It's an increasingly important question, for two reasons: firstly, the latest studies confirm a trend which has been apparent for a number of years - that prospective B2B buyers are using the internet and their circle of connections to do much more research before they are ready to approach potential vendors. The balance of information power has unquestionably shifted in favour of the buyer.
Second, in the current economic climate, we're seeing B2B buyers shy away from anything that might be seen to be a potentially risky decision. If they cannot be convinced otherwise, a growing number are inclined to believe that the safest thing is to "decide to do nothing".
Faced with these two trends, vendors have to focus - on connecting with prospects who have issues they cannot afford not to deal with, and for which they have a demonstrably superior solution - and then they need to ensure that they emerge as the lowest risk of all available options - including that of simply preserving the status quo.
But careful qualification isn't enough - vendors also need to execute impeccably in facilitating the prospect's buying process - and to influence the way the prospect looks at the issue that caused them to start searching for a solution in the first place.
Persuading the prospect to think differently - to embrace a new perspective - is one of the key factors in creating a potentially winning environment. Sales people who successfully pull this off are able to achieve the much sought-after "trusted adviser" status. But timing is critical - they need to shape the prospect's view of the world before they formalise their needs and priorities.
That's where trigger-nometry is so important. The time during which a prospect evolves from being unaware or unconcerned to recognising they have an issue that they need to deal with is a critical stage in the whole process of buying.
Vendors need to understand and anticipate the trigger events that catalyse this transition. These trigger events can be external (things that happen in the market) or internal (things that happen within the prospect's organisation) but they represent the time during which the prospect's perspectives are at their most pliable.
Vendors who only get involved in deals after the prospect has crystallised their view of what they need, and what they should be looking for, start with an obvious disadvantage - whereas vendors who are visible at the time of the trigger event, or who can help create a trigger event, are in pole position to shape the buying agenda.
How can sales and marketing organisations improve their trigger-nometry? By observing the key forces that are shaping their target markets. By tracking key changes within their prospects. And by ensuring they have a relevant and potentially provocative perspective on how the prospect might respond to these issues.