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  • Writer's pictureJames Purvis

“Gap Selling” + Force Management® = The Unstoppable Approach to Selling in Today's World

If you are in enterprise software sales, you've likely come across Force Management® sales training in some form or fashion. They have trained thousands of sales professionals from organizations such as Okta, Rubrik, Zendesk, Segment, PTC, and Nutanix (I’ve personally gone through the training twice and recommend it). Alternatively, if you are someone who reads a lot of self-help sales books like me, you may have stumbled upon, Gap Selling which is a best seller written by the outspoken sales guru Keenan and one of my top picks.

After I read Gap Selling for a second time, it hit me, this sales methodology is the modern approach to Force Management® and if you combine the two, you can be unstoppable at sales in today's B2B world.

First, let’s break each one down.


What is Force Management?

Force Management is a sales consulting and training firm which emphasizes selling on value and differentiation with the focus on what's important to the buyer. What's unique to Force Management is that their training is not a "one size fits all" approach and is tailored to each organization they work with.

Many of the tech industry's most successful sales organizations leverage Force Management's Value Framework as the foundation for their sales approach and tech legend and the only 5X CRO, John McMahaon, has enforced the training method at every organization he's been apart of.

"We need to get to the people who own the problem and to the people who own fixing the problem. And sometimes those aren't the same." - John Kaplan

Biggest Takeaway: The Mantra

The Mantra stems from Force Management’s Command the Message® training which is designed to align the sales team with the buyer’s current state, what they are trying to achieve with a solution (positive business outcomes), and what’s required to get there (required capabilities).

Below is The Mantra script (great for emails) which I often use:

What I heard you say is that these are the Positive Business Outcomes you are trying to achieve:

In order to achieve these positive business outcomes, we agreed that these are the Required Capabilities you’re going to need:

You will probably want to measure these required capabilities with the following Metrics:

Let me tell you How We Do it:

Let me tell you How We Do it Better/Different

But don’t take my word for it [Proof Points].

My Favorite Force Management Tips:

  • Uncover your buyer’s positive business outcomes by digging deep. Don’t just scratch the surface. What are the before and after scenarios? How will these outcomes benefit the organization? The individual?

  • Understand the negative consequences of the buyer not acting on the business pain. What are the company-wide impacts?

  • Keep the entire approach buyer-focused and stay away from feature-dumping.

  • Use trap-setting questions which highlight the value the customer will receive as a result of a differentiator you have.

  • Be “audible-ready” by becoming an expert, preparing, and planning for every situation.

  • Build out a Value Framework = Customer’s current state and negative consequences. Customer’s future state and positive business outcomes.

  • Leverage MEDDICC as a qualification process to help ensure the way you sell is aligned with the way customers want to buy.


What is Gap Selling?

In Gap Selling, you don't sell to a customer's need which contrasts to the traditional "solution selling" approach we were all taught. Keenan believes that selling to a need is just a fancy way of product-selling or being "product-centric" which weakens the sales rep's position since the product is the center of the conversation, not the problem or the desired future outcome.

In Gap Selling, the problem is the center of the conversation and avoids selling to need or competing at the product level by focusing the entire sales process around current state problems and their impact to the organization. It then moves to the desired future state and the outcomes the customer wants to achieve and only at that point is the product or solution entered into the discussion.

"Gap Selling moves conversations to problem discussions, BEFORE any agreement on need is reached. There is little to no discussion on the product or its features until the current environmental problems have been identified, quantified and the impact to the organization, department or functional group has been measured." - Keenan

Biggest Takeaway: The 9 Truth Bombs

  1. No problem. No sale

  2. In every sale, there is a gap

  3. All sales are about change

  4. Customers don’t like change

  5. Sales are emotional

  6. Customers do like change when they feel it’s worth the cost

  7. Asking “Why” gets customers to “Yes”

  8. Sales happen when the future state is better than the current state

  9. No one gives a shit about you.

My Favorite Gap Selling Tips:

  • Every time you talk about your company or product, you are “selling” and this creates resistance from the customer. Make the customer the hero, not you or your company, and save the “selling” for the end.

  • Selling is a giving profession. Therefore, every time you engage with a customer, you should be giving them some form of value (ie industry information, insight into the market, tips to make their job easier, etc).

  • Dig for specific metrics - don’t allow open-ended answers.

  • At the heart of every sale there is a gap. It’s a gap between what buyers have now and what they want in the future.

  • You can’t sell a future state unless you have a strong grasp on the customer’s current state.

  • Create a PIC Chart = Problems - write down every problem your solution solves for. Impact - what is the negative impact of this problem. Root Causes - what specifically are the causes of these problems.


As you can tell, the two sales approaches are similar in many ways.

Here is a quick breakdown of the similarities:

  • Both philosophies are centered around a customer’s current state vs. future state.

  • Both agree that discovery is a process, not a singular event and that deals are won and lost in discovery.

  • Both agree that if there is no problem, there is no sale. Focusing on the business pain and uncovering this in discovery is critical.

  • Both put the customer first (not you or your product) and structure their process to only talk about your solution once a current state and desired future state is well established.

  • Both have a strong emphasis on seeking out metrics (quantifiable business impact).

  • Both encourage you to nail down a decision criteria and know the prospect’s buying process inside and out.


By combining these two approaches to selling, you will ensure you’re always focusing on the customer and not you or your company. This is how customers want to buy in today's world - nobody really cares about you or your company at the end of the day. As Keenan says, "People buy to solve a problem. That's how it works. No problem, no need to change. No need to change, no need to buy anything."



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