Using GAP SELLING To Make Objections And Closing OBSOLETE

Keenan is the CEO and President of a sales consulting firm, A Sales Guy Inc., and was named one of the top 30 social sellers in the world by Forbes.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Keenan is explaining what “GAP Selling” is and why relationships, objections, and closing in sales are dead.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Keenan
Best-selling Author and Gap Selling Specialist

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast.

 

Keenan:

So the only place it matters is value, and the thing that helps drive value is credibility. The credibility you establish as someone who can genuinely help them get done what they need to get done, and bring tremendous value in solving problems. They buy from those people. At the core of that is trust because if you don’t trust somebody, they can’t be credible.

 

Will Barron:

Hello sales nation and Will Barron and host of The Salesman Podcast. The world’s most listened to B2B sales show. If you haven’t already, make sure to click subscribe. With that, let’s meet today’s guest.

 

Keenan:

Hey, what’s up, peeps, my name’s Keenan. I am the author of Gap Selling and CEO and founder of The Sales Guy. You can find [email protected] and/or on Amazon.

 

Will Barron:

On this episode of the show with the legend that is Keenan. We’re diving into gap selling, how we can uncover what the gap is, the insights behind that, how we communicate it? How it makes closing essentially obsolete? How it makes winning new business, once you get all this down at the front of the sales process, a whole lot easier. Let’s jump right in.

 

The Sales Myths That Were True 10 or 20 years Ago That are No Longer True · [01:13] 

 

Will Barron:

What myths are currently being banded around the sales training space, the sales industry, as a whole? Whether it’s from trainers, whether it’s from leadership, whoever it is, what myths have been banded around that perhaps were true 10, 20 years ago, but aren’t necessarily true right now?

 

Keenan:

One is that you need to be liked. That’s the big one, that you need to be liked to sell. Another one is that good closers are good salespeople. That’s a crazy, ridiculous myth. Another one is that price matters and that people buy on price. That is not true.

 

Keenan:

So those are your three big ones that really … I mean, the other one is that your elevator pitch matters. The idea that you need an elevator pitch and that matters. Those are some of the bigger ones that people throw about and still try to teach.

 

Will Barron:

So why is it? Because all these are seemingly counter-intuitive. I know Objective Management Group have data on the fact that salespeople who don’t feel … I might kind of screw this up from their terminology, but sales people that don’t feel like they need to be liked by their customers, outperform salespeople who want to be liked by the customers, for example.

 

Trust Versus Likability in B2B Sales · [02:28] 

 

Will Barron:

So there’s clear data on this, but it’s still seemingly counter-intuitive of, we think that people will, and this is perpetrated, of people buy from those that they know, like, and trust. How much of that equation is perhaps then trust? As opposed to actually liking the individual?

 

“If I have a four-quadrant matrix that spells the whole thing out. Like is on one axis and value is on another axis. The only axis where people buy every time is on value. So if they like you and there’s value, then they’re going to buy. I mean, I like you and there’s value in what I’m buying, so I’m going to buy. But if you go to the, I like you, but there’s no value, they don’t buy.” – Keenan · [02:46] 

 

Keenan:

It’s all trust. I mean, at the end of the day, people don’t even buy for trust. I have a four quadrant matrix that spells the whole thing out. Like is on one axis and value is on another axis. The only axis where people buy every time is on value. So if they like you and there’s value, then they’re going to buy.

 

Keenan:

I mean, I like you and there’s value in what I’m buying, so I’m going to buy. But if you go to the, I like you, but there’s no value, they don’t buy. Because I’m not buying you unless you’re the product, which is different. Then there’s whole bunch of other things. But I’m not buying you, I’m buying a software, I’m buying services, I’m buying a babysitter. I don’t freaking know. So I’m not buying.

 

Keenan:

Then the other, excuse me, the other column, which I don’t like you, and there’s no value. Well, you can only imagine that’s just fuck off. I mean, that’s just fucking go to hell.

 

“The only place that matters is value and the thing that helps drive value is credibility. The credibility you establish as someone who can genuinely help them get done what they need to get done and bring tremendous value in solving problems. They buy from those people, and at the core of that is trust. Because if you don’t trust somebody, they can’t be credible.” – Keenan · [03:41] 

 

Keenan:

Then other places they do buy is value, but they don’t like you. There’s value but they don’t like you, they will buy. So the only place that matters is value and the thing that helps drive value is credibility. The credibility that you can garner, or that you can establish is the best word, the credibility you establish as someone who can genuinely help them get done what they need to get done and bring tremendous value in solving problems. They buy from those people.

 

Keenan:

At the core of that is trust. Because if you don’t trust somebody, they can’t be credible.

 

Will Barron:

How does then the being a closer come into this? Is it as simple as five, 10 years ago, you could push someone down the pathway of the sales process and get them to sign on the dotted line. Whereas now buyers perhaps have more power, and so that somewhat of a ability to either push or manipulate someone, is less useful because people just don’t care as much.

