Most of us don’t like change. It tends to unsettle us, particularly if a situation changes abruptly. But as a sales person, change can often mean a short-notice sales opportunity – a nice bluebird for your pipeline. In the B2B world, these are typically known as ‘trigger events’ (which you may have noticed I talked about in my last blog post), a sub-set of sales intelligence. Essentially, these are real time changes in a social, economic or business context that can have an immediate impact on your marketing, selling or customer service interactions.
For example, if you’re selling B2B services such as executive coaching, and a client announces a major restructuring of its business or appoints new senior executives, these events trigger an opportunity for your company’s services. It may trigger a prospect to contact you or trigger an opportunity for you to make contact in a particular context, but the result is the same: opportunity.
But do triggers actually work when it comes to overall sales strategy and performance? The short answer is ‘yes’. Let me give you three reasons why (Tweet this).
- First, we all know that B2B buyers hold more power, more insight and more control over the buying process than ever before, thanks to the contemporary, 24/7 data-driven culture we live and work in. As sales people, we are expected to ‘know’ our customers and prospects, and anticipate their needs, behaviours and requirements. Aberdeen Group recently studied the effectiveness of trigger events. They found that 63 per cent of Best-in-Class firms currently deploy formal trigger event tools (Tweet this) (e.g. notifications, RSS feeds, alerts, posting/tagging updates etc) to their front line sellers, and as a result close more business, have increased customer loyalty, better sales forecasting prowess, and a higher percentage of individual success among sales team members.
- Second, trigger events can help you align your sales intelligence with sales stage advancement. Trigger-event users are more in tune with the daily and real-time fluctuations of their markets, and therefore more able to define sales stages and deal advancements with far more data-driven accuracy.
- Finally, it helps your timing. We all know that when sales and marketing teams are aligned they are more able to determine when a prospect should be passed on to sales and treated as a ‘hot lead’. Trigger events help you augment this approach to help determine the best next step for prospect engagement. It also helps you outsmart your competition. Aberdeen Group found that trigger-event users are 77 per cent more likely to provide competitive intelligence to their front line sellers (Tweet this). In other words, the faster you know about a competitor’s weakness or new tactic, the faster you can capitalise on it.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that triggers are used in isolation. You obviously need to build relationships with customers and engage with them in a sustained and personalised way. But when it comes to the wider sales process, the fundamental goal of sales is to better understand, anticipate and engage effectively with customers. Trigger-events are just one small, but influential part of the broader orchestration of this process. Ask yourself what was the last trigger-event you were able to capitalise on with a customer? (Tweet this) If you can’t think of one, chances are it passed you by unnoticed.
I’ll be posting regular content on modern selling techniques so please stay tuned for more updates. I’d also love to hear from you, what’s your opinion on this topic? Let me know in the comments sections below or send me a Tweet @kevinkimber.
For more information on this topic take a look at this research from Aberdeen Group.
UKI Managing Director, Cloud & Line of Business, SAP