In celebration of over 50,000 copies of Gap Selling sold, I wanted to take a moment and highlight other books that influenced my perception or help expand on concepts within Gap Selling. Reading Gap Selling is a start to changing the way we sell, but the truth is, it is a sophisticated and inherently difficult sales approach. So with this in mind, the first book I recommend reading to continue your Gap Selling journey is my personal favorite sales book…
Now, my favorite all-time sales book isn’t really a sales book. It’s a book on execution.
And funny, it’s aptly called, Execution.
How is that a book on execution has become my favorite sales book? It doesn’t address topics like closing or overcoming objections or prospecting or email writing. Shit, when it was written in 2002, LinkedIn wasn’t a thing, there was no “social” selling, and your sales stack was the yellow-pages.
So what makes execution a sales book?
It’s all about solving problems.
You see, execution is the hardest part of success. Ideas are important, the strategy is important, but if you don’t know how you’re getting to get done, what you want to get done, the rest doesn’t matter.
The book Execution is about solving the challenges that come with executing, big and difficult projects. Execution is about asking “how.” How are you going to integrate these two giant organizations? How are you going to roll out the new marketing campaign across 4 continents with 17 different languages? How are you going to innovate on a new product on a new product every year cycle? How are you going to accelerate sales by 25% year over year for 5 years?
What Execution does is push you to answer those questions at a granular level. It makes you break down a problem, by the people, the tools, and the resources available to you to actually be able to execute and that’s why I think it’s a great sales book.
Being a Gap Seller and a great salesperson requires someone to be able to dissect an environment to its core root and simplify what’s happening.
This type of thinking doesn’t rest in traditional selling methods or sales training.
Much of sales training promotes “process” and the process of moving things forward. Think, MEDDIC or BANT, etc. Are we talking to the right person? Does the company have the budget? Do we know the decision criteria? Do we understand the buying process, etc? What’s missing is how to break down a problem in a way to understand how it’s affecting the customer, the impact it’s having on them/the company, AND what’s causing it.
The ability to take a problem-centric approach to the sales process is powerful.
Being able to know what questions to ask when in order to uncover root cause problems, the ability to diagnose clear and definable business problems, and the ability to see how those problems impact the organization is a rare skill. But, a powerful skill in sales if you develop it.
If you want to develop a different skillset in your sales game, go get Execution. It is outdated, and many of the business and company references are old and tired, but the underlying approach and insights are excellent for today’s salesperson.
Execution has played a major role in my ability to see problems from the vantage point of execution, which lends itself to being able to ask powerful discovery questions and break down a problem in a way that gets buyers to see their purchasing process completely different.
Side note: In Execution, Larry Bossidy (the author) talks about how cheap money was at the time and how over-leveraged many companies and people were and states that he’s concerned about that. See if you can see that. Remember, he published the book in 2002, 6 years before the Great Recession. He, for all intents and purposes, predicts it. See if you can find it. It’s powerful.