 

Keenan:

So great question. So they really don’t go hand in hand. The problem with closing, if you remember closing, the assumptive close. Well, okay. This is fantastic. So I’ll get you the contract tomorrow. You’re assuming the close and that they’ll just go along with it.

 

Keenan:

Or if you say, “Hey, if I can get you this and this, then you’ll close.” All of that is what I call product centric selling. All of that is based on the premise that you have told them about the product, you told them what they need. You may even listen to them a little bit, but you really have no idea on why they should buy. So you don’t know if they’re ready to close or not. Or if they should close or not.

 

“What I argue is that the close is actually at the beginning of the sale. Your ability to actually uncover the intrinsic motivations of why they need to buy, the impact of why they need to buy, their current state or current situation, why they’re in trouble, what problems they’re struggling with? All of that. When you get all of that, and then you offer a solution, you know if they should buy. You’ve already addressed all of the things that go into it. So at the end, it’s a simple, let’s move forward.” – Keenan · [05:16] 

 

Keenan:

What I argue is that the close is actually at the beginning of the sale. Your ability to actually uncover the intrinsic motivations of why they need to buy. The impact of why they need to buy. Their current state or current situation, and what’s happening? Why they’re in trouble? What problems they’re struggling with? All of that.

 

Keenan:

When you get all of that, and then you offer a solution, you know if they should buy. You’ve already addressed all of the things that go into it. So at the end, it’s a simple, I don’t even know. I can’t really call it a close. It’s all right, let’s move forward.

 

Keenan:

It’s done. There is no close. There is no I got to get them to some point. It’s already done. It’s all done in the beginning, not the end. So if you’re going to be a hard closer, you didn’t do the upfront work.

 

The Difference Between Asking Discovery Questions and the Sales Qualifying Process · [06:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Oh. So what’s the difference then, Keenan, between that and then traditional kind of textbook, just qualifying?

 

Keenan:

So textbook qualifying, in most cases, people are looking for a need. So they’re saying go find a need or go find the pain. Well, there’s two problems with those. First, a lot of times people confuse the two, which is a whole different set of stories.

 

Keenan:

But if you’re looking for need, it assumes the customer knows what they want. That’s a huge mistake, huge mistake. I talk about, tell a story in the book, how I thought I needed to charger one time. Then what I ended up needing was actually a case. I had no idea that I needed a case for my Palm Pilot when I thought I needed a charger. It’s a great story in the book.

 

Keenan:

Had that salesperson not asked some questions to try to get to my core problem, I never would have got it solved because I went into buy the wrong thing. Well, that happens with customers all the time. So salesmen run out and try to sell them stuff based on what they think the customer needs, because they’re looking for a need.

 

Keenan:

The second one is they go in for the quote/unquote, the pain. First, we don’t even do it very well. When they do find the pain, that doesn’t necessarily mean again, it’s the right problem. It can be simply a symptom. So it makes it very difficult to influence a sale if you’re trying to shoot for a need or a pain that isn’t actually at the root cause and/or isn’t what the customer actually needs. So it doesn’t allow you to do a good job.

 

Keenan:

The discovery that Gap Selling talks about is about breaking it down into current state plus future state, and that equals the gap, the difference between the two. Then you have a total understanding of what’s going on. Where they are today? Where they want to go tomorrow? What the space in the middle is?

 

Keenan:

Then when it comes time to offer a solution, it can be customised because your discovery actually created a custom environment, a unique environment that is only specific to that buyer.

 

How to Identify if We’ve Uncovered the Symptom of a Problem or the Problem Itself · [07:56]

 

Will Barron:

So how then do we know? I don’t know. It’s even a weird question to ask because it seems so simple. But perhaps it’s profound of how we uncover it because this sets up the rest of the sale and the conversation. How do we know the difference between we have uncovered a symptom of the problem? Versus we know the actual problem itself? How do we separate the two live in a conversation?

 

Keenan:

Yeah. So it happens as you dig deeper. So in Gap Selling, the way we talk about the discovery is first, you got to go after the current state. That’s first and foremost. So the current state consists of the physical and literal today. I don’t know, it depends on what you’re selling and you got to be aware of what you’re selling.

 

Keenan:

But if you’re selling, I don’t know, lead services or plumbing services. I don’t care, plumbing services. Then you got to understand, okay, what type of house do they have? How many bathrooms do they have? How many showers? Is it copper piping or plastic tubing? Whatever.

 

Keenan:

You ask all these questions and it’s non-judgemental, it just helps you understand the lay of the land. Then after that, you have to understand what are the problems that they’re struggling with? So do they get clogged often? Does the water run slowly? Do you not have hot water? I’m just guessing stuff.

 

Keenan:

So now you’ve got to understand the problems they’re having. Then you go to the impact of those problems. The impact is two people can’t take showers at the same time. I’m constantly having to buy fricking Drano. Our hot water bill is through the roof. I don’t know, what is the impact?

 

Keenan:

Then the next one is what is the root cause? Now as you start to dig into the root cause of the problems, what you start to build is a very, very custom assessment that is only specific to that customer. When you add all four of those things up, the actual problem starts to come together.

