A traditionally low-performing sales tactic often results in low profits for businesses. Reports show that the average conversation-to-appointment rate for a SaaS business is a mere 23%. However, there is a way to not just improve these numbers but to revolutionise your entire sales process. Introducing the GAP Selling methodology.
This methodology has proven to be effective in various sectors, from SaaS to B2B enterprises. It has been recognized for its ability to shorten sales cycles, improve close rates, and build lasting relationships. In this guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of GAP Selling. We'll examine its pros and cons, and how it compares to other popular sales methodologies. Let's begin.
What Is the GAP Selling Methodology?
GAP Selling is a groundbreaking sales methodology that stands out for its focus on the "GAP" between a customer's current state and their desired future state. Developed by sales expert Keenan, this approach is fundamentally problem-centric, aiming to understand the full scope of the customer's problem before offering a solution.
The Crucial Role of GAP Selling in the Discovery Stage
The discovery stage is a pivotal part of any sales process. It's the phase where sales reps gather information about the prospect to understand their needs, challenges, and goals. Traditional discovery methods often involve a series of questions that may or may not get to the heart of the customer's problem. This is where GAP Selling shines.
In GAP Selling, the discovery stage is not just a preliminary step but the foundation upon which the entire sales process is built. Sales reps employ a variety of questioning techniques to understand the customer's current state. They assess the pain points, challenges, and any obstacles that are preventing the customer from reaching their desired future state.
By focusing on the "GAP," sales reps can tailor their solutions more precisely, ensuring that they are solving the real issues at hand rather than offering a one-size-fits-all product or service.
What Sets GAP Selling Methodology Apart?
While most sales methodologies emphasise the features and benefits of the product or service being sold, GAP Selling takes a different route. It zeroes in on the "GAP" between where the customer is now and where they want to be.
The Three States in GAP Selling
To understand the uniqueness of GAP Selling, it's crucial to understand its three core states:
1. The Current State
The current state is the starting point in the GAP Selling process. It's a comprehensive understanding of the customer's existing situation, including their challenges, pain points, and limitations. Sales reps use probing questions to uncover these details, aiming to get a 360-degree view of the customer's current reality.
2. The Future State
Once the current state is clearly defined, the focus shifts to the future state, which is the customer's goals, aspirations, and the ideal scenario they wish to achieve. This is where sales reps use provoking and validating questions to help customers articulate their vision for the future.
3. The GAP
As Keenan, the developer of the GAP methodology said “The GAP is the space where we turn problems into opportunities." It's where problems are solved, needs are met, and value is delivered.
The GAP is the distance between the current state and the future state. It's the core of the GAP Selling methodology and the area where sales reps can add the most value. By understanding the GAP, sales reps can tailor their solutions to bridge this divide, offering products or services that directly address the customer's unique challenges and goals.
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What are the Pros and Cons of the GAP Selling Methodology?
The GAP methodology has been praised for its customer-centric approach and problem-solving capabilities. However, it's essential to weigh its benefits against the potential drawbacks to determine if it's the right fit for your sales team.
Pros of GAP Selling
Let's take a closer look at the key benefits of adopting GAP Selling.
1. Improved Customer Relationships
One of the most significant advantages of GAP Selling is the strong, lasting relationships it helps build with customers. By focusing on the customer's unique challenges and aspirations, sales reps can offer tailored solutions that genuinely add value, thereby fostering trust and long-term loyalty.
2. Shorter Sales Cycles
GAP Selling often leads to shorter sales cycles. By identifying the customer's current state and future state early in the sales process, sales reps can quickly offer targeted solutions, speeding up the decision-making process.
3. Higher Close Rates
The problem-centric approach of GAP Selling allows sales reps to offer solutions that directly address the customer's needs, leading to higher close rates. When customers see that a product or service can bridge the GAP between their current and future states, they are more likely to make a purchase.
4. Increased Predictability
GAP Selling provides a structured framework for the sales process, making it easier to forecast sales outcomes. By understanding the GAP, sales reps can more accurately predict whether a prospect will convert, improving overall sales planning and strategy.
Cons of GAP Selling
While GAP Selling offers numerous advantages, it's important to acknowledge that no methodology is without its drawbacks.
One of the main drawbacks of GAP Selling is that it can be time-consuming, especially during the discovery stage. Sales reps need to invest time in understanding the customer's current state, future state, and GAP, which may prolong the sales cycle in some cases.
2. Requires Skillful Implementation
GAP Selling is not a plug-and-play methodology; it requires skillful implementation. Sales reps need to be trained in asking the right questions and interpreting the answers to understand the GAP effectively. This may require a significant investment in training and development.
3. Not Suitable for All Sales Environments
GAP Selling is highly effective in complex B2B sales environments but may not be suitable for transactional or retail sales where quick decisions are often the norm.
4. Handling Objections
While GAP Selling is effective, sales reps may still encounter objections. To understand and overcome them, check out How to Handle Sales Objections.
5. If not conducted properly, the Discovery Phase might offer a subpar buyer experience
Research reveals that in more than 50% of cases no product is shown to the clients, frequently making those sessions feel like an interrogation to the buyer, leaving them dissatisfied.
How to Implement GAP Selling Methodology?
