Leveraging Trigger Events to Take the Pain out of Prospecting
In a recent post, I talked about ways to find ideal prospects. Once you’ve identified the profile of your likely buyers, you could start cold calling them to gauge interest and get them on your mailing lists, but that takes time and promises little yield. A more effective approach is to know situations or circumstances that precipitate buying among your current clients and then target ideal prospects in similar straits.
Trigger events are leading indicators from prospective companies that might signal a need for your products, services, or solutions. Knowing these trigger events and how to track them can give you a first-mover advantage and a much better shot at engaging a prospect who is ready to buy.
What is a trigger event? When an organization issues a press release announcing that they have secured financing to fund the expansion of a new facility near you, this indicates that they have money and have set an expectation to make a significant investment. Growing companies need to buy lots of products and services — from construction services to IT hardware to janitorial services. Follow the money!
Another factor to know (especially for professional services providers) is where and how you fit into the ecosystem of solution providers and if there are other solutions that are leading indicators of an eventual need for your services. For example, in our business, a company that launches a new product will eventually need sales training. So, we network with marketing and brand strategy agencies that are usually involved at earlier stages with clients doing market research, go-to-market strategies, product marketing and communications, and graphic design.
You can try to formalize these relationships into partnerships or alliances in which you share leads and earn a cut of a sale. These alliances can work, but they often fail because the relationship is often actually between individuals within the partnering organizations. When they are focused, times are good. But when one party gets too busy, distracted, or leaves their company, the partnership suffers and often fades away. If you want such an alliance to work, ensure that it gets embedded into your organization beyond a single point of contact.
Google enables you to set up “alerts” that will send automated e-mail notifications for keyword-based trigger events that you specify. For example, if you sell marketing solutions, a good trigger event to track might be new marketing VPs. When companies hire or promote new marketing VPs, they will often issue an announcement or a press release, which will get picked up by Google. If your alert is set properly, you will receive an e-mail notification, which you can then use as an opportunity to get in touch to congratulate the VP and offer your services.
It is also helpful to follow your prospective companies on LinkedIn, which also serves as a news aggregator for the company. Following companies and prospects is also a great feature of Twitter.
As a sales leader, the final step is to train your sales managers and sales reps on how to spot and follow up on trigger events among your ideal prospects. Once you set your mind to the task, it probably won’t be difficult to identify the trigger events in prospective companies that can help your sales. The more challenging aspect is the ability to know about them when they occur and to follow up before your competition or before the opportunity slips away.
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