Publish June 11, 2024
STOP Sending Welcome Packets!

Understanding the Drawbacks of Welcome Packets

Many designers create beautiful and elaborate welcome packets meant to greet new clients after the contract is signed. While aesthetically pleasing, these packets often fall short in setting clear expectations and guidelines. The time to define how you’ll be working, project timelines, and communication methods isn’t after you’re hired; it’s before.

Excitement vs. Preparation: The Pitfall of Rushing the Process

As designers, receiving that initial call from a potential client is exhilarating. The temptation to jump right into the project can be overwhelming. However, rushing through the pre-qualification process often leads to problems later when misaligned expectations surface.

Pre-Qualifying Calls: Your First Line of Defense

One of the first steps in my onboarding process is setting up a pre-qualifying call. This initial conversation allows me to understand the client’s needs, expectations, and project scope. It also enables me to do some background research, such as looking up property values on Zillow, so I can be better informed before our call.

Get to Know Your Referral Source

Most of my projects come through referrals. Hence, I reach out to the referral source before speaking with the client. This step provides invaluable insights into the client’s needs and expectations, helping me prepare for the pre-qualifying call.

The “Shock and Awe” Box: Setting Clear Expectations Early

Instead of relying on a welcome packet, I send a “shock and awe” box before our first in-person meeting. This box includes elements you might find in a traditional welcome packet but provides them much earlier in the process. It sets expectations around project timelines, communication methods, and even contract terms upfront.

Pre-Meet Documentation: A Path to Trust and Clarity

A vital part of the “shock and awe” box is a copy of my blank contract. This document allows potential clients to review terms and conditions before we’re deeply into discussions. This step reduces the chances of surprises or misunderstandings down the line, creating a smoother onboarding experience.

Enhancing Client Relationships

By providing this information ahead of time, you’re not only setting clear expectations but also building trust. Clients are more likely to feel comfortable and confident in their decision to hire you. It eliminates confusion and provides a roadmap for how you’ll work together, ensuring everyone starts on the same page.

The Role of Education in Pre-Qualification

Educating clients about your process is crucial, especially if it differs from what they’re accustomed to. Addressing these differences upfront helps avoid friction later on.

**When to Charge for Initial Consultations

Decide whether to charge for the initial consultation based on your business model. In my experience, I don’t charge for the first meeting. However, attaching a fee might help filter serious inquiries if a lot of prospects aren’t proceeding.

Fine-Tuning Your Pre-Qualification Protocol

Evaluating the effectiveness of your pre-qualification process is ongoing. Pay attention to how clients respond to the “shock and awe” box and adjust accordingly. This method will not only streamline the client onboarding process but also improve the quality of projects and client relationships.

Replacing your traditional welcome packet with a well-timed “shock and awe” box can create a more transparent, efficient, and trust-filled onboarding process. This proactive approach helps set boundaries and expectations long before you’re officially hired, ensuring both you and your clients start off on the right foot.

If you want to learn more about setting up an effective pre-qualification process, join my upcoming free webinar, “Sales for Introverts.” Sign up through the link in my bio.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to rethink how we approach client onboarding. By shifting focus from post-hire welcome packets to pre-hire educational materials, you can set yourself and your clients up for success. Happy onboarding! Click here to listen to the full episode, and make sure to check out my other blog posts!