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Briefly, if you will…

Feb 26 · 5 Min Read

What exactly is a brief?

I recently wrote an article all about pitching. Pitching comes in many different forms but one of the most common and the most important is directly to a potential client. In Pitch Perfect, I mention the importance of taking a full brief from a client before you ever try to sell anything but what does this mean?

A brief reflects its name. You are taking a short snapshot of a business in its past and present state whilst finding out what direction the stakeholders would like the business to go in the future.

Why should we take a brief?

Often, as a supplier of a product or a service, we are asked to supply a solution to a client’s problems but how are we supposed to do that if we don’t know exactly what our client’s problems are? By understanding the intricacies that hold a business together, we can start to understand the problems that might eventually tear a business apart.


How should we take a brief?

I am regularly sent a brief by email. This can give me a basis for my enquiries but it is not enough for me to make sure I am truly helping my client. I need to speak to my client, I need to ask them the right questions, to truly listen and only once I have enough information, should I take any action. This can be done over the phone but preferably, it should be done face to face or at least by video conference. It gives you a better chance to read your customer and allows them the opportunity to see you, which often helps to build an extra layer of trust.

What questions should we ask?

There are many things that you can ask in a brief but the most important are as follows…

Who are your customers? (Never accept an answer of everyone)

  • What is their typical age?
  • What is their typical income?
  • Are they mainly males or females?
  • Do they live in the countryside or in the city?
  • Are they going on holiday next week, month or year?
  • Where do they live? Not just geographically but socially.
  • Do they have one head or 2? (I’ve never asked this one but feel free)
  • What do you want your customers to do? (Eventually buy of course)

  • Be specific
  • Do you want them to…
    1. Phone you?
    2. Attend an event?
    3. Check out your website?
    4. Find you on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?

    Why would your customers do that? Unique Selling Point (USP)

  • This question is so important…
    1. What makes you unique?
    2. Why would I (the 20 year old, well off female with two heads) buy from you?
    3. Are you doing anything different today in comparison to yesterday
  • “We have free parking” or “we have been in business for 20 years” are not good enough.
  • The USP has to truly be a USP, it can’t be something everyone else does.
  • Why do you need what I do to help you achieve what you do?

  • This probably shouldn’t actually be asked but it is something you should be thinking about the whole time. As you ask questions, drill down into any problems the business might have. Also ask about goals and objectives. A need isn’t always a problem, sometimes, it is a pot of gold.
  • Smiler

    What do I do with the brief?

    Once you have asked these questions, it is important to listen. By that, I don’t mean, make sounds that make it seem like you’re listening, I mean listen. If you take down notes, take on board what the customer is saying at every stage and constantly ask follow up questions, two things will happen.

  • You will build a relationship with your customer.
  • You will know whether or not your services are truly a match for the customer’s needs.
  • What do I mean by truly a match for the customer’s needs?

    Well I hate to break it you but your product / service is not right for everybody and even if it is, it might not be the right time for a business to buy. The thing is a “good” salesperson could probably still sell to your prospective client but what would that mean for them and for you?

    Firstly, they’d be buying something that has no real use or at least is not as useful as something else would have been for them. Secondly, they’d eventually realise this and they’d also probably work out that you must have known before you sold it to them. Thirdly, your relationship would break down, you’d never be able to sell to them again and if you kept up the same methods with other customers, your business would take a deep dive into a pretty dirty drain.

    If however, you don’t pitch anything and you inform them that actually now is not the time or maybe that they would be better looking at a different product, a few things could happen.

  • They might come back and buy from you at a different time when they do need what you’re selling or you have something different to offer.
  • They might tell other businesses about your products or services who will then trust you if you say they are in need of what you are offering.
  • They will almost certainly have the utmost respect for you and what you do.
  • You will be able to hold your head high knowing that you did what was right.
  • What if I do have what they need?

    Great! Pitching should now be easy. You have all of the tools and all of the information at hand. Depending on what you are selling and your style, you can pitch right away or come back later. Have a little read of Pitch Perfect to harness your skills and go get ‘em!

    Stefano Capacchione is a writer for Puck Creations. Puck Creations create content to make your clients think, feel and take action. Head to http://www.puckcreations.com/to find out more.

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