The Case Against Trigger Events

Last week, the guys from OneSource showed me their new product, iSell. It is a Sales 2.0 enablement tool that rolls up information from a massive number of sources  in a very meaningful way and with a super slick interface. Whenever they release iSell, it is worth checking out.

Disclosure 1: I don’t have any relationship with OneSource.

Part of the setup of their tool includes a gigantic and customizable list of triggers. For the demo, they chose all of the triggers. When I complained that I am not a “trigger event” guy, they showed me how I could specifically limit the triggers to what is meaningful.

Disclosure 2: My Google Alerts are second to none. I have lists of companies and people, and I have them all rolled up to my Google Reader. If something happens, I want to know. Most of what I receive is meaningless, but it occasionally provides some seriously meaningful business intelligence.

With all that said, there is a case to be made against trigger events, especially the tendency to believe that events present the best opportunity to prospect.

It Is Better to Already Have Built Deep Relationships

The events that salespeople look for as triggers include company personnel changes, company contract awards, and the company obtaining financing. There are lots of other triggers, but these are top of the list.

When events occur that might trigger a deal for you and your company, it is far better to have already built deep relationships within the company, to have built an understanding of how the event will impact them, and to have a specific idea of how you can help them capitalize on the event or minimize it’s impact.

You need to have already done your homework. It isn’t enough to show up with all of the other opportunists who received the same alert. Calling because you were notified of an event is anti-differentiation; this makes you one of the crowd.

It Is Better Not to Wait for Events

Most of the time, the events that we might call triggers are meaningless. They are mostly irrelevant and mostly they are not useful. This means they aren’t worth waiting for.

You know who your dream clients are. You know that they have long and deep relationships with your competitor. You know that spend a lot of money on your product or service. This is part of what makes them your dream client.

You also know that these are the hardest prospects to penetrate and the hardest to win. It is a rare trigger that undoes these relationships. Not that a new decision-maker with the desire to shake things up and make a name for herself will never show up, but it is far better to pursue these dream clients all of the time, regardless of triggers.

Pursuing these dream clients full time helps you to develop the relationships that make you look like more than an opportunist when events do occur. It also helps you build your own network of relationships, relationships that will alert you to the real trigger event.

The Real Trigger is Always Dissatisfaction

The main reason it is better to build and nurture relationships throughout your dream client’s company and to start selling without waiting for triggers is because the most important factor has no trigger. The real trigger for sales is dissatisfaction.

Dissatisfaction isn’t often something that happens as a single event, least of all one that can be captured and recorded from public information. Dissatisfaction is something that develops over time. It bubbles up within the organization when commitments aren’t met and when the product or service stops meeting their needs.

The most powerful trigger for discovering dissatisfaction is having conversations with people within the dream client’s company. The most powerful trigger is still the sales call. It is having access to the people who are dissatisfied and having access to the information that will allow you to help them move from dissatisfied to something better.

When and if there is a trigger event worth noting, it pays to have built these relationships. It pays to have spent your time selling within the organization while others waited for triggers. And it pays to have already uncovered the dissatisfaction that is the real trigger event.

Conclusion

It is important to monitor events within your client companies and your dream client companies. But, by itself, triggers are not enough. They make you look like an opportunist, and it is better to have built relationships, spent time within the organization, and to have a real understanding of their dissatisfaction.

Note 1: There is no reason not have triggers set up on your clients and dream clients. Going without business intelligence is stupid!

Note 2: I don’t believe that any of my friends who love trigger events will disagree with my admonition to sell with or without events. But I am fully prepared for them to take me to the proverbial woodshed in the comments. Have at it, gents.

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    The Case Against Trigger Events…

    It is important to monitor events within your client companies and your dream client companies. But, by itself, triggers are not enough. They make you look like an opportunist, and it is better to have built relationships, spent time within the organiz…

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  4. […] able to search for them and read something somewhere, it may be too late.  See this 2010 post by Anthony Iannarino to add perspective from both sides of the fence (read the comments, too).  Still, since not […]