Our Complete Guide to Gap Selling

Shut the hole, and also you’ll shut the deal. That’s the idea behind Hole Promoting — a gross sales methodology developed by Keenan, CEO and president of A Gross sales Development Firm.

The “hole” refers back to the area between the place a prospect is now and the place they wish to be sooner or later. Your purpose as a vendor is to assist prospects fill that hole.

However how precisely do you obtain that? How do you shut this hole in your prospect’s thoughts?

On this information, we’ll clarify what the Hole Promoting Methodology is and the way this framework will help increase your gross sales. We’ll additionally show you how to decide if this gross sales methodology is true in your staff and easy methods to implement it.

What’s Hole Promoting?

Hole Promoting takes a problem-centric method to method. The “hole” refers back to the area between a prospect’s present state and their future state or “the place they wish to be.” Hole Promoting is all about understanding each states and positioning your resolution to fill that hole.

While you deal with diagnosing your prospects’ issues, you’re constructing a robust basis for the gross sales course of. It additionally positions you as a trusted advisor whose predominant concern is fixing their issues.

What makes the Hole Promoting methodology distinctive?

“Determine a necessity and promote it.” 

It’s gross sales recommendation that you just’ve most likely heard earlier than, and on the floor, it is smart. A pc gross sales rep received’t know what to advocate until they know what you want.

Nevertheless, Keenan argues that promoting based mostly on want is the mistaken method. Right here’s a direct quote from his gross sales guide Hole Promoting:

“By no means promote to want. In the event you solely remedy the issue your purchaser thinks they’ve as a substitute of the one they actually have, you haven’t helped them in any respect.”

So what do you have to do as a substitute? Focus in your prospects’ issues as a substitute. 

Keenan clarifies his place in additional element:

“Issues get you to the affect and the affect is the place urgency, worth, and want stay and the place the sale takes root.”

Figuring out what these issues are and how one can remedy them is on the coronary heart of the Hole Promoting methodology, which consists of three components: present state, future state, and the hole. 

Let’s take a better look.

Present state

A prospect’s present state represents their bodily and literal state of affairs. It describes what they’re going via proper now.

Main elements of a prospects’ current state

Keenan describes 5 components of a prospect’s present state of affairs:

  • Setting: The place your prospect relies and what their surroundings is like.
  • Drawback: The issues or challenges they’re experiencing.
  • Affect: The affect that these issues are having on them and their group.
  • Root trigger: The elemental points which can be inflicting these issues to happen.
  • Emotion: How their present state is affecting them emotionally.

With this data, a gross sales rep can study a prospect’s future state.

Future state

A prospect’s future state represents their splendid consequence. What do they need their future processes to be like? What affect will fixing the issue have on them and their enterprise?

As reps work with prospects to find out their future state, they’re additionally evaluating how their options will help get them there.

The hole

The hole represents the “distance” between your prospects’ present and future state. A wider hole means a stronger motivation to purchase (and the next probability of closing the deal).

As soon as you already know the place your prospects wish to be and you’ve decided that the hole is vast sufficient to warrant buying your resolution, you’ll have a better time convincing them why they should make a change.

Examples of Hole Promoting questions

Understanding your prospects’ present station and the place they wish to be requires asking the appropriate gross sales questions. In Hole Promoting, Keenan shares 4 sorts of questions that may show you how to get to the guts of your prospects’ issues.

Probing questions

The discovery course of is all about gathering data. Right here you’ll ask probing inquiries to get prospects to share extra perception into the issues they’re dealing with. These are open-ended questions that means you’re eliciting responses past “sure” or “no” solutions.

Sales rep asking probing questions

Examples of probing questions embody:

  • “You talked about [problem]. Are you able to inform me extra about it?”
  • “What sort of affect is [problem] having in your group?”

All the time comply with up and dive deeper when prospects point out a selected drawback. This can show you how to higher perceive the foundation reason for an issue.

Course of questions

Course of questions show you how to find out how your prospect performs a particular motion. They will help you get to the foundation reason for technical or operational issues.

Examples of course of questions embody:

  • “Are you able to assist me perceive how your organization at present does [process]?”
  • “Are you able to stroll me via what occurs earlier than/after [process]?”

