, it was like, you know, if this is what it’s like, just to get into the thing that I’m interested in, like, just say, Get Booked, this is too much like I’ll take it somewhere else. And so that’s what we mean by over complicating the client journey. And so what we really want to talk about is like, why over complicating your pre client journey is working against you. And how like simplifying, it can actually increase your likelihood of booking more clients.

Sam Munoz 06:39
Yes, that’s the ultimate outcome is like making this more simple and streamlined and actually having a process and a plan for the journey that someone goes on from prospective client to actual paying client is going to be a huge service to your business. And I think we should think of this in like two ways. Let’s think of it in terms of how this nice pre client journey supports the client. And how a more simplified pre client journey actually supports the web designer or developer, you that’s listening, how this will actually help you in your business. So why don’t we start with the client? Since we love client centered things? How does a overcomplicated pre client journey actually hurt that client experience?

Karyn Paige 07:24
So first and foremost, we’re trying to get people to say yes to like, click that button, get on the calendar, sign the contract, pay the invoice, right? So if there are too many barriers to entry, like the barrier to entry is like way high and the hurdles really high for someone to actually say yes, if there’s too many hoops to jump through too many clicks that they need to take in order to just pick a date and pay for it. You know, that is step number one of over complicating it from like the clients point of view 100%. And listen to it from again, user experience, right? We’re web designers we know about like too many clicks, people will probably abandon the site. So it’s the same concept, like we want to reduce the amount of clicks required to get someone on the calendar and pay that invoice.

Sam Munoz 08:14
Right, reduce the effort, because again, your pre client journey is a reflection of what it is going to be like working with you. And if they feel like they are going to have to put in so much extra effort and do all these extra things. When you’re trying to position your service as like a white glove handed off to me like you don’t have to do a lot of work here. That’s why you’re paying me four or five figures to do this for you. If that experience is not reflective of how they will feel when they’re actually doing the work with you, then there’s going to be that disconnect. And also I feel like that ends up creating a lack of trust in what you are selling. Because it’s like you said that this was going to be like ease for for me, right? You said this was going to have all these amazing transformations. And just to like get the project scheduled. It’s been a lot of effort on my part. So this doesn’t feel like what you’re trying to actually sell me. And so I don’t know if I trust that. And you need people to trust you in order to say yes to you. Yes. So let’s talk about how that actually shows up from a client centered perspective, right? And like how, like how you are creating too high of a barrier to entry like so how that actually shows up. So I would say the biggest thing that we see is like, you want to work with a client, they got on a discovery call with you, they want a proposal. And in order to actually book the project, you have to send them like five emails, right? You send them an email with the invoice and an email with the contract and an email with the proposal and an email with this. And it’s like they get all this bombardment of stuff that they have to do. And in terms of this whole theory of like less clicks. I mean, that’s certainly not creating less clicks, right? That’s not like a nice client experience and a nice user experience. And so that again is like that. that whole like, I thought this was supposed to be easy. You said this was gonna be easy for me. And I’m not sure that that’s like really aligning. So that’s something that I think shows up a lot. Is that like over complicating things? Or like you have to go through all these hoops to like, book the call and yeah, that’s that’s one area that shows up and that’s hurting the client centered part of the pre client journey.

Karyn Paige 10:19
Right? So to put that another way, like you’re putting too much responsibility on your client to see this thing through. Yeah, yes, that’s what it means to be client centered. Like every email you send your client, you’re giving them one more responsibility to manage on their own, instead of you managing it for them and making it seamless and effortless.

Sam Munoz 10:39
Which is like what you’re telling them that what you are going to be doing for them is going to make their life effortless. So there there is that disconnect where it’s like, but you said it was going to be easy.