 

Keenan:

As opposed to, you’re like, oh, okay. I thought that was the problem. Now I realise that’s just a symptom. Because as you dig and you dig and you get all four of those layers, the problem becomes automatic.

 

Is It Fair to Say That Customers Rarely Know What They Need Until a Seller Uncovers the Root of the Problem? · [10:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there a process of getting the person that we’re speaking to, to visualise this and take it in? Other than walking them through it? If that makes sense. Are we asking people to go well … It sounds cliche as I say it out loud. It sounds ridiculous as I say it out loud.

 

Will Barron:

Imagine this problem 10 years into the future, tell me the pain that you’d be in? Almost like a kind of psychologist or psychiatrist would do for us? Are we trying to get into their brains like that?

 

Keenan:

No, you don’t have to. It’s amazing. Well, so when you asked about traditional discovery. One of the things traditional discovery people do is they go, can you tell me what you need? They just ask this one question. Can you tell me what you need? Or can you tell me about some of the pain you’re experiencing? Or they just ask these stupid, direct, direct, direct questions.

 

Keenan:

In Gap Selling, what we do is we encourage people to ask very broad open-ended questions. Literally like, tell me a little bit about your current? I mean, we’re running on the stupid analogy, might as well continue with it. Tell me a little bit about your current plumbing and your current bathroom and kitchen environment? Then they’ll just start talking and as they talk, you listen very intently. You should know what questions to ask.

 

Keenan:

So as I they, “Well, we have …” I don’t know. “We have one bathroom.” Then the next question may be, oh really? How many people live in the house? You should automatically click one bathroom. Is it one person or 10 people? If it’s 10 people, that’s an interesting problem. If it’s one person, not a problem, continue. Do you see what I’m saying?

 

Keenan:

Then they say, “We have a shower and a tub separate.” Okay. Interesting. You just let them go and you keep teasing little more out of them to start understanding the environment. Then when you understand the environment, then you should naturally be able to understand some of the problems that come with that.

 

Keenan:

So you start asking questions to tease out problems there. So say it’s a woman and she’s 32, and you said, “Do you have long hair or short hair?” Now why am I asking that question right now, Will? Why would I ask if you have long hair or short hair?

 

Will Barron:

Blocking up the drains?

 

Keenan:

Yes, yes, yes. So this is a very complex way of thinking. You have to be very, very in tune with what they’re saying and what the problems could be and what the root causes could be. So that as they’re talking, and she says, “Long hair.” You can say, “Oh, so do you find that your hair clogs the drain often? Or how many times you get clogged? You get once a year? Is it usually hair related?” “Yes, it is.”

 

Keenan:

Okay. Now I know that if I have any products that can address that, I’m going to bring them up. That’s how you do it. You just pay very close attention to the environment and what they’re saying to start to look and tease out problems that they’re not processing.

 

Will Barron:

First question is, are you having some plumbing work done at the moment? Why is this top of mind?

 

Keenan:

No, I have no idea where this problem came from. Because it’s always hard. There’s different businesses out there.

 

Will Barron:

The reason I ask is I’m having a kitchen fitted in a couple of weeks. So I’ve got all this kind of stuff top of mind. So it’s just a weird coincidence.

 

Keenan:

Yes. Like if I was working with you on your kitchen. I would ask all kinds of questions. Like, is it you? Or you and your wife? Is it you and your kids? What do you like to cook? What does she like to cook? How do you cook today? How often do you cook today? What type of meals does she cook today?

 

Keenan:

Because I might be thinking you need, it’s something as silly as I might even recommend the boiling pot thing that comes out of behind the stove? You know that thing that comes out?

 

Will Barron:

We’ve been through that conversation. We’re not getting one.

 

Keenan:

Yeah, oh god.

 

How to Set Yourself Up As An Expert Consultant Instead of a Pesky Salesperson · [13:37] 

 

Will Barron:

Don’t need bullshit like that in the kitchen. All right. Going off track here, Keenan. Let’s pull it back on. So how do we? Because it seems like if I was to call, if Richard Branson was to call me up and say, “I’ve got a few questions about your business, I might be able to help.” I would answer any questions he could possibly imagine.

 

Will Barron:

He might be able to give me, even just nothing to do with consulting with him or working with him in the future, he might be able to give me one or two pieces of information that could blow up my business, or change the way I sell, or anything like that.

 

Will Barron:

But if Joe Boggs emails me saying, “Hey, Will, we’ve got this new SAS.” I’ve just changed accounting firms and accounting software. So perhaps Joe Boggs rings me up, calls me. He says, “I’ve got this awesome new SAS software. Let me get on the phone with you, and I’ll solve all your problems.” I’m going to say, “I’ve probably not got time to get on the phone with you. I’ve just switched kind of 10 minutes ago.”

 

Will Barron:

How do we frame this up, Keenan, so that we are setting ourselves up as an expert to be consulted with? As opposed to a pesky salesperson, just trying to steal time?

