How to Use Gap Selling to Improve Sales Team Performance


For every good sales team, there are at least a dozen different sales methodologies that could be employed to take things to the next level. The best sales method for one team or organization may not be the same as what’s best for the next, so it’s helpful to learn about the different methodologies and what they have to offer. Gap selling is one of the more popular sales strategies out there today, and we’ll cover everything you need to know here. 

What is gap selling?

The gap selling methodology is simple: there is a gap between where the prospect is and where they want to be. Sales reps need to position their product as the best solution to fill that gap. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that—this methodology requires your sales team to ask the most thought-provoking and effective questions possible and time them appropriately so that they elicit the right information. 

A sales professional known simply as Keenan defined gap selling in his best-selling book, Gap Selling: Getting the Customer to Yes. He’s the CEO of A Sales Growth Company, and his book has helped several sales teams find a better way to turn prospects into customers. 

The process of gap selling starts by identifying three elements of the buying scenario with each prospect:

  • Where they are (current state)
  • Where they want to be (future state)
  • The “gap” between those two components

The focus is on the customer, not the sale. And to get from point A to point B, there are a few steps involved. 

  1. Gather the facts 
  2. Identify the pain points 
  3. Determine the effects of these pain points
  4. Identify how the prospect feels as a result of the problem

Gap selling questions 

Within this process, certain questions can help sales reps determine how they can “fill the gap” to meet the customer’s needs. These questions, as mentioned, should be thoughtful and well-planned, and focused on getting to the root of the prospect’s problem so that you can deliver a solution. 

As Keenan says in his book: “Problems get you to the impact and the impact is where urgency, value, and need live and where the sale takes root.”

To find that urgency, value, and need, ask prospects three categories of questions: probing questions, provoking questions, and validating questions. 

Probing questions

Probing questions are exactly what they sound like: questions that probe for deeper information. They are used to get as much detail and information from the prospect as possible. These questions should be open-ended to be most effective. 

Some examples of probing questions include:

  • Can you tell me more about your problem?
  • How is the problem or pain point affecting day-to-day work or over-arching business goals and success?
  • What do you hope to achieve with a solution for your problem?
  • How do you currently handle the process related to [issue]?

Provoking questions

Provoking questions are those that make the prospects think or play the “devil’s advocate” in some cases. They help your sales reps discern more closely what prospects need and what types of solutions would most get their attention. This may cause some discomfort for prospects, but it is an important step in getting them to a decision. 

Some common provoking questions are:

  • How could this problem affect your organization in the future? 
  • Have you considered what would happen if you chose the wrong solution?
  • Have you considered [idea]?
  • How long can you work like this?

Validating questions

Finally, you have validating questions. These are questions that you ask to validate and affirm your prospect’s decision. These can be closed-ended questions and are essentially designed to confirm everything you’ve learned thus far and ensure everyone is on the same page. 

A few examples of validating questions include:

  • Just to confirm, you said that your pain point is [insert pain point]?
  • It sounds like you have [task] under control, but you need more help with [task 2], correct?
  • Last time we talked, you were having trouble with [issue]. Is that still relevant? What has changed, if anything?

Benefits of gap selling 

While this may not be the ideal sales methodology for every business, those who use it will find that several benefits come from being able to master the system. For B2B sales and complex solutions, gap selling is a good choice. Some of the perks that come from successfully implementing this sales method include:

  • Better relationships: Gap sales methods and tactics require your reps to spend more time getting to know customers and their needs. This helps build stronger relationships, increase trust, and build credibility and rapport. 
  • More satisfied customers: When your sales team is taking the time to get to know its customers, they are going to be far more satisfied with their experience. Gap selling and other customer-centric methods work because they focus on the prospect, and that’s what today’s consumers want. 
  • Improved metrics: When you have better relationships and more satisfied customers, it’s not just going to be your bottom line that increases. You’ll gain revenue, sure, but you’ll also see improvement in the rest of your KPIs. 
  • Better customer focus: Companies that are successful today are those that spend adequate time and attention on their customers. Gap selling is all about paying attention to what the customer needs to get them from where they are to where they want to be. 

As mentioned, gap selling does take some work to master, but it can be a great choice for some industries where that extra attention on the customer can help facilitate a better buying decision. When you do it right, you can gain these benefits and others. 

Who’s filling the gap between your sales calls and scheduling needs?

While your team is trying to master a new sales technique, who’s taking care of the everyday tasks? Fortunately, when you partner with the virtual receptionists at, you never have to worry about that. From our 24/7 answering service to support for lead intake and appointment scheduling, we’ve got you covered. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to

Business Education
Sales Tips
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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