Karyn Paige 10:49
Yeah, it’s not easy, because now I have to figure out what which email I have to go back to after I read it once and thought about it and came back. And now I don’t know where the link is, because there’s five emails for me to choose from. That’s not client centered. Another way that you might be over complicating your pre client journey is making your intake form or like your discovery call form, way to details. And I will raise my hand because I have done this in the past, right? And limpid this picture. So someone lands on like your scheduler, right? embedded on your website, they are ready. They’re like, I want to book this complimentary call, I want to talk to this person. And then in order to confirm the date for the discovery call, pick the time all these things, there’s like a 20 question intake form. And you’re diving deep, like what are your goals for the future? What are your goals for your business? Walk me down your pre client journey? What is it take for somebody to work with you like, all this stuff? Are you ready to commit four to five hours of homework? These are questions that we used to be on my intake form. Hello. So this is not coming out of nowhere. And this is stuff that we’ve seen.

Sam Munoz 11:58
But also Karen, like that’s coming from advice, right? Oh, yeah. I mean, from the advice of like, you have to be like, so niche and so specific. And like, yes, kind of like I can see the merit and value of owning your space of working with a particular type of client have kind of like vetting people before they get on your calendar, I can see that. But also, my perspective has always been until I feel like I cannot take on more discovery calls. Or I have seen the evidence that I’m getting, like 50 people on my discovery call calendar, and none of them are qualified. Like, I want to make that easy, right? Like, I want you to tell me your name, your email address, if you have a website already. And just tell me about what you’re looking for in working together. Let’s keep it easy. We can talk about all those details on the call.

Karyn Paige 12:45
That was a huge lightbulb for me, because you’re right, I got that as advice. And that was advice from somebody who was bombarded with too many inquiries that were unsuitable. And so it was this idea of like, no, no do all of this vetting upfront. But let’s get back to the client centered piece. Your client is ready to book an appointment. And now you’re asking them to basically possibly take maybe 30 minutes to an hour to answer these questions very thoughtfully. They will abandon this mission and overcomplicated intake form, just to get on a discovery call is the equivalent of abandoning cart when somebody is shopping. That’s what it is. So is it more important for you to get the call on the calendar? And maybe that’s where you can uncover some of these answers to the questions? Or is it more important for you to have the client do all of this work upfront and maybe risk them like just bouncing off the site?

Sam Munoz 13:45
Right, and you can go back to episode four, I believe is about discovery calls, right? And in that episode, we talked about how even discovery calls that don’t pan out, even if they’re not the right fit. Like all of these things. Getting on those calls, and practicing your process of doing discovery calls is extremely valuable. So if you’re looking at your inquiries, right, and you’re like, I’m not receiving like 10 a day, 10 a week, you probably can adjust things to make it simpler for your clients period. Let’s think about the other side of this, which is the designer over complicating the designer or developer over complicating the pre client journey and how that affects us. And I want to start first by asking our listeners to stop and think what is your pre client journey? Do you know what your pre client journey is? Because that’s step one. If you don’t know what a client has to do in order to move through that process of becoming a prospect to becoming a paying client, that’s where we need to begin because your inability to know what the process is and not having a clear process will stop you at every turn. You won’t know how much to charge for something. It will take you a long time to send a proposal You won’t feel confident on a discovery call. Like, if you don’t know what your process is pre client during the project onboarding after the project all of it, it’s hard to show up confidently, right. So I know I said a lot of things there. So I want to dig into each of those a little bit more. But like, the very first thing is like, pause this podcast, and write down what your pre client journey is. And if you have a blank sheet of paper, keep listening. And if your pre client journey is like 10, blocks long, keep listening.

Karyn Paige 15:32
So again, your pre client journey is part of your process, right? It’s part of what it’s like working with you. So we’ve talked about this, in the episode improve your process to like, make more money, right. So this is part of that. And so I think a piece that is often overlooked is, if you’re not spending time thinking about how long it takes you to complete a project, or how much you charge for certain offer package, right. So those things are unclear to you, you will be less effective at communicating them on things like the discovery call, you’ll be less effective on communicating them in the proposal, it might take you a long time to create a proposal, because you’re still working out these details for yourself. And maybe things are coming up where you’re like, I don’t know what’s happening, I’m totally just winging it. Because my project process, my pricing is very unclear to me, right. So the end result of all of that is that it takes longer than necessary for you to actually send the proposal and the contract and the invoice to a client. And what’s happening there is the clients going from like a hot ready to click the button lead, they’re cooling off, they’re cooling off, they’re cooling off, it’s delaying their buying decision, right. And so that’s not to say that, you can’t take the time that you need to craft a custom proposal, if the type of work that you do is like very specific to each client. But what it is saying is like, you could probably be moving the journey along, instead of walking, now we’re using a bicycle or we’re using an electric vehicle we’re getting there faster,

