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GAP Selling – What is it and when to use it

Gap selling is a sales process where the buyer and seller collaborate to identify and close the gap between their wants and needs and their current state.

Gap selling is a sales process where the buyer and seller collaborate to identify and close the gap between their wants and needs and their current state.When does GAP selling work well?

As with all sales methodologies, GAP selling works best for specific situations. Examples of when it will work well include:

  • When the buyer is unaware of their needs or how to articulate them
  • When the seller has deep expertise in the buyer’s industry or area of need

Both of these scenarios play well to GAP as the seller can help the buyer uncover their needs and, using their knowledge of the industry, can act as a trusted advisor to help them discover how to close the gap.

How does GAP selling work?

The sales rep takes the buyer through four stages:

  • Needs assessment
  • Current state analysis
  • Future state visioning
  • Gap closing plan

In other words, the salesperson helps the buyer see they need to be solved, helps them understand where they are currently, where they need to get to, and builds a plan to help them close the gap.

Needs Assessment

The needs assessment stage uses discovery questions to get to the root of the prospect’s challenges.

GAP selling discovery questions include examples like these:

  • What are your business goals?
  • How will achieving these goals impact your bottom line?
  • What is your biggest challenge right now?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and have all of your needs met, what would that look like?
  • What is stopping you from getting there?

We know these are relatively common discovery questions, but the goal is to uncover business challenges first.

Current state analysis

At this step, the seller is seeking to learn, and help the buyer understand, the current state of their business.

GAP selling discovery questions like these can help uncover the current state:

  • How do you currently address this challenge? 
  • What processes or tools do you use?
  • What is your current success rate?
  • What happens if you don’t solve this problem?

Future state visioning

In the third stage of GAP selling, we help the buyer envision the perfect future state — where this problem is solved, and the pain caused by it is gone.

Good questions for this stage include:

  • If this problem were gone, what would that look like?
  • What processes or tools would you be using?
  • What would your success rate be?
  • How would this new solution impact your business goals?
  • How would this impact you personally?

GAP Closing Plan

We’re coming to the end of the four stages of the GAP sales methodology — the GAP closing plan.

If things have gone according to plan, the buyer and seller are aligned about the challenges, current state, and the ideal state; they just need the plan.

This is where the rep, with solid industry experience, can take on the consultative trusted advisor role and map out the plan in collaboration with the buyer.

Other questions about GAP Selling?

Let us know, and we will come back to update this article.