Take Sales Initiative: Understanding Trigger Events


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You know one of the words universally associated with success that we don’t hear enough? Initiative. Merriam-Webster likes to describe this word, firstly (and probably most succinctly) as the introductory step. That’s it. So simple, that it’s often lost in a haze of other important ToDo’s.

Now, one of the great tricks with initiative is having a plan or goal thereafter. That next step. Lewis Carroll’s famous quote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there,” springs immediately to mind. But I prefer to proceed with another piece of wisdom, thanks Stephen Covey and your 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, “Begin with the end in mind.”
On social media this “end” can often be building business relationships that stick — and provide mutual benefit. Some call this “value-add.” It can often lead to new business, especially in a sales context. All, thanks to a little initiative toward paying attention to trigger events.

What is a trigger event?

The simple definition: An event that precipitates other events. In sales, these trigger situations are opportunities to make a connection in a timely way that hit a relationship inflection point, and increase likelihood of a sale. Think of this as investing time at the right time to create opportunity.
Why are they important?

Trigger events are times to initiate relevant content and conversations. The key to graceful relationship building is to approach when there’s relevance — not a disjointed scenario of random
marketing messages that will cause an “emotional unsubscribe” (aka EmoUnsub). These EmoUnsub’s happen when prospects see a weakly attempted connection that’s not informed by relevance. It seems phony, it seems sloppy, or it just seems like noise. People simply tune out.

When you approach someone in light of a trigger event, you eliminate a lot of uncertainty. Largely this is because the trigger event is personal… To them. Repeat: Personal to the other. Not you. Not your agenda. Not your “push” or your timeline. Not Yet.

Better still, you know what the person is likely to respond to, and you can focus in on their immediate needs. It’s easier for you to ask the right questions, and to set your discussions to how your company can help them — in real time, right when they are (most importantly) open to engaging.

It’s the ideal time to demonstrate value, and even educate on issues that they may not be aware of. Some of you may be familiar with Challenger Sale methodology, where one of the goals is to get a prospect to say: “I never thought of it that way.”

For example…

Where might I look for be a trigger event, you might be asking? Good question, long series of answers… A few dead-obvious examples: A company announces a new funding. They have an evident budget and need for growth. While this may translate firstly into headcount, it can also signal need for services like: sales training, product packaging and graphic design, rebranding, product marketing materials, content and social media campaigns, just to name a few.

Other common trigger events:

new product
news article / quotes
new building
regulatory change
new legislation
new CEO
new owner
stock swing up or down
analyst opinions change up or down
rapid growth feature story
upcoming industry event

There are far more “Signals of Intent” that are also triggers, that happen on a more ongoing or immediately random basis. Here are some to look for:

asking questions about what you do or sell
asking for help with something in your area of expertise
complaining about products or services like yours
explicitly talking about looking to purchase products/services like yours
discussing topics and issues in your field

First Step: Check their Social Profile

Look over who/what you share in common, and check their social stream for possible trigger events. Then you can make decisions about how to keep in touch, and what to say.

Benefits accrue.

During transitions, you are also much more likely to catch the ear of a decision maker as they deal with change. You are in a position to help them decide to take action move forward successfully. They will be less resistant to changing from the status quo, because change is inevitable in any case.

In short, uncovering and leveraging trigger events shortens the time from first contact to sale because you are interacting when change is happening and services are needed. You can present the benefits of yourself, your company, or your product(s) in concrete terms, with real metrics.

Trigger Events = Golden Opportunities

Remember, trigger events are just better-qualified opportunities to deepen and nurture your relationship in a giving way. Be generous, give freely. Build trust. Then you will be in a better position to ask the right questions, demonstrate your value, and move ably on opportunities. As always in sales, it’s about the relationships.

Alyson Stone
Alyson Stone is Content Director for Pipeliner CRM, a sales pipeline management tool built by salespeople for salespeople.


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