Sam Munoz 17:09
yes, and more like efficiently. And just with clarity over what is supposed to happen next in your own process. And the thing about all of this and the idea of the process and everything, it all connects to to like your availability and your ability to like do work for people, because I like to think about it like we do book projects, right? We book projects, we have the time where we’re actually like doing the work, right writing the code, building the website, doing the mockups, all of these things, but there’s so many other levels to what we’re doing. Because we are not just employees at a, you know, web development company, let’s say we are the person that is actually in charge of the entire experience. And so there has to be time in your calendar dedicated to things like the pre client journey, and how you know how much time to put on your calendar for that if you don’t know what your process is, if you don’t know how long it will take you to do all of these things. And so I do think that that’s another level to this to where it’s like your lack of clarity. Yes, it’s slowing things down. It’s making you less efficient. It’s pulling down your confidence in your ability to answer questions from your clients. And it overall, it’s just dominating your calendar without allowing you to like take the reins and take control of the process and show a prospective client like I know what I’m doing. You will feel like you are my top priority when you’re working with me because when I am pulling you through the Kree client journey, you are my top priority like just that feeling right? Definitely important.

Karyn Paige 18:39
All of that that we just talked about feels so heavy and like is filling me with like so much anxiety. And here, here’s where I’m going to have a sentence that ends in bebb, too much pressure on yourself that like, it doesn’t have to be that hard. It doesn’t have to be that frustrating. It can be simple for you and for your clients. Right? So all those things that we talked about earlier, is going to make you feel very afraid, maybe frustrated, and maybe not even want to participate in your own pre client journey for clients. Because it’s like, all this pressure. I don’t I can’t answer the questions because I don’t know the answers.

Sam Munoz 19:18
Oh, procrastinating making the proposal. Yes, the

Karyn Paige 19:21
procrastination because you’re like, I it’s not perfect. I don’t know what to put in it.

Sam Munoz 19:25
I don’t know how to price this. So I’m gonna wait two weeks to send it. Yeah, like,

Karyn Paige 19:30
you don’t need to feel that way. You don’t need to go through those things. You don’t need to put yourself through those things.

Sam Munoz 19:34
So I think that what might be helpful is to talk about what a simplified pre client journey could look like. And again, this is a could not a should, right, you get to decide what makes the most sense for you. You get to decide what tech you use to make this happen. You get to decide if you want more or less in your pre client journey, but we can give you an example of what one could look like. And yeah, so first thing as a part of a pre client Journey is how does the client come to you in the first place? Right? This might be through something like networking, or through a referral. So how do they get there? How do they even come into? You know, being an inquiring client? The next thing might be? How do they inquire with you? Right? Is it that they fill out an inquiry form on your website? Is it that they book a discovery call? How do they take that step to say, Hey, hi, they raise their hand and say, Hi, I would like to work with you. And then after that, maybe, maybe your next step is great. We got on the Discovery call, I got consent to send a proposal, they said, Yes, I would like to work with you. And I’d like to know how much that’s going to cost, what the timelines are what that looks like. And then your last step in that pre client journey could just be sending the proposal contract and invoice in a single email. Like that’s it. So networking or referral, however, they come to you some sort of inquiry process discovery call or a forum or something like that, and then sending the proposal contract and invoice. Now there might be one last layer to this, right, which is the follow up, which we need an entire episode on the follow up on the podcast, because the follow up is key. But that is a part of the pre client journey, right? But those three steps, can you commit to those three steps in making it super, super simple.