 

Keenan:

Yeah. So notice how you just, you even yourself, who’ve been doing this whole sale things for years, just lead with a product-centric email. You said, “Hey, I’m Joe Blow with accounting software, I’d like to talk to you about how I can solve all your problems.”

 

Keenan:

You started with I’m with accounting software. What you needed to do. You can say I’m with so-and-so, but you needed to start with a problem, or number of problems that I think you might have. So why did you switch your accounting software?

 

Will Barron:

Because there was zero accounting and bookkeeping done beforehand, and now the revenue’s getting to the point where it needs to be done basically.

 

Keenan:

But you had one before.

 

Will Barron:

Essentially spreadsheets.

 

Keenan:

Okay. So you’re using spreadsheets, that was your current state.

 

Will Barron:

Yep.

 

Keenan:

So if I know that many of my prospective clients are using spreadsheets, or starter accounting packages, I should know what types of problems that causes. So name one type of problem that you were having because you were on that spreadsheet?

 

Will Barron:

We registered for VAT and it was a mess to go back and see what VAT, this is a kind of tax in the UK that I can-

 

Keenan:

Yeah, Value Added Tax.

 

Will Barron:

Just for the audience who aren’t in the UK. Yeah, I need to claim a tonne of it back now that we’re registered, we have to pay it so that you can have it offset your bill. It’s literally, it means me going through 12 spreadsheets per year for the past four years to kind of put all that data together.

 

Keenan:

Okay. So I might, if I’m good and I know that my target is people like you, small businesses that could be on old accounting systems, I would’ve led that email with, “Will, if you’re having trouble or getting frustrated with having to spend countless hours trying to attack that, do spreadsheets or this accounting software or that counting software.”

 

Keenan:

“I’d love to talk about how we can address that, and many of the other time intensive accounting issues that small businesses have because they don’t have the right accounting software.” Would that have gotten your attention?

 

Will Barron:

That would have got a phone call for sure.

 

“This is what most people don’t understand, when you’re selling a product or service, that product or service was designed to solve problems, whether we talk about them or not. So you should know what those problems are and talk about those problems first. That’s problem centric selling. Don’t talk about your product and what it can do. Start with the problems that have to exist before your product has any value.” – Keenan · [16:48] 

 

Keenan:

Yes. So notice I’m leading with the problem. This is what most people don’t understand, when you’re selling a product or service that product or service was designed to solve problems, whether we talk about them or not.

 

Keenan:

So you should know what those problems are and talk about those problems first. That’s problem-centric selling. Don’t talk about your product and what it can do. Start with the problems that have to exist before your product has any value.

 

Will Barron:

What is the-

 

Keenan:

That’s how you do it.

 

The Key Elements of Problem-centric Selling · [17:19]

 

Will Barron:

I love it. What is the cadence of that, Keenan? What I mean by that is, is this a email with one problem? Then we follow up on that problem, then we pitch a second problem further down the line? The answer is it depends, I’m sure. But is there a structure to build a system around this?

 

Keenan:

It does. It depends. It depends on how big are the problems that you can solve? So if you only solve one really big problem, I would probably stick to it.

 

Keenan:

If you solve several key problems that just different businesses could have. One business could have this, and it’s a big one, another one could have this and it’s a big one. Then I might round Robin it. But I’d go at least two to three touches on the same problem before I pivot.

 

Sharing Content with the Buyer to Educate on the Problems they Might Be Facing and Stay Top of Mind · [17:58] 

 

Will Barron:

Would you then perhaps, because we talk about social selling and it seems to have died down a little bit now, the kind of hype around that. But are we then sending people content in the next email? Or are we always trying to just get that initial phone call? Is that always the call to action?

 

Keenan:

85%. Now, if I’m going to add content, I’m going to add content that’s going to support or explain that problem. So let’s say, I mean, again, I’m on the fly on this, but if we’re using your accounting software and I get you on that, hopefully I’ve got some information that talks about the average half a million dollar a year company, spends 25 hours on that. They have these many mistakes and these mistakes can cause you these problems.

 

Keenan:

So if I educate you on the problem, if you don’t feel that it’s a problem because you didn’t pay a right VAT and you’re paying fines in retro, whatever. So I might do that. I might find content that reinforces, just reinforces the problem or explains the problem. So I’ll go that route.

 

Why Highlighting the Impact of a Customer Problem is Crucial in All Sales Conversations · [19:04] 

 

Will Barron:

Then I want to rush through this because I feel we can paint a good picture on the subject. The answer is buy the book if you want to go more depth into it. But say we get on the phone call, nine times out of 10, it’s probably not going to go as swimmingly and seamlessly as what we’re described here. But we uncover it, whatever the issue is, they have that aha moment that we’re all searching for. 

 

Will Barron:

Everyone’s happy. Everyone’s excited. How do we follow up and reinforce the fact that we have discovered this issue? We potentially have a solution. How does this get formalised? Because I guess if we can get someone to agree to what we’ve said, then we’re halfway there to closing the sale, right?