For instance, let’s say that you just provide accounting software program. To study extra a couple of prospect’s processes, you’d say one thing like, “Inform me what occurs when a brand new bill is available in.”

Don’t be afraid to comply with up with probing questions. The responses you get will present extra perception into the group’s inside workings, which can show you how to place your services or products extra successfully.

Frightening questions

Your prospects could not perceive the extent of their issues. They may solely perceive how sure points have an effect on them, however not the way it impacts their staff or the corporate.

Frightening questions get your prospects to consider their drawback in a manner that they hadn’t thought-about earlier than. The purpose right here is to get them to see the larger image and the bigger affect of their points. 

Examples of frightening questions embody:

  • “Have you ever thought-about what would occur if [provocative insight]?”
  • “What affect does [problem] have on the remainder of your staff?”

While you ask questions that get your prospects pondering, they’re extra prone to see you as a trusted advisor. Why? You’re serving to them think about issues they might not have considered on their very own, not simply pushing a product with out understanding their state of affairs.

Validating questions

Don’t make any assumptions. All through the invention course of, you must at all times ask validating questions to substantiate what your prospects simply mentioned.

Examples of validating questions embody:

  • “To me, it looks like [problem] is the primary difficulty right here, am I understanding you accurately?”
  • “Final time we spoke you mentioned [key issue or concern]. Has something modified since we final talked?”

Not like probing questions, validating questions are sometimes close-ended, that means that you just’re attempting to elicit a “sure” or “no” response.

This does this two issues:

  • Retains you and your prospect on the identical web page
  • Reveals that you just’ve listened to what they’re saying

By eradicating ambiguity, you’re additionally stopping any miscommunication that might frustrate potential clients and derail the deal.

Is the Hole Promoting methodology proper in your staff?

Hole Promoting is a question-heavy gross sales methodology. In reality, Keenan says that you must spend 1 / 4 of the gross sales cycle on studying your prospects’ present and future state. Meaning a big a part of your gross sales course of will probably be spent on discovery.

Nevertheless, spending this a lot time on discovery isn’t at all times sensible. For transactional gross sales like family items, potential clients received’t have the endurance to take a seat via this line of questioning.

Hole Promoting isn’t a superb match for transactional gross sales and retail environments. However it’s splendid for B2B companies, particularly ones that remedy complicated issues with (usually) customized options.

Some examples that come to thoughts embody:

  • Business insurance coverage
  • Managed IT providers
  • Undertaking administration software program
  • Workflow automation
  • Payroll processing

In the event you provide services or products that don’t have a regular resolution, then the Hole Promoting methodology may very well be a superb match in your staff.

One thing else to contemplate is that Hole Promoting is tough to grasp. There isn’t a script which you could simply hand to your reps. Keenan even says that reps want “off-the-charts enterprise acumen” to efficiently implement this system.

In the event you determine to implement Hole Promoting, ensure to put money into gross sales coaching in your reps, so that they have the required basis. 

Methods to get began with the Hole Promoting methodology

Hole Promoting solely consists of three steps: study your prospects’ present state, decide the place they wish to be, and shut the hole. Sadly, implementing this system isn’t as straightforward because it sounds.

The step-by-step course of outlined beneath will show you how to implement the Hole Promoting methodology in your group.

1. Create a Drawback Identification Chart

One of many high gross sales errors that gross sales reps make is reaching out to prospects with out first understanding their challenges. This usually leaves reps unprepared throughout their gross sales calls.

Keenan recommends making a Drawback Identification Chart the place you listing the completely different issues that your services or products can remedy, together with their affect and root trigger. You’ll create this chart earlier than reaching out to a prospect.

Right here’s an instance of a Drawback Identification Chart: 

Example of a problem identification chart

Let’s say that you just provide venture administration software program. 

Step one is to listing the issues that your resolution solves. One drawback may very well be a venture supervisor who struggles with maintaining their staff aligned. The affect is that tasks are regularly delayed, resulting in sad purchasers and a lack of income.

The subsequent step is to put in writing down what you already know about the issue. What’s behind these explicit points? On this case, venture managers could not have a single supply of fact. Information about their tasks are somewhere else, which makes delegation and useful resource planning tough.