Karyn Paige 21:09
So again, it’s like, we probably already have these components in place in some way. So if you don’t, this is an invitation for you to get that going. And if you do, this is an invitation for you to take a look at it, and see if there are any areas where you can simplify it. And so let’s also point out that sometimes in simplifying a process, it means investing or paying for something that allows you to make things simpler, right? We talked about this on the investing in your business episode. And it feels like I went into great detail about not wanting to invest in something like HoneyBook or dubsado. So the alternative was all the free things, which were like resulting in five emails and all of that, et cetera, et cetera. Right? So it’s again, it’s like sometimes investing in something is what makes it simpler.

Sam Munoz 22:00
Right? And if you knew that by investing in, let’s say, $25, a month for dubsado, or whatever it is, would result in you more efficiently and effectively booking clients because your pre client journey is so simple for them. Yes, that is a meaningful and worthwhile investment. Right. In that episode. I remember we talked about kind of like litmus tests for figuring out if an investment makes sense for you. And that was definitely one right. Like, will this investment helped me make money? And may make the processes more efficient? If the answer is yes, that’s probably a good one to invest in. And so I certainly think something that takes that whole like proposal, contract invoicing thing and wraps it all up into one unit, or an email or whatever, to simplify your pre client journey. That might be something worth looking into if you haven’t considered that yet. Yeah.

Karyn Paige 22:46
And then also, from a client centered perspective, if I invest in this, will it make it easier for my client to say yes? And will it reduce confusion? Will my client be less confused? In this process?

Sam Munoz 23:00
Love that. Yes. Which is one huge goal of the pre client journey is to make it easy for the client, mitigate confusion, and make the Yes, really just a matter of them making the decision for themselves and less a matter of what is this experience going to be like? And like, you know, steering them away from that. And now I did want to say that in our six month mentorship, the making website Magic School of Business, we actually talk about all of this stuff in like a lot of detail. Granular like tactical things, right. So we talked about things like okay, that tech stack, you know, the dubsado, the HoneyBook, all of these different tech tools that you could be using Calendly. You know, whatever it is that you want to be utilizing from a tech perspective to make the pre client journey happen. And we talked about a ton of other things in the mentorship in great detail around the pre client journey. So this is kind of a taste of why it’s important and how you can start simplifying for yourself. But if you’re struggling with things like pricing, and proposals and making it really easy for a client to understand what happens in their process, if you don’t know how to create your availability schedule, and if you don’t feel confident about your process, so you don’t know how to answer questions on a discovery call, I definitely recommend you consider looking into the mentorship for more depth in that department.

Karyn Paige 24:24
Inside the mentorship. One of my favorite things to do is take a look at someone’s proposals. Take a look at someone’s intake form for a discovery call. Take a look at your pricing from the perspective of a client who’s never seen this document before never seen these details and say, Okay, this piece right here could totally be simplified because it wouldn’t be clear to a client or like just having that extra set of eyes to look at it from a different perspective which when you’re working on your business by yourself can be really difficult to see where some of the gaps are or see where areas can be refined, where confusion can be minimized, right? So that’s something that we do inside of the mentorship with each individual person and what their pre client journey requires.

Sam Munoz 25:13
Right? I love doing that and like looking so in depth and individualized, because again, I think that’s something we’ve said throughout this episode, and is definitely like a hallmark of our podcast is we are all running unique businesses. So what works for one person might not work for someone else. But there’s a general framework that kind of makes logistical sense in terms of like, there is some journey that your client has to go through to become a client. Now you get to decide what’s a part of that. Maybe through this episode, you’ve realized I should probably make that simpler, but you can decide you know, if you want to do something fun and crazy, and like you get to build the universe around the business that you are crafting, right, we don’t get to tell you that like you don’t get to have that intake form that asks that silly question about what they like on their tacos, like you get to decide those things. And that’s the beauty of it. And I hope that in today’s episode, we simply showed you that the pre client journey is valuable to consider and also valuable to simplify.

Karyn Paige 26:18
And also, asking somebody what they want on their tacos is never a silly question.

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