 

Keenan:

Yes. Well, okay. So yes, but the key is this, getting them to accept and own they have a problem is only half of it. Then you need to outline the impact. Remember I talked about those five things, physical and literal, problem, impact, root cause. Then I didn’t talk about one, emotion. How do they feel about it?

 

Keenan:

When you have all those on the table, the impact is the motivator. That’s where intrinsic motivation lives. So the impact is I’m paying fines. The impact is how much are you paying in fines? X, Y, Z. If you weren’t paying those fines, what would you be doing with that money? I’m making this up. What is your marketing budget? Would you have moved that money from those fines to the marketing budget? What does it cost you to pay those fines? Or whatever the impact is.

 

Keenan:

So we’re going to lay the whole impact out. Once you get them sitting in the impact, it’s a simple transition to the future state now. It’s okay, so where are you trying to go? Is your company growing? That’s of course, yes, it is growing by 20%. So if this keeps growing at 20% year over year, these fines are going to continue to increase and so is the amount of hours you’re spending.

 

Keenan:

So you’re going to lose more and more money. So therefore you want to get to a future state where you’re not losing this money and you’re saving this X amount. Then you start asking questions about what do you want? Where do you want to take the business? What other initiatives do you want to embrace? So now it’s, I don’t know, maybe I want to start a podcast.

 

Keenan:

It’s okay. So now all this 12 hours is going to make it harder to do the podcast. Yes it is. So now I’ve got them all focused on this whole future state where I can stop paying the fines. I’m not spending 12, 15 hours a month doing this. I can do other things that I’d never thought about. I can forecast my business better. I can get a loan.

 

Keenan:

All this stuff I can do that I can’t do now. I spin this whole future state. Then all of a sudden it becomes just a natural transition. I’m here, now I want to be here. The gap is this. That’s what we start selling on is the gap. That’s where the closing is already starting to be done.

 

Gap Selling and Why It’s Important · [22:01]

 

Will Barron:

I think it’s James Murray who came up with this. Maybe I’m kind of paraphrasing him/15 other people I’ve talked about on the show. But I always know, without all this structure, in hindsight, I can put some of this in place, that I’ve done a great sales call. I’ve added value to a conversation when at the end of it, I can just go, does it make sense to work with us?

 

Will Barron:

The answer is either yes or no, because, and then you can backtrack. Oh, there’s an objection or something you haven’t covered. Is that the goal that we should have with all of this? That we just get to the end of the conversation and go, does it make sense to move forward? 

 

Keenan:

Yes. Yes. It’s that simple, it’s that simple? Yep. It is that simple. So getting all that information is hard.

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

Keenan:

I’ll tell a quick little story. I was called, and I talk about it in my book, I was called by this company. They’d already called several sales experts, influencers. Some have been on your show. Some have written books. They’re the names we all know.

 

Keenan:

He had seen me speak at a conference and I don’t know why he decided to call me. Just something wasn’t clicking with the other ones. These are sales experts. These people know how to sell. He got me on the phone and we talked for a while and I went through the whole Gap Selling approach, current state. Obviously don’t tell them that, but you’re just going through the whole thing.

 

Keenan:

One of the things I dug out, is he told all the reasons he wanted. He was very capable buyer. He was like, “I want this, I need this, this is the problem I’m having.” Dah, dah, dah, dah. So he said all of the other sales leaders jumped right on those things he told them, explained how they could help, and walk through what they do it and all this stuff.

 

Keenan:

Then I went to a place and asked some questions. I said, “You said you’re growing.” I said, “So it’s not like you’re losing money.” He goes, “No.” I asked him some questions about how it was structured. He explained how he’s structured. I was like, “Well, that’s kind of a little messed up.” I said, “So why is this growth so important to you?”

 

Keenan:

He said, “Well, it’s not that growth is important. I just don’t want to fall behind.” I said, “Okay, that’s interesting.” Then I said to him, “What is your goal? What is your growth goal?” He said, “Well, we want to get to a 48 in 2020.” This was in 2000, end of 2017. I said, “Oh, okay. Where are you now?” He gave his number and I did some quick math while I’m talking to him.

 

Keenan:

I said, “Wait, you’re behind.” He goes, “Yeah, we’re behind.” I go, “You’re behind seven million dollars. At your current growth rate, you’re not going to make it.” He stopped and he goes, “Yeah, you’re right.” I said, “So this isn’t just about growing. You’ve got to make up some lost revenue here. So you can’t just keep growing, you need to grow faster than you’re even faster going now to make up what you lost.”

 

Keenan:

He said, “That’s a great point.” Then I said this, I said, “Why? Why 48 in 20?” “Well, it’s a big BHAG we have.” I said, “That’s it? It’s just a big BHAG? I mean, okay, that’s fine. So if you don’t make it, it’s not the end of the world.” He goes, “No, but one of our competitors just got bought. When we get to 48 to 50 million, the valuations change dramatically.”