In fact, issues can usually have a number of root causes. Brainstorm along with your staff to make sure that you already know sufficient about every difficulty earlier than you interact with a prospect.

2. Get the information about your prospects and uncover their issues

The primary order of enterprise is to study your prospects’ present state. The purpose right here is to collect as a lot data as you possibly can.

  • What’s their bodily and literal state of affairs?
  • What are their enterprise processes like?
  • What sorts of challenges are they dealing with?
  • How are they at present addressing these challenges?
  • Why are they doing one thing about it now?

Needless to say you don’t wish to deliver up your services or products throughout this stage. That’ll solely make you come off as too pushy and even grasping. Your precedence is to easily collect information about your prospects and study extra about their issues.

Professional gross sales tip:

Discovery is an ongoing course of. 

Common reps are inclined to frontload their discovery questions as in the event that they’re checking off gadgets from a to-do listing. This can be a mistake. Based on our information, the highest gross sales performers ask probing questions all through a name.

Discovery question flow for top and average sales performers

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Don’t deal with discovery as a one-time factor. All the time ask follow-up questions all through gross sales conversations along with your prospects.

3. Uncover the affect of your prospects’ issues and determine root causes

You’ve uncovered vital information about your prospects, and you’ve got a primary understanding of their issues. However you’re not executed with the information-gathering stage but.

The subsequent step is to dig into your prospects’ issues and decide their affect with questions like:

  • “How is [problem] affecting the underside line?”
  • “What are the implications every time it happens?”

Then ask probing inquiries to comply with up. 

For instance, in case your prospect says one thing like, “Our clients are churning at a excessive charge,” you’d probe by asking, “Are you able to inform me extra about that?” or “Why do you assume that’s occurring?” After which actively take heed to what they need to say.

After you have a clearer image of the foundation reason for an issue, you’ll have a greater thought of easy methods to place your resolution.

Professional gross sales tip:

There’s a robust correlation between your prospects’ response size and success charges.

How customer story length affects success rates

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The way you phrase your questions issues. Begin your questions with these phrases to evoke longer responses:

  • “Are you able to assist me perceive…”
  • “Are you able to stroll me via…”
  • “Are you able to discuss to me about…”
  • “Are you able to inform me about…”

Beginning your questions with these phrases indicators to prospects that you just’re searching for longer responses. You’ll get extra in-depth responses and increase your success charges.

4. Know your prospects’ future state

The subsequent step is to find out your prospects’ future state. This entails figuring out the surroundings they wish to create and the way their splendid consequence would have an effect on them emotionally.

Examples of future state questions embody:

  • “What objectives do you wish to obtain?”
  • “How would you measure success?”
  • “What would fixing [problem] imply in your staff?”

In fact, don’t neglect to comply with up. In case your prospect tells you about an consequence they’d like to realize, discover out why. This can show you how to decide what’s most vital to them.

Professional gross sales tip:

Spend extra time listening to your prospects than talking.

Based on our information, the highest reps have a 46:54 talk-to-listen ratio. They spend greater than half the time on a name (54%) listening to their prospects than speaking. In distinction, common reps have a 68:32 talk-to-listen ratio.

Winning talk-to-listen ratio for top and average reps

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Need entry to name analytics information like this? With Gong’s gross sales enablement software program, you possibly can measure talk-to-listen ratios for all of your reps (and way more).

5. Decide your prospects’ determination standards

Take into consideration a latest buy you made. There’s a superb probability that you just in contrast completely different choices and narrowed them down based mostly on sure standards earlier than making a call.

Equally, your prospects are possible contemplating a number of options. They’re evaluating standards like ease of use, capabilities, and information safety to assist with their determination. Understanding what these standards are will show you how to tailor your messaging.

Ask these questions to know how your prospects consider new purchases:

  • “What are an important standards for a purchase order like this?”
  • “Are you able to inform me extra about your organization’s shopping for course of?”
  • “Who will you communicate with to finalize this determination?”
  • “How did you determine on the earlier resolution?”

Don’t neglect to ask validating questions to substantiate the standards they worth most (e.g., “You talked about that [criteria] is a predominant deciding issue. Is that appropriate?”). When you perceive how your prospects make buying choices, we are able to transfer on to the final step.

6. Shut the hole

You realize your prospects’ present state and the place they wish to be. Now it’s time to current your resolution and shut that hole.

