Day 30: Working on my client intake system.

Okay, here is a problem I'm trying to solve:

A new prospect sends me into a very, very confusing decision tree, pictured above. That's pretty unfortunate because new prospects > clients > money.

I want a client intake process that is as elegant and functional as the sites I build. Okay, maybe even a little MORE elegant and functional.

I've tried to build this process a few times. I tend to start with whatever is in front of me. A potential client wants to talk about starting a project? I need to send them a questionnaire. So I create a questionnaire and send it to them and feel very clever about how I'll send that questionnaire to the next person.

But then it comes back to me and I don't actually know what I need to know to move forward. So the next time I have a potential client contact me, I spend 30 minutes editing the questionnaire to fix what was wrong with it last time.

At some point, you'd think the questionnaire would be done, but somehow it never is. Weird.

What I realized yesterday is that I need a system where my own judgment is as removed from the process as possible. I want to build the system based on an ideal situation: I don't desperately need work, my client pipeline is full and I'm in the enviable place of being choosy about clients. When my bank account is full, I can tell somebody no without flinching. "Sorry, I'm busy." "Sorry, it doesn't sound like a great fit." And the thing about saying no is that it's usually the best for both parties. I want to use THAT judgment all the time, even when I do need the work.

The thing is: This is not that hard of a problem. Lots and lots of people have solved it, but I personally struggle with it. I'm afraid and nervous of doing the wrong thing without my system, but I'm also afraid that my system won' I don't know why I'm afraid of that. In web development, which is basically just systems building, I have decent judgment, but in sales? Ha.

The other bonus to removing my own totally flawed judgment from the process is that someone else can take care of moving these prospects along. And if the system is as elegant and functional as I want it to be, no one will even feel sad that I'm not involved.

Anyway, this is what I'm thinking about right now. I hope in a month I can follow up with a "This is how I solved it" post.


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