 

Keenan:

I said, “What’s dramatically?” He said, “It could be an extra two to four X from where we are now in valuation, plus we’re 50 million. So it’s really worth 100 million to us.” I said, “Oh. Who owns the company?” He said, “There’s just a handful of us.” I go, “Oh.” So all of a sudden, I now know what the intrinsic motivation is here.

 

Keenan:

I was like, okay, “This is what’s going to happen. This is what you need to do. This is the only way you’re going to get to this.” I got the gig and I tell you the story in that, I beat out a number of very well-known sales experts who didn’t do this. None of them uncovered where he was trying to go.

 

Keenan:

None of them uncovered 48 in 20. None of them uncovered that there was a potential exit. None of them uncovered where he was and what was preventing him to get there, and the fact that he was seven million behind. That changed everything. So that’s what it’s about right there.

 

Will Barron:

So a good part of this seemingly, as I listened to you, and as I process this myself, Keenan, is that you just got to really give a shit about the person that you’re speaking to. They can’t just be another number, another dial, another email that you’re spamming with some kind of automated software.

 

How New Salespeople Can Shift From Product-centric Selling to Problem-centric Selling · [26:00]  

 

Will Barron:

So with that to on side, because I think everyone can appreciate that, everyone can wrap their heads around that. How do we make the leap from say, we’re new to sales and we’re a junior sales person, and we want to share these insights. We want to dig into these conversations. We want to go deep with it all. How do we make the leap from what you’re describing here of I randomly for accounting software. Clearly you’ve got your finger on the pulse of VAT and different things that you certainly mentioned.

 

Will Barron:

So you have a good head for business. You’re an entrepreneur yourself. How does someone compete with that? If they are either new to sales? Or they’re new to a specific industry? How do they learn and get all this background knowledge that allows them to ask these really useful and powerful questions?

 

Keenan:

One of the things you do, and the term that I like to say is how do you go from product centric selling to problem centric selling? The way you do that is you start by doing your homework and research on the problems.

 

Keenan:

So I’m waiting for a company that hires me, that lets me build the problem centric selling, training for them. Because if you get a new job and you go into this accounting firm and they’re going to teach you everything about the product, everything has to be product centric. They’re going to teach you all the different features and functions and how it works and who their customers are. They’re going to teach you how to build an elevator pitch and they’ll teach you how to build messages that talk about the product. I want someone to flip that script.

 

“What I do is I create something called a PIC list. It stands for problem identification chart, and it’s made up of three columns. The first column is the problems that your product or service solves. What are the problems that you know that your product or service solves for your ideal customer profile? Then the next column is the impact to an organisation if those problems exist. Then the next column is why do those problems exist? Or what are the root causes of those problems? If you fill that out and you are accurate and in depth, excuse me, you’re in depth, you now have your guide. That’s your map.” – Keenan · [27:24] 

 

Keenan:

What I do is I create something called a PIC list. It stands for problem identification chart, and it’s made up of three columns. The first column is the problems that your product or service solves. What are the problems that you know that your product or service solves for your ideal customer profile?

 

Keenan:

Then the next column is the impact to an organisation if those problems exist. Then the next column is why do those problems exist? Or what are the root causes of those problems? If you fill that out and you are accurate and in depth, excuse me, you’re in depth, you now have your guide. That’s your map.

 

Keenan:

You look at the problem. You look at the impact it can have on an organisation. You look at why those problems exist. Then you can start having those conversations with anybody. You can enter the account any way you want through that. You can go to the impact first. You can go to the problem first. You go to the root cause first, or why they happen. You can do any of that.

 

Is Social Selling and Having an Online Presence Really Necessary Once a Salesperson Masters the Art of Gap Selling · [28:29]

 

Will Barron:

Do we need to do anything else to set ourselves up when we send that email? What I mean by that is, clearly the example you just give, Keenan, someone saw you on stage speaking. So immediately you’re an authority in their eyes and they ring you up. You’ve pre-framed yourself as an authority by that kind of link.

 

Will Barron:

For the, not the average B2B sales professional, but the high performer, or the aspiring high-performing B2B sales professional, if we send an email that highlights the problem, or our hypothesis of the problem that an individual has, is that good enough to get a phone call? Or do we need to do all of this stuff?

 

Will Barron:

If you’re for this, it’s stuff. If you’re against this, it’s bullshit. Around building a social media profile and social selling and creating content and being at the front of your industry on multiple levels. If we are good at diagnosing a problem, sending a customised message to the right people, do we need all the other stuff? Or is that necessary in the kind of marketplace we’re in?

 

Keenan:

So it depends on how you want to define success. If you just want to be the salesperson that’s, I don’t know, that’s trying to make president’s club and try to hit their quota every once in a while, or I guess every day, and just work within the confines of your industry and work within the confines of your company, don’t do it.

 

Keenan:

If people are responding to your emails and marketing’s providing you inbound leads and people are calling you and your pipeline is big enough, then don’t do it. But if you actually want to put gasoline on the fire, if you actually want to be the top in your space. If you actually just don’t want to be some average dolt, then yeah, you need to do it.