GAP Selling goes beyond sales techniques, it is a comprehensive approach that aims to bridge the "GAP" between a customer's current situation and their desired future state. Here’s how to implement this methodology:
Step 1: Create a Problem Identification Chart
The first step in implementing GAP Selling is to create a Problem Identification Chart. This chart serves as a visual representation of the customer's current state, outlining their challenges, pain points, and limitations. Sales reps can use this chart to categorise and prioritise the problems they identify during the discovery stage. This tool is invaluable for ensuring that the entire sales team has a clear understanding of what issues the customer is facing and what solutions might be most effective.
Step 2: Gather Data About Your Prospects and Their Problems
Data gathering is crucial in GAP Selling. Sales reps should collect information from various sources, including customer interviews, surveys, and market research, to get a comprehensive understanding of the prospect's current state. This data should be analysed to identify common themes or recurring problems that your product or service can address. The more detailed and accurate the data, the better equipped you'll be to offer a tailored solution.
Step 3: Find the Impact of Your Prospect's Problems
Understanding the impact of the prospect's problems is a critical aspect of GAP Selling. Sales reps should ask probing questions to determine how these challenges are affecting the customer's business or life. Are they losing revenue? Is employee productivity suffering? By understanding the impact, you can better articulate the value proposition of your solution, making it more compelling for the customer.
Step 4: Understand the Future State of Your Prospect
Once you have a clear understanding of the current state and its impact, the next step is to explore the prospect's future state. What are their goals, aspirations, and desired outcomes? Sales reps should use provoking and validating questions to help the customer articulate their vision for the future. This future state serves as the target that your solution aims to help them achieve.
Step 5: Assess the Decision-Making Criteria
Understanding the customer's decision-making criteria is essential for tailoring your sales pitch. What factors will influence their decision to purchase? Is it cost, quality, or speed of implementation? By knowing what criteria the customer will use to evaluate solutions, you can better position your product or service to meet those specific needs.
Step 6: Fill the GAP
The final step in the GAP Selling methodology is to "fill the GAP" between the customer's current state and future state. This involves presenting your solution in a way that clearly shows how it addresses the customer's unique challenges and helps them achieve their desired outcomes. Sales reps should use data and insights gathered during the earlier stages to tailor their pitch, making it as relevant and compelling as possible.
4 Types of GAP Selling Questions in the Discovery Phase
In the words of Keenan, the founder of GAP methodology, "Discovery is less about asking customers what they want and more about understanding what they truly need."
It is the core of the GAP Selling methodology where sales reps gather crucial information about the prospect's current state, future state, and the GAP between them. To do this effectively, GAP Selling employs four types of questions:
Probing questions are designed to gather information about the prospect's current state. These questions aim to uncover the challenges, pain points, and limitations that the prospect is facing. They are generally open-ended questions that encourage the prospect to share details.
"Can you describe the main challenges you're currently facing in your role?"
"What obstacles are preventing you from reaching your quarterly goals?"
"How is your current solution falling short of your expectations?"
Provoking questions are used to stimulate thought and challenge the prospect's assumptions. These questions aim to help the prospect articulate their future state by making them think deeply about their goals, aspirations, and the ideal scenario they wish to achieve.
"If you could solve one business problem instantly, what would it be?"
"What would achieving [specific goal] mean for your company?"
"How would resolving [a particular issue] impact your team's productivity?"
Process questions focus on the steps and procedures that the prospect is currently following or plans to follow. These questions help sales reps understand the prospect's decision-making process, timelines, and any other procedural aspects that could influence the sale.
"What is your typical process for evaluating new solutions?"
"Who else is involved in the decision-making process?"
"What is your timeline for implementing a new solution?"
Validating questions are used to confirm the information gathered during the discovery phase. These questions help ensure that the sales rep has accurately understood the prospect's current state, future state, and the GAP between them. They are generally close-ended questions that require a yes/no answer or a brief confirmation.
"So, if I understand correctly, your main challenge is [specific issue], correct?"
"You mentioned that [specific goal] is a priority for you, is that right?"
"Are you looking to implement a solution within the next three months?"
Comparison: GAP vs. Other Selling Methodologies
Here's a table that compares GAP Selling with Challenger, Solution Selling, and MEDDPICC across various metrics:
How Demoboost Can Help in GAP Selling?
Demoboost is a product demo software designed to revolutionise the way sales teams engage with prospects and customers. Here’s how it can complement and enhance the GAP Selling methodology.
Interactive Demos for Probing Questions: Demoboost's interactive demos can be used as a tool during the discovery phase to ask probing questions. By walking the customer through different features and solutions, sales reps can better understand what the customer is looking for.
Real-Time Insights for Provoking Questions: The platform's real-time analytics can help sales reps ask provoking questions based on customer interactions with the demo, thereby uncovering hidden needs or challenges.
Automated Workflows for Consistency: Automated demo workflows ensure that the sales team is consistently focusing on bridging the GAP between the customer's current and future states, thereby aligning with the GAP Selling methodology.
Data-Driven Decisions: The analytics provided by Demoboost can help sales teams make data-driven decisions, speeding up the sales cycle, which is often a key objective in GAP Selling.
Enablement for Sales Reps: With features like session recordings and scripts, Demoboost can help sales reps prepare better for live demos, thereby improving their ability to close deals.
Wrapping It Up
From understanding your customers' current state to guiding them toward their desired future, GAP Selling works beautifully. But you could take it a step further with Demoboost. Imagine seamlessly moving from the discovery phase to presenting a hyper-personalised demo that perfectly bridges the GAP for your customers. That's the power of combining GAP Selling with Demoboost.
Book a demo to see how Demoboost elevates your GAP Selling strategy.