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Use Trigger Events to Boost Your Sales

The best way to increase your conversion rate when building your pipeline is to do a better job of pre-qualifying your sales leads. While there are dozens of online tools that give you contact information for people with job titles and industries that match profile, in most cases you have little or no idea whether or not those individuals are presently ready to buy what you're selling.

That's why trigger events are so important. They allow you to winnow down your list of potential customers to the ones who, for real-life business reasons, are most likely to need what you've got. There are four types of trigger events:

  • Changes in the executive staff. Executives are typically hired to make a difference. Since executive tenure tends to be short, they want to make their mark fast. They therefore need to buy solutions and services in order to make that happen. That opens an opportunity to sell, because it is easier for the new management to change suppliers because they can say that a previously poor, choice was someone else's decision.
  • Changes in funding. Companies with new funding are more likely to buy many services, than comparable companies that haven't had a similar funding event. Funding is meant to drive growth, which means purchasing new solutions and services to help with sales, marketing, product development, operations, and so forth. Many times companies and organizations actually struggle to spend new money quickly in order to show that they're doing everything possible to become successful.
  • New product launches. New products create demand for supporting products and services that can fuel sales growth for the new product. The launch of a new product requires companies to purchase marketing services, sales training, e-commerce and so forth. Also, new products often spawn the departure of personnel and other changes, as people move onto newer projects. Product launches therefore create secondary trigger events, such as new funding and executive departures.
  • Mergers and acquisitions. Corporate acquisitions, by their very nature, involve changes in executive roles which often ripple throughout the entire organization. They also involve changes in funding, with some groups doing better under the new regime, and some doing worse. Like any other major organizational change, a merger creates multiple trigger events, each of which can be leveraged into a sales opportunity.
From the perspective of a sales professional, the best point to become involved is when one of these trigger events creates a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo. This allows you to guide the prospect towards the solution that you have to offer, without having to overcome pre-conceived notions of how the problem should be solved.

How do you discover trigger events? There are two methods: free and paid.

To find trigger event for free, go into Google Alerts and set up terms like "product launch" connected to the companies that you cover in your territory. You can also search LinkedIn to follow changes in executive staffing. Yeah, there's some busywork involved but, hey, what do you expect for free?

If you want to find trigger events more automatically, there are a number of CRM add-on packages. For example, iSell from the software vendor OneSource, not only informs you of the trigger event but also provides context, such as whether you've sold to this company in the past, and additional information about the industry, the prospect's competitors, and so forth.

NOTE: This post is based on a conversation with Craig Elias, author of the excellent book SHIFT!