 

“If you highlight the problems and you create content on solving the problems, you create content on how those problems impact an organisation. You create content on how the impact can bring down organisations. You just keep creating content and educating people on the problems you solve, by default you’ll create your own personal inbound engine. You’ll have that credibility. So I don’t know why people don’t. I just think they’re foolish. But absolutely that’s what I would do. Absolutely what I would do.” – Keenan · [30:22] 

 

Keenan:

Because the cool part is you get out there and you create videos, or you write blog posts, or you write LinkedIn posts, or you spend time on Instagram and you highlight the problems and you create content on solving the problems. You create content on how those problems impact an organisation. You create contact and how the impact can bring down organisations.

 

Keenan:

You just keep creating content and educating people on the problems you solve, by default you’ll create your own personal inbound engine. You’ll have that credibility. So I don’t know why people don’t. I just think they’re foolish. But absolutely that’s what I would do. Absolutely what I would do.

 

Will Barron:

Good. I knew you would say that. I tried to tee it up that way. Let me give a bit of context from this. I’ll ask you if this is somewhat common, I guess when you kind of work with individuals, or you’re at least pushing them in this direction of being the top of their industry and their spaces.

 

Will Barron:

I get asked to consult on things, to come into businesses, all that kind of stuff, somewhat regularly now. If I don’t refuse, I just put a ridiculous price on it so that everyone kind of says, “No, sod off, you lanky bugger. What are you kind of playing out here?” Because I don’t want to do it. I’ve not got time to do it, got other priorities.

 

Will Barron:

But four years ago, if you would’ve said to me, “Right, you’re going to do this podcast. You’re going to ask questions that hopefully sales people want to hear. On the other end of it, people are going to be both speaking gigs, and people are going to be throwing consultant jobs at you.” I would never have believed it.

 

The Distinct Benefits of Having an Online Presence · [31:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So what I’m getting at here, Keenan, is, is it worth doing all this? Doing the extra mile? Because it doesn’t just separate you and allows you to have your own inbound engine for your sales role. It potentially sets you up for just bigger things in your career moving forward as well, doesn’t it?

 

“Exposure, awareness, and reach are the most valuable assets you can have as a salesperson.” – Keenan · [32:00] 

 

Keenan:

Absolutely. What people don’t understand, and I talked about it in my first book, Not Taught, is that exposure and awareness and reach are the most valuable assets you can have. I mean, reach is like gold. It’s like oil.

 

Keenan:

Look, it’s a brilliant example whether we like it or not, but the Jenner twins. Those girls were on a show where they almost never spoke. Okay. Now I haven’t seen the Kardashians in a long, long time. So maybe they moved them into a more prominent role. But in the beginning, back when I watched the show with my daughters and my ex wife, because that’s what they wanted to do. And before what’s her name? Before Bruce Jenner became, I forget who he became. What’s her name?

 

Will Barron:

I know the names, but I’ve never watched it.

 

Keenan:

Carrie or whatever. Before he became, before he changed over, those twins had played no role, but everybody knew who they were. So they had reach, they had exposure. They had millions and millions and millions of people who knew who they were.

 

Keenan:

So once they got older, all they had to do is flip that switch. Just flip it, and then start engaging with those people, talking to those people, doing stuff, sharing their lives. Now Kylie, I think is almost worth a billion dollars.

 

Will Barron:

I think she is. I think she’s one of, if not the youngest female billionaire.

 

Keenan:

Okay. So she got over the hump.

 

Will Barron:

I think so, yeah.

 

Keenan:

How did you do that? Yes. She leveraged that reach and started pushing cosmetics. Now it’s not to say that if she pushed cosmetics that were bad, she’d be able to do it. But the point is she had the reach because it started with exposure. She didn’t have to do anything. She didn’t have to do an act. Just people knew who she was.

 

Keenan:

That’s why I’m emphasising this. I’m leaving her sisters out because her sisters showed personality. They were on the show. They had speaking roles. They could build that. All the twins did, they were just in the background for the first four, five, six, seven years as nobodies. But because they were there and millions of people saw them, they were building reach. Once they decided to flip the switch, it was gone.

 

“Why the average American does not spend time building micro reach, whether it’s only 1000 people, 5000 people, 10,000, is beyond me. Then what they do when they need something, they go on to LinkedIn and say, “Hey, I’ve just been let go. I’m looking for a gig.” Where the fuck have you been the last five years? You wouldn’t have to do this if you had actually built reach.” – Keenan · [34:01] 

 

Keenan:

So why the average American does not spend time building micro reach, whether it’s only 1000 people, 5000 people, 10,000, is beyond me. Beyond me. Then what they do when they need something, they go on to LinkedIn and say, “Hey, I’ve just been let go. I’m looking for a gig.” Where the fuck have you been the last five years? You wouldn’t have to do this if you had actually built reach.

 

Will Barron:

Are you familiar, Keenan, with the concept of 1000 true fans?

 

Keenan:

No.

 

The Concept of 1000 True Fans · [34:25]

 

Will Barron:

So I’m pretty sure his name is Kevin Kelly, he’s the founder. Maybe still, maybe not, the chief editor of Wired Magazine. He’s got a really good article. I’ll link it in the show notes of this episode.

