What’s the secret to success in sales and relationship management? Consider these bits of wisdoms:
“Seek first to understand” (Stephen Covey)
“You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, and that may be the right proportion to use them” (ancient proverb)
“You can make more friends in 2 months by taking an interest in others than you can in 2 years trying to get others to take an interest in you” (Dale Carnegie)
“Listening is the key to my success. I’ve never learned anything by talking” (Lou Holtz)
Apparently it’s no secret at all. We all understand that superior sales and relationship management hinges on doing effective research, and doing effective research hinges on putting the customer first. We need to ask questions, listen effectively, take good notes, and interpret what we learn. This requires a combination of art and science. Art is experience and skill, and science is process and tools. The IMPAX Process focuses on key elements of the research effort: gathering and utilizing data; obtaining information; determining the fit; developing coach relationships and networks; and conducting effective research meetings. You can read more about effective customer research in our book, Beyond Selling Value.
Together, art and science help us do efficient and effective research, which allows us to: determine the right solution, solution fit and business fit; identify the key players, the decision maker and the decision process; and optimize our chances for success. Without the right research we’re flying blind and very likely to end up flying right into the vendor trap.
As you proceed with this book, keep this IMPAX Maxim in mind: It’s not enough to understand your customer’s need. You have to understand your customer’s business.