Even if you’ve managed to focus on the critical issues that matter most to your prospects, profiled and targeted your ideal customers and identified and engaged your most promising potential change agents, there’s still a very real possibility that you won’t actually create as many short-term opportunities as you might hope.
It turns out that even your best-qualified targets are simply not in an active buying cycle most of the time. Sure, they may download your collateral and form a favourable opinion of your capabilities. But until and unless something happens to challenge the status quo, they are likely to remain passive consumers.
That’s why trigger events are so important: they cause your prospects to take a fresh perspective. They cause them to realise that their current situation may not get them where they now recognise they need to be. They cause them to acknowledge that they may have to change their behaviour…
CATALYSTS FOR CHANGE
Trigger events act as catalysts for change. So if we can work out which trigger events most commonly impact affect our prospects, if we can monitor them in close to real time, and if we can take steps to either create a trigger event or draw the attention of our prospects to the implications of an existing one, it stands to reason that we should be able to identify more well-qualified opportunities.
I’ve written recently about the need to distinguish between irritating, important and critical issues. It’s the critical issues that really drive purchasing intent: they give our prospects no choice - they simply have to change.
COMMON TRIGGER EVENTS
Trigger events can come from within the organisation or from the environment at large. Some of the best examples of internal trigger events include:
- A change in executive management
- A new corporate initiative, or a change in strategy or priorities
- Rapid expansion in headcount or geographical coverage
- The launch of a new and strategically important product or service
- A new funding round, or a new acquisition
But the catalyst for change can also come from outside the organisation. Some of the best examples of external trigger events include:
- New regulation or legislation
- A dramatic change in the competitive landscape
- Significant changes in the economic outlook
- The emergence of other new market forces
Whether internal or external, these trigger events are likely to cause an otherwise well-qualified but passive target organisation to move into a much more active buying mode.
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPLICATIONS
They are likely, for example, to seek to understand the implications of the recent change. They are likely to reconsider their existing strategies and tactics. They may be forced to re-evaluate their existing systems and methods.
They are likely to research and investigate potential solutions. They will probably want to better understand how their peers and competitors have reacted to similar situations. They may well come to the conclusion that they can no longer afford to stick with the status quo.
This represents a critical window of opportunity. If we can engage them while the issue is fresh, while we can still influence their vision of a solution, we put ourselves in a tremendously advantageous position. By getting involved early, we can establish a significant and potentially lasting lead over our competition.
LEARNING FROM OUR CUSTOMERS
So how can get into this position of early influence more often? We can start by going back over our previous wins and interviewing our customers. What caused them to start searching for a solution in the first place? What did they think they were looking for? How did they find us? And what can we do to engage early with similar organisations that find themselves in a similar situation?
What can we do to uncover the evidence that a trigger event has taken place as early as possible? How might we monitor these trigger events? And what can we do to draw a prospect’s attention to the implications of a trigger event even before they had started to consider them?
When it comes to trigger events, as with so much else in successful selling, it’s often the early bird that gets the worm. If we can anticipate, monitor and engage our prospects while the trigger event is still fresh, we give ourselves the best possible chance of winning their business.
So - what significant trigger events are driving YOUR prospect’s change agenda?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Apollo is a Fellow of the Association of Professional Sales and the Founder of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, home of the Value Selling System®. Following a successful career spanning start-ups, scale-ups and mature corporates, Bob now works with a growing client base of tech-based growth-phase businesses, equipping and enabling them to systematically create and capture mutually meaningful value in every customer interaction.