 

Will Barron:

Basically this works for an entrepreneur. It works for perhaps you’re a sales professional in a specific industry and you want to turn that into a consulting gig. Or you want to do speaking, whatever it is. Or one of the examples he uses in this blog post article is a band. All you need is 1000 people, 1000 people who love everything that you do, who will spend a little bit of money with you each year.

 

Will Barron:

Say for the band, they buy the $100 EAP. The record, as opposed to just the digital download. As a consultant, maybe it’s not 1000 people, maybe it’s 100 people, and they all give you $1000 for a day’s work or whatever it is. Whatever people are charging as consultants in their specific niches.

 

Will Barron:

Once you suss out that it’s so few people and you can reach them so easily, it changes paradigms on this. It changed my mindset on all of this for the podcast. It’s just slightly different now what we’re doing, but I knew that if I had 10 companies that would give me 10 grand a year to sponsor the show. So I only had 10 customers to sell to, that was the business. Or the beginnings of the kind of seeds of a business there.

 

Will Barron:

So I read this article, I translated it into that. That’s how I went about everything. I find that the bigger, not necessarily the bigger, the better your relationship, because we kind of poo-pooed relationships at the top of the show. The more value that you can give these individuals, whether they like you or not.

 

Keenan:

Yes, yes, yes.

 

Will Barron:

I’m learning. It is going in, Keenan.

 

Keenan:

The more value you give to these people, the more they’ll pay you. Yes.

 

Will Barron:

The more value you give them in the meantime, the easier they’re going to pay you and work with you in the future. That’s what I was getting at with that. We’re not talking about Kylie Jenner with how many millions or 10s of millions or 100s of millions of followers she’s got an Instagram.

 

Will Barron:

We’re talking about you, perhaps me, as a medical device sales person in leads. I just need to give value to 32 urologists and I will smash my target, do multiple six figures every year and it’s as simple as that.

 

Keenan:

Yes. Yep. You got it.

 

Will Barron:

Good man.

 

Keenan:

That’s it. Yeah.

 

Keenan’s Advise to His Older Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [36:48]

 

Will Barron:

Good. Well, glad I’ve got to kind of tie it altogether there. Well, with that, Keenan, I’ve asked you this question about 47 times now. I’m going to ask you again, just to wrap up the show. That is, if you go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you’d give him to help him become better at selling?

 

Keenan:

Nothing.

 

Will Barron:

You got to give me something to work with here.

 

Keenan:

That’s what I say every single time.

 

Will Barron:

Go back. What would you right now tell if you could, if you could put it in a letter, in a time machine and send it forward, what would you tell your kind of 60 year old self?

 

Keenan:

Oh, I like that one. Remember what got you here. That is, excuse me. That is there are no rules, family and friends matter. That life is too short, too short. By the way, this is messed up. That’s only 10 years from now. Okay.

 

Keenan:

So my 60 year old self, you got to come up with an older year because it’s nine years from now, actually. So that’s not a good one. But here, that puts it in perspective, is as you said it, it seemed in my head like a long way down the road, but it’s really only nine years from now for me.

 

Keenan:

So I won’t forget, but I think that’s why I am happy with the life I’ve lived and where I’ve gotten, is I just have a very youthful, a very high energy life. That just doesn’t make me feel that I’m getting older. It’s moving down the road.

 

Keenan:

I literally forget that I’ll be 51 in April. Forget it. I’ll be reading articles and they’re like that 52 year old man died, or the 60 year old man. I’m like, God, I hope I’m healthy when I get there. I’m like, oh, snap. I’m there. Like, oh my God, I’m almost there. So it’s an interesting perspective that I have myself in. I do not feel that 60 is a million years from now in my head, but it’s really only nine.

 

Parting Thoughts · [39:01]

 

Will Barron:

Good. Well, I could dive into that for another 15 minutes and get your insights for all us young guns who are following in your footsteps, Keenan, but we’ll wrap up with that. Tell us where we can find Gap Selling? Tell us where we can find more about you as well because you put out so much awesome video content. It’s well worth kind of following it and seeing what you’re up to.

 

Keenan:

Thank you, sir. So look, I do a lot of video on LinkedIn. So talking about giving. I just do LinkedIn content, tell people how to handle different sales scenarios, that provides tonnes of value on making you a better salesperson.

 

Keenan:

You can find me on Amazon where you can find Gap Selling on Amazon. I didn’t check the last few days, but it’s been the number one hot new seller on Amazon for almost two and a half months now, which has blown me away. You can also find [email protected], just asalesguy.com.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I’ll link to all that in the show notes of this episode, [email protected]

 

Will Barron:

With that, Keenan, I want to thank you for your time, as always, mate. Next time you’re on, we’ll dive into phase two of the kitchen fitting at my place and the saga that’s going on there. With that, mate, I’ll speak to you again soon on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Keenan:

Awesome, baby. Love coming out here. You’re dope. Appreciate it.

 

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