Gap Selling Book Summary - Gap Selling Book explained in key points
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Gap Selling summary


Getting the Customer to Yes: How Problem-Centric Selling Increases Sales by Changing Everything You Know About Relationships, Overcoming Objections, Closing and Price

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    Gap Selling
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    Selling with substance

    Picture this. You work in the sales department of a supplier that sells plumbing supplies to contractors in your region. You contact a contractor who approaches you saying he needs 1000 feet of new metal piping for an upcoming job retrofitting pipes in an older high rise building.

    You jump right to asking questions to qualify budget and authority. So far, so good. You launch into a slick pitch on your piping products, touting features and benefits. Then what? You'd pull out spec sheets with pressure tolerances and chemical resistance data, confident this thorough information dump will clinch the sale.

    But despite all the specs, the contractor seems indifferent. The information isn't resonating. You hammer him with a high-pressure closing technique like "If you need new piping that meets these specs, why not go with my brand you can trust?" But you can sense his hesitation.

    The deal falls apart. 

    What happened? You did everything "right" according to old-school selling theory. But you totally missed the customer's real problems.

    The old playbook of the past – promoting features, building rapport, and pressing for closes — no longer works. Today's buyers have endless access to product information and can see through sales tactics. Your slick pitch now falls on deaf ears.

    To succeed today, you need to embrace a completely new approach – gap selling. This method focuses on deeply understanding your buyer's problems first, then demonstrating how you can bridge the gaps to a solution. 

    The first and most critical step in gap selling is diagnosing your buyer's current state. This means diving deep into the true problems they face day-to-day. Many sales reps make the mistake of taking the buyer's stated needs at face value. But you can only create real value by digging beneath the surface issues to uncover your buyer's core strategic problems.

    Let’s look at our plumbing supplier example once again and how you might use a gap selling approach. Instead of jumping straight into product features, you begin the call by asking probing questions about the contractor's current problems and goals. Why are they replacing the pipes in this building? What issues have they faced with the existing pipes? How will new pipes improve things?

    In asking these questions, you discover the 50 year old building has galvanized steel pipes that corrode easily, leading to leaks and rusty water. This requires costly repairs and hurts tenants. This in turn creates problems for the contractors down the road, who face problems of reputation and liability. The contractor wants to head off these problems by using pipes that won't corrode from the city's acidic water.

    Now the problem is clear. Your polymer-coated pipes resist corrosion much better than unprotected metal pipes. You share relevant case studies and pipe life comparison charts and you show that your pipes are superior. But the core value is clear – your pipes directly address the corrosion issues.

    By taking time to uncover the real problem instead of launching into a product pitch, you can tailor your solution and clearly demonstrate how it closes the customer's gaps. The contractor is now fully engaged in how your product alleviates their pain points, and you close the sale.

    This is the power of gap selling. The sale happens naturally once you close the customer's gaps.

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    What is Gap Selling about?

    Gap Selling (2019) challenges traditional sales techniques that have frustrated generations of salespeople. Dispensing with platitudes, it advocates techniques that create value and establish influence throughout the sales process. Liberating salespeople from the role of order-takers beholden to capricious buyers, it provides a bold new framework for sales success in the modern era. 

    Who should read Gap Selling?

    • Sales professionals looking to improve their skills and effectiveness
    • Business owners wanting to increase sales and revenue
    • Anyone in a client-facing role aiming to build trust and relationships

    About the Author

    Keenan is the CEO of A Sales Guy Inc. and author of the bestselling Not Taught. Named one of the top social sellers by Forbes and a Top 50 sales influencer by Top Sales World Magazine, Keenan's insights on modern sales success have been featured in Harvard Business Journal, Huffington Post, and Inc. 

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