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Can Quiet Sellers Gap Sell?

Reggie Stjernholm
May 7, 2021

The phrase quiet sellers may seem like a bit of an oxymoron to any of you who have been in the sales game for a while. But, quiet sellers can be super effective. Here’s why:

As Gap Selling has crossed the milestone of 50,000 copies sold, we are highlighting some of our favorite books to compliment your Gap Selling journey.


Our 3rd book recommendation? Quiet!!


To start…you may be wondering why the heck would I put Quiet and anything “Keenan” in the same discussion? These two words have probably never been shelved together, until now. With Keenan’s energy, clear extroversion, and boldness, he’s not afraid to yell and cuss on LinkedIn Live.


Yet! I still believe if Gap Selling is on your bookshelf, Keenan is on your playlist, or you consider yourself a quiet seller – Quiet is another great one to add to your collection. I hope you find they compliment each other well. In fact, if you haven’t read Gap Selling yet, I would recommend starting by reading Quiet as a meditation before the motivation and Red Bull energy of Keenan takes over. (not a sponsored post…)




Chapter 5 of Gap Selling starts with: “Ok, people, you’ve heard it your whole career: People buy from people they like. I call bullshit. And if you want to gap sell, you will too. It might not be a surprise to learn that of all the controversial things I’ve ever said in public, that’s the one that’s gotten the most pushback. Still, I stand by it. Stay with me here. I’ll have you agreeing with me over the next few pages.”


Keenan said it well in this video. As a guest on The Salesman Podcast, Keenan discusses that buyers are interested in the ”value” of the sale, not the “likeability” of the salesperson. Keenan says, “If they like you and there is value, they are gonna buy…but if they like you, but there is no value…they don’t buy. I’m not buying you.”


One of ASG’s most popular, and controversial, blog topics debunks the popular Sales Myth of “People Buy from People They Like.”


In Gap Selling Online Training Keenan debunks this myth head-on! It’s an important topic at the heart of Gap Selling. Here he states very clearly again, “You Do not Need to be Liked to Sell,” and the relationship is solely based on Credibility (as opposed to “likeability”) and the Value of the product or service. The most important thing is whether there is a Gap and if your product/service can bridge that gap.

Sales Myths - Likability Matrix


Where did this myth come from? The popular book, Quiet, by Susan Cain, argues that this notion of not being liked, popular, extroverted, overly confident, or the life of the party, being Achilles heel for salespeople, can be attributed heavily to the time when Carnegie grew up and successfully “self-helped” the world into being extroverted.


Did you know that Dale Carnegie changed his name? “Carnagey actually; he changes the spelling later, likely to evoke Andrew, the great industrialist.” If you’ve watched the Gap Sell Keenans, you will know that “likeability,” and “showmanship” aren’t the heart of what sells a product or service in today’s modern world.


Through Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Cain crafts a well-thought-out and data-driven theory that, while introverts or quiet sellers aren’t as common in the business world (and sales profession), they can be the most successful leaders and followers in any business setting and beyond. She argues that personality became the most important aspect of selling and business, popularized by self-help books, like Dale Carnegie’s, in the 1920s. She states “Americans became salesmen who could sell not only their companies latest gismo but also themselves.” (pg 22) And this ever-popular myth haunts us in ASG Facebook comments to this day. 


Self-help books in the roaring 20’s “changed from inner virtue to outer charm,” and favoring not the “deep thinker, but a hearty extrovert with a salesman’s personality.” During this time, “the number of American’s who considered themselves shy, increased from 40% in the 1970s to 50% in the 1990s.” “Social Anxiety disorder – which essentially means pathological shyness – is now thought to affect nearly 1 in 5 of us”.


As Cain questions throughout the book, as does Gap Selling, “How did we go from character to personality, without realizing that we had sacrificed something meaningful along the way?” I would argue that Keenan also points this out when he demystifies the modern salesperson as not just a personality with a smile and excitement, but a deep thinker, and a better listener who asks good trustworthy questions.


Cain points out in the early pages that “If Abraham Lincoln was the embodiment of virtue during the culture of character, then Tony Robbins is his counterpart during the culture of personality.” Your personality has little to do with how well you sell.


In this LinkedIn video, Keenan breaks down why he calls bullshit on salespeople needing to be extroverts. 




Introverts, quiet sellers, and those that may not be the ones to speak up first, don’t need change or chameleon to act like Keenan. Instead, introverts can use their quiet listening skills to gap sell well and sell confidently, addressing the problem(s) their product or service solves. Cain points out that “Peer pressure…is not only unpleasant but can change your view of the problem.” If that happens, their ability to Gap Sell is very low. 


Good News! If you find yourself more on the Quiet side, successfully Gap Selling isn’t just an extrovert’s game. As long as you can dig, listen, find the problem, and lead the prospect to water, you can Gap Sell, and should sell better based on character & credibility, rather than personality & likeability. Also read Quiet, because I only scratched the surface. Enjoy!





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