The gap selling method can be one of the most effective ways to upgrade and improve your sales process. Unlike other sales methodologies, this strategy involves learning all about your prospect’s current state, and their desired state so you cap “bridge the gap” with your product or service.
With this methodology, your sales team can more effectively build rapport with potential prospects, increase customer loyalty, and even enhance lifetime value.
Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the gap selling framework and how you can use it in your sales cycle.
The Gap Selling Method is a problem-centric sales strategy coined by Keenan, the author of the best-selling book “Gap Selling,” and the CEO of the “Sales Growth Company.” The concept of this methodology revolves around finding the space between where your prospect currently is, and their “ideal outcome”, so you can essentially fill the gap.
When you focus on diagnosing prospect problems rather than just trying to sell, you begin to build a stronger foundation for customer relationships. You can position yourself as a trusted advisor, capable of resolving your prospect’s problems and improving their life.
The strategy is similar in some ways to “solution selling”. However, while solution selling focuses on uncovering a prospect’s needs, the gap selling process is all about defining problems. You’ll spend more time on the discovery process, to identify the core pain point your customer needs to address.
The gap selling methodology revolves heavily around asking customers the right questions, to define five key “elements”, including:
There are various different types of sales questions professionals can use to gather information about their prospects current, and desired future state. In Keenan’s book, he identifies four specific question types that should be used when gathering information:
Probing questions involve using queries to prompt customers or prospects to share more insight into the problems they’re facing. Generally, these are open-ended questions, which ensure you can elicit responses beyond simply “Yes” or “No”.
For instance, you might say, “Can you tell me more about [problem]?” or “How is [Problem] currently influencing your business results?”
With process questions, you learn more about how prospects perform specific actions. This can help a sales rep uncover the root cause of operational or technical issues. Examples of process questions could include, “Can you help me understand how your company does [process]?” or “What happens before or after [process] in your business?”
For instance, if you’re selling communication software, you could ask, “How do your team members currently communicate and collaborate in the workplace?”
In sales, prospects don’t always fully understand the extent of their issues. They might recognize how a problem affects them, but not how it influences the performance of their company. Provoking questions are designed to get prospects thinking about the bigger picture.
For example, you might ask, “What impact does [problem] have on your team?” or “What might happen if [provoking insight]?” When you ask these questions to get your prospects looking at different perspectives, they’re more likely to view you as a trusted expert.
Finally, validating questions are a way to help confirm how you can solve the problem for your prospect, or drive them towards their ideal outcome. Questions like “It seems like [problem] is the main issue here, is that right?” ensure you’re on the same page.
They can also help you to understand more about the prospect’s decision criteria, and how you should position your sales pitch to increase your chances of a sale. Unlike probing questions, validating questions are often designed to elicit a “yes” or “no.”
A sales process where you “close the gap” for your prospect is relatively straightforward in theory. All you need to do is define your prospect’s current state, find out where they want to be, then bridge the gap. However, implementing the process can be more complex than it seems.
Here are some steps to get you on the right track.
The faster you can recognize your prospect’s potential problem, the easier it will be to present yourself as a trusted advisor. In Keenan’s book, he recommends creating a “problem identification chart” where you list all the problems your services or products can solve, along with their impact and root cause. Creating this chart will help you when you reach out to the prospect.
For instance, if you’re selling project management software, that software could help companies to align their teams, adhere to specific deadlines, and reduce the risk of unhappy clients. Brainstorm with your team to come up with a comprehensive list of the key problems you can solve.
Insight is crucial to the gap selling method. You need to understand everything there is to know about their current situation, their business processes, the types of challenges they’re facing, and how they’re currently addressing those issues.
When you’re gathering information, focus on getting your prospect to talk about themselves. Don’t bring up your products or services too quickly, as this could make you seem pushy. Remember to dive deep with your questions, to discover the impact of your prospect’s problems, and identify the root causes for any issues they might have.
The gap selling methodology is all about closing the gap between where your prospects are and where they want to be. This means you need to identify the “ideal outcome” for them if they choose to purchase something. Asking questions about the goals your prospect wants to achieve, or how they would measure success can help with this.
If your prospect tells you about a specific outcome they want to achieve, find out why they want to achieve that goal, and ask them to explain the impact it would have on their business overall.
In many sales methodologies, it’s important to think about the process your prospects go through before making a purchasing decision. Most people don’t invest in something on a whim, particularly in the B2B world. Defining your prospect’s decision criteria will help you to move them through the path to the sale as quickly as possible.
Ask them what they need to consider before they can make a purchase, and what the buying process for the company looks like. You could also query who they’ll need to talk to before finalizing a purchase, to ensure you’re talking to the right stakeholders.
Finally, once you know your prospect’s current state and where they want to be, it’s time to introduce how your product or service fills the gap. A demonstration of your product or solution, where you highlight the key features you can offer, and the benefits these features have, can be useful.
Consider using strategies to anchor your prospects. For instance, after introducing a feature, ask questions like, “Can you see how [feature] will help you to deal with [problem]?”
The Gap selling method is a question-heavy and problem-centric sales methodology. It involves investing in building rapport with your prospects, and learning as much as you can about their needs. While the process can take time, it can also be extremely powerful.
Using the gap selling method can help you to increase your value in the eyes of your customers, and improve your chances of making a sale.
To learn more about gap selling, and other sales methodologies, join the sales community at the Hard Skill Exchange today!
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