A strategic business development plan for ‘gap selling’ can help you to solve your customer’s problems and also influence the sale team to close more since selling is all about transitioning people from one state to another.
When people are looking to buy anything for themselves, they are in other words making a decision.
Therefore irrespective of whether it is to do or buy something, they are looking for a change.
Now if you are persuading someone to do something (like the person you are dating to marry you or make your kid eat watercress and radishes) you are selling.
In fact, change is the root of every single sale.
In other words, salespeople are agents who bring change, and as per the strategic business development plan, selling is all about transitioning people from one state to another.
Hence the “current state” is all about where your customers are today, while the “future state” is where they think they want to reach based on their beliefs and perception of where they could reach in that future state.
Therefore in gap selling this gap between the two is the ‘value’ the customers receive and that is exactly what you should be selling to.
Does Problem-Centric Sell Boost Sales?
As per sales gurus and veterans who train others on the strategic business development plan, when most people start selling, they begin to talk about the future state to their prospective customers.
Now the problem with focusing on the future state is that as a salesperson you hardly have any idea where your customers are today. Neither, as a sales rep, you can have any clue of the size of the problem they are trying to solve for themselves.
So how can you perceive that the future state has any value whatsoever?
Hence speaking about the future state can be termed product-centric selling, while gap or problem-centric selling is all about exposing the customer’s issues.
In other words, product-centric selling relates to talking about the feature, benefits, and capabilities of products and services, as well as themselves as a brand and their company, they sell from their perspective, instead of the purchaser’s, which implies talking about the product outcome and not the business outcome of the buyers of their offerings.
On the other hand, problem-centric selling actually focuses on issues around the environment the prospect is currently in, which highlights the problems of that environment, and the effect of those issues on them, their organization, or the people employed in their company.
Hence once your business adopts problem-centric selling as one of its strategic business development plans, sales reps in this scenario try to quantify the impact and assess their prospective customer’s emotions by asking questions like:
- What is happening?
- How painful is it?
- How inefficient you are?
- How much money are you losing?
This is because if your sales reps ask the right questions, the prospects will start realizing that they truly have a problem since if only you can as a sales rep understand the current state your prospects are in, you can easily start to identify the root cause of their pain points and problems, whereby after that you can proceed to ask them about their future state, or where they want to go, what are their goals or how much as a sales rep you are trying to save for your prospect.
In other others, once you have unveiled the motivational factors for the purchase you can actually sell the outcome, which is rather the value your prospective customers will receive from buying your offering(s).
Diagnose the Issue
Remember consumers in the marketplace do not buy problems, instead, they purchase on the impact that the issues are having on their lives.
Hence, prospective customers buy on the impact the problem is having in permitting them to achieve their objectives and goals, or their preferred quality of life – that is how they buy.
Nevertheless, as one of the most awarded vendors of easy-to-use sales CRM software solutions in the Salesforce Alternative CRM arena, we have time and again found that sales reps typically do not begin by diagnosing their prospect’s problems and the impact of those problems in the prospect’s business or life.
Instead, salespersons want to identify what caused the problem and then try to solve the problems for their prospects with their offerings.
Therefore, unlike product-centric selling, problem-centric selling strategies, much like a doctor who try to diagnose any issues if you are feeling unwell by asking a lot of questions about the current situation of their patients so that they can solve the patient’s problems, salespeople must respond in the same manner with their prospective customers for finding sales and revenue growth.
Rather say, in problem-centric selling salespersons should help their customers not only by uncovering their issues, but also by assessing their problems, and getting the prospect to admit that they really have a problem, since it is only by performing this activity that sales reps can help the prospects to evaluate the size of the problem and thereafter get the prospects to think about the impact the problem is having on their organization or them and how it is preventing the prospect from getting where they want to be, just because they are allowing the problems to continue in their lives.
Influence the Sale
Oftentimes, as a salesperson, you will find that the prospective customers do not understand what they require or think that they need to buy.
In fact, in many cases, you as a sales rep could have avoided a prolonged sales cycle because some of your prospects in the first place were never going to buy.
Therefore the reason you lost a sale may be because you could not provide what your prospects thought they needed, whereby in reality you could have provided what they actually needed, or you could sell only one product when otherwise you could have sold all your offerings but could not do so since you did not understand what your prospects really needed from your company.
Hence as a business growth idea, never ever accept what your customers tell that they need or tell you what they think – unless you as a seller have validated and verified it.
Rather as a salesperson try to be an influencer (not just an order taker) and to do that become an expert in understanding your buyer’s problems so that you can have a conversation with your prospects about their business, and not your business when you are pitching for selling to your prospects.
Therefore in problem-centric selling when your prospective customers tell you that they need your consulting services, ask them questions that might include:
- Can you tell me more about your company?
- Can you tell me where and what the problems are behind this?
- Can you tell me why you think you need consulting services?
- Can you illustrate what in reality is going on?
This is because it is only by starting a conversation and by digging into your prospect’s problems and understanding your prospect’s issues or what they are struggling with that you can offer a solution.
Take Advantage Of The Buyer’s Motivation
Irrespective of whether you as a sales rep think that your prospects are purchasing because you will get a better lead conversion, boost in sales, or be able to overcome price better, the reality is your prospective customers buy just for what they think the outcome will be.
Now every problem has a varying impact on the customers.
Hence it is all about what the problem is and what is the impact of the problem on the prospect’s life that dictates the bottom line and the greater the impact the more they will be willing to pay if as a sales rep you can make the problem go away.
It is critical in problem-centric selling that you as a sales rep must succeed in establishing yourself as a trusted advisor to not only to your prospects but even to their influencers so that they can recommend your brand and company to those prospects.
As one of the most popular vendors of CRM for SMBs and startups, we recommend that as a sales rep in gap selling you must establish trust by connecting with prospective customers on the five F’s of their lives which includes:
This is because only when you can connect with another human being with intimacy combined with credibility and trust you can make them open up to you about the problems that they are facing in their lives and business, whereas as a professional you can solve those problems with your offerings.
Finally, as a part of your business’s strategic business development plan, make a list of all the issues that your offerings can solve and also make a checklist of all the impacts that an organization might have if the problem exists, and the causes why those problems can affect an organization.
Remember buyers in any marketplace are always selfishly motivated and so understanding how to capitalize on the motivations is the only way you capture your buyer’s attention and problem-centric or gap selling is an ideal business growth strategy that can help you to solve your customer’s problems and also influence the sale to close more deals in this present marketplace easily.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Conway is a full-time CRM consultant at ConvergeHub and a part-time blogger.