What’s the BIG Deal About “Trigger Events”?


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Research shows that the average sales person is five times more likely to make a sale when they have the right timing.

Buying Modes
To master timing you need to understand that, no matter what you sell or to whom, buyers are always in one of three Buying Modes:

  1. Status Quo: Status Quo is when a buyer perceives the product or service they are currently using meets, or exceeds, their needs.
  2. Window of Dissatisfaction: A Window of Dissatisfaction occurs after a buyer realizes that their current solution no longer meets their needs but before they start the process of searching for alternative solutions.
  3. Searching for Alternatives: Searching for Alternatives is when a buyer realizes their current solution no longer meets their needs and is actively searching for alternative solutions.

Timing – getting in front of the right buyers at exactly the right time – is getting in front of buyers in the Window of Dissatisfaction before your competition. By being first with these motivated buyers you will sell more, sell sooner, and sell at a higher price.

Trigger Events
Buyers typically move from the buying mode of Status Quo into the Window of Dissatisfaction because of a trigger event, or a series of trigger events – aka selling triggers. Knowing when trigger events happen is one way to make timing happen.

Trigger events that shift buyers from Status Quo into the Window of Dissatisfaction fall into one of three different categories:

  1. Bad Experience: A buyer has a bad experience with their current supplier, e.g. the company, its products/services, or its people.
  2. Transition: A change or transition within a buyer’s environment, e.g. a change in legislation, management’s priorities, or the buyer who purchases your products or services.
  3. Awareness: Buyers, through word of mouth, become aware there is a better way.

Trigger Events and Prices
It is important to understand the impact that trigger events have on prices. As a rule, buyers pay for perceived value and a buyer’s perception of value shifts as trigger events move them from one buying mode to another.

When a buyer is in the Status Quo mode, their perception of value is the difference between their current solution and your proposed solution. Because their perception of their current solution is so high, their perception of the difference in value between their current solution and your proposed solution is not enough to motivate them to buy from you. By trying to sell to buyers in Status Quo you are likely to spend a lot of time selling with little or no chance of actually making a sale.

When a trigger event happens that causes a buyer to believe that their current solution no longer meets their needs, they move into the Window of Dissatisfaction, and their perception of the value of their current solution is reduced. Now their perception of the difference between the value of their current solution and your proposed solution increases to the point where you are much more likely to make a sale. By selling to buyers who are in the Window of Dissatisfaction, not only are you more likely to make a sale, you are also likely to have a shorter sales cycle, and when you win the business it’s likely to be at a much higher price.

If they are not intercepted by a savvy sales person, another trigger event or a series of trigger events will cause a buyer to become so dissatisfied with their current solution that they pass through the Window of Dissatisfaction and start Searching for Alternatives. Now a buyer’s perception of the value of your proposed solution is reduced to the difference between your proposed solution and the solution proposed by your nearest competitor. By trying to sell to buyers who are Searching for Alternatives you are less likely to make the sale and IF you win the business, you are likely to have a much longer sales cycle and a much lower price.

Craig Elias
Craig Elias is the creator of Trigger Event Selling™, author of the award-winning sales book "SHiFT! Harness the Trigger Events that TURN PROSPECTS INTO CUSTOMERS" , contributing author to #1 best seller Masters of Sales, and chief catalyst at Shift Selling, Inc. Craig has used timing strategies to be a top sales performer at every company he has worked for—including WorldCom, where he was named the top salesperson within six months of joining the company.


  1. It is important to first know who triggers the trigger events, then how to trigger effective trigger events, if trigger events are that important.

    Can trigger events be emotional? Or are they mostly rational?

    Should firms be more proactive in creating emotional/rational trigger events instead of waiting for the right buying mode to happen?

    What’s the difference between touchpoint and trigger event?

    Daryl Choy
    Make Little Things Count


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