Closing the gap in sales

A wider hole is a serious gross sales alternative. Keenan says, “Gross sales occur when the longer term state is a greater state.” Prospects have a better motivation to purchase as soon as they acknowledge that the established order is unacceptable, and alter is important.

Listed below are suggestions for making a kickass gross sales demo and successful your prospects over:

  • Stick to a couple options: Your resolution could have a ton of options, however you don’t wish to reveal all of them directly. Doing so will solely overwhelm your prospects. As an alternative, deal with the options that handle their issues (maintain it to 6 max).
  • Anchor your prospects: One solution to inspire your prospects to behave is to “anchor” them in your resolution. After showcasing a characteristic, ask questions like: “Are you able to see how [feature] will help you handle [problem]?” This can get your prospects to check a greater future state.
  • Deal with enterprise issues: There are two sorts of issues: technical and enterprise issues. Keenan says that the important thing to getting a sale is to deal with how your resolution helps prospects remedy their enterprise drawback (e.g., frequent venture delays, excessive churn charges, declining gross sales, over one thing like lack of integrations).

By following these steps, you’ll assist your prospects shut the hole and take step one in the direction of their desired outcomes — signing your deal. 

Nevertheless, if you happen to’re scuffling with overcoming objections, then get our free Objection Dealing with Masterclass, the place you’ll find out how high reps flip objections into commissions.

Hole Promoting vs. Answer Promoting: What’s the distinction?

Hole Promoting locations a robust emphasis on figuring out a prospect’s issues, whereas Answer Promoting is extra about uncovering their wants.

Nevertheless, Keenan says that specializing in wants is the mistaken method. A prospect could have recognized a right away want, however they might not know the extent of their drawback. This makes it tough to successfully place your resolution.

In Hole Promoting, you’re taking a extra problem-centric method. You’re spending a whole lot of time simply on discovery alone to study your prospects’ issues. This helps place your self as a trusted advisor quite than a pushy salesperson.

Gong + Hole Promoting = increased win charges

Gong provides you full visibility into your gross sales pipeline, so you possibly can pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. Get an entire breakdown of your gross sales information and leverage key insights to tell your gross sales technique.

Gong’s gross sales analytics software program captures each interplay, permitting you to know what separates your high reps. Armed with this data, you may get to work on “cloning” your high reps and replicating their success with the remainder of your staff.

Sales data for top performers

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Need to actually put the Hole Promoting methodology to the take a look at? With Gong, you possibly can arrange trackers and see how your gross sales messaging performs out within the subject in real-time.

See how you should use Gong to rework your gross sales course of and unlock income.

Further Hole Promoting sources

Take a look at the next sources to study extra concerning the Hole Promoting methodology.

Hole Promoting: Getting the Buyer to Sure

Hole Promoting: Getting the Buyer to Sure was revealed in 2018 by Keenan, making it one of many youngest gross sales strategies on the market.

In Hole Promoting, Keenan explains his methodology in full element — why you must deal with uncovering your prospects’ issues, the 4 steps of the invention course of, easy methods to set the appropriate cadence, and extra.

Hole Promoting On-line Coaching

In the event you want to comply with a extra structured studying program, you possibly can enroll in Hole Promoting On-line Coaching that Keenan affords via his gross sales consulting agency. Programs can be found for each people and groups. 

The curriculum for Hole Promoting On-line Coaching seems like this:

  • Intro to the hole
  • Drawback identification
  • Discovery half 1
  • Discovery half 2
  • Demo / resolution
  • Pipeline

There are video classes and actions for every. Particular person coaching prices $499 per yr. There are three annual plans for staff coaching: Group Work ($2,599), Small Firm ($5,299), and Massive Firm ($14,999).


Hole Promoting takes a problem-centric method to gross sales. It asks that you just diagnose your prospects’ issues and decide desired outcomes earlier than discussing your resolution.

In case your gross sales reps are struggling to attach with prospects, then adopting this system will help increase their win charges. However you’ll have to equip them with the appropriate instruments to trace their efficiency and supply the steerage they should crush their objectives.

Request a demo as we speak to see how Gong’s income intelligence software program can take your gross sales technique to the subsequent degree.

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