I love reading sales books. I was never very good at sales but I always found the process interesting and have mad respect for salespeople. My favorite sales book of all time is Gap Selling by Keenan. It’s a bit of a misnomer though because it should actually be called Gap Living. The concepts in this book will help you well beyond just using them for sales.
This is a book about problem solving and curiosity and helping people. Want a raise? Read this book. Have a job interview coming up? Read this book. The company you’re interviewing with isn’t looking to hire someone because they have too much money on hand. They have a problem they need to solve. Gap sellers sell to problems, not needs or products.
Early in the book he covers the nine truthbombs of selling. Even if all you read from this book are those nine truthbombs, it would still be worth your time. Then he starts speaking my language with 5 Why, root cause analysis, psychology, being curious and asking great questions. I love asking questions. So many sales people are so quick to jump to their product when they could be gathering a treasure trove of information to use later in the sale. Many times customers may not actually know what their problem is. It is your job to find out.
As I was reading this book, I was thinking of some of the salespeople I have met with in the past and I wish they would have had this knowledge when reaching out to me. Things would have gone better for both of us. I can’t tell how many times companies have scheduled demos for an ideal scenario that had nothing to do with how I actually work. They were solving easy problems that I didn’t have. They were product centric.
Great salespeople are tremendously undervalued as they help you identify problems and solutions. I may think my problem is “x” when really my problem is “z”. You don’t know what you don’t know. Once you know your customers’ current state, future state, and intrinsic motivation, now you have permission to start talking about your product or service.
Here is the biggest takeaway: people don’t like change but will when the future state is better than the current state, and that is where the gap exists. That’s why gap selling exists. I thoroughly enjoyed it and more than enjoying it, I found it incredibly useful and I know you will too.
While you’re at it, check out his other book Not Taught and read my review.