Trigger Events: The best four types to know for B2B Sales

trigger events

What is a Trigger Event

A trigger event is something that creates buyer awareness concerning opportunity for change or the need for what we sell. Trigger events can occur in the client’s industry, within their company or department, or in their personal career. Trigger events can also occur in the marketplace and can include competitor activity, environmental or economic changes, reputational issues, new regulatory requirements, and more.

It is important to understand that an ‘attribute’ is not the same as a ‘trigger’. Within your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) you will have the attributes of organizations that represent an ideal fit for what you sell. This then informs you concerning what you should seek to monitor in terms of trigger events.

Trigger events are essential within our outreach narrative because they ‘warm-up’ the conversation with context. Referencing a trigger event shows them that we have done some research and that we have ‘relevance’.

Four Types of Trigger Events for Sales

1. Bad experience with incumbent suppliers

The decision maker has a negative experience with a current provider’s product, service or people. Dissatisfaction makes them open to considering other options but the window of opportunity is usually small. Time is of the essence.

2. Role based change

A senior decision maker or influencer leaves our existing customer or someone new joins a target buying organisation. We should follow our supporters to their new employer and also defend our existing account against our competitor doing the same to us with the new person coming in.

Role based changes can be interrelated as the change cascades through an organisation and in the market. Some key examples of role based changes are:

  • Our support leaves and goes to another employer. We have a trusted relationship and
    congratulate the person on their move and ask how we can help them in their new role.
  • Our supporter is replaced by a new external person. We create elevated engagement
    with the new person saying that we were working closely with their predecessor and
    have some idea on how they can get some early wins by extracting more value for our
    existing relationship.
  • That person came from somewhere. As we build a trusted relationship and provide
    value for them in their new role, we ask about their previous employer and how we
    could potentially help them also (if not their competitor). This provides us with
    coaching and a referral.
In the above example we have identified two ‘new logo’ sales opportunities, managed an account
risk (competitor follows new executive into our existing client) and created an upsell or cross-sell
opportunity in an existing account (elevating the level of engagement with the new person)

3. Change in results or strategy

The customer organisation has a significant change in results or announces a change in their strategic direction impacting priorities and operations. These is an appetite for change and desire to explore options for improving results.

4. Operating environment changes

The decision maker becomes aware of the need to change for competitive, risk avoidance, economic, social, legal compliance reasons. There is an opportunity to provide insight and aspire to be a trusted advisor shaping their businesses case for change and influencing their requirements.

Prioritising all trigger events

For B2B sales, the most powerful trigger event is a decision maker change because executives hired into new roles are expected to drive improvement. The next most powerful trigger event is a change in results or strategy because it necessitates change. Competitor dissatisfaction can be alluring but we must ensure their pain or unhappiness is strong enough to sustain the perceived effort and risk of change; never underestimate the power of an incumbent. The weakest trigger events are within the ‘operating environment’ category because there is usually less urgency.

What’s Next?

These events are further explained in Tech Powered sales.

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