Trigger events are a great way to fuel your lead generation efforts. If your sales team doesn't practice using them while prospecting, then you're missing out on opportunities.
Once you know what to look for, identifying trigger events becomes second nature, leading to more revenue for your own business and greater value to your customers.
What Is a Trigger Event?
A trigger event is an event that happens at a prospect’s business and makes your product or service more relevant to them than before.
When a trigger event happens, it’s the ideal time to reach out to your prospect and determine if now is the right time to move forward on a buy.
While nobody will tap you on the shoulder and explicitly tell you about a trigger event, there are ways to find out if a prospect has experienced one. Since they tend to be good news, they are usually announced in ways that are in keeping with the company’s brand strategy.
Bad news can herald a trigger event as well, but decision-makers will tend to be a lot more cautious about making major purchases if things aren’t going well.
Just as importantly, it can be difficult to frame your offer in a way that’s compelling when strategic goals are already at risk.
9 Types of Sales Trigger Events
Since there are so many different specific, little events that can happen that can be considered a trigger, it's easier to learn how to identify the different types of sales trigger events.
Here are the seven most common categories they'll fall under:
Any signs of growth can act as pretty good indicators that there's an opportunity for you. Growth means more revenue available for your product or services. Here are a few key trigger events indicating growth:
- Growth awards
- Expansion to a new location
- The launch of a new product or service
- New job listings
2. Branding Changes
Any changes in branding strategy can be for either positive or negative reasons, and it's up to you as a salesperson to learn which it is. Look for any branding updates like:
- Changes in leadership
- New guideline announcements
- Changes in brand messaging
3. Location Change
Relocation is never done casually. If you hear news of any of the following, then you can likely mark it as a trigger event:
4. Industry Recognition
You should always be on the lookout for the mention of your prospects' names in industry news.
- Growth recognition
- Business anniversaries
- News headlines
5. Change in Ownership
A business changing hands is often a huge trigger event. Depending on the nature of the business, a change in ownership can signify good news or bad news. Look for:
- Industry changes
6. Financial Changes
You won't hear about any financial issues from a prospect before it goes far beyond your scope. However, not every financial change is inherently a bad sign.
Financial changes can take the form of:
- Stock increases or decreases
- New funding
- Missing revenue
7. Legislative Changes
Look for compliance updates or changes early on in areas like consumer privacy or anti-spam laws. Not every trigger event comes directly from your prospects' enterprises. Legislative and regulatory updates can impact both your business and theirs, including opening new opportunities for you to offer value.
Legislative changes can take the form of:
- New regulatory restrictions on business practices
- Loosening of previous restrictions
- Altered safety standards
- Changes to tax burdens
8. Product/Service Changes
In B2B sales, a change in a prospect's product or service lineup can be a major trigger event indication. New products or services can take a long time—and a lot of capital—to develop. If successful, it can help fuel the organization's growth. Meanwhile, consolidations of products can be an indication that a company is reconsidering its current business operations strategy.
Some product or service changes to watch out for include:
- New product/service announcements
- Sunsetting of products/services
- Changes in the pricing models for existing products and services
9. Increased Engagement With Your Marketing
One of the most obvious signs that a prospect might be ready to engage with your sales team is a sudden interest in your marketing materials. If a lead is engaging with your marketing materials, they may have recently experienced a trigger event that makes them more likely to convert into a customer.
With a good customer relationship management (CRM) platform (like HubSpot), this is often the easiest type of trigger to track, too. The CRM will let you know when someone engages with your marketing and sales content.
Some marketing engagement triggers that might interest a sales team include:
- Clicking links across multiple emails
- Downloading content offers (eBooks, whitepapers, etc.)
- Sales meeting requests
- Repeated visits to your product, service, or pricing pages
How to Track Trigger Events
If you know where to look for trigger events, you can be a lot more proactive in qualifying your leads and reaching out to those who may not even realize the magnitude of the value you can provide to them.
Luckily, it’s easy to integrate trigger event tracking into your usual prospect research—if you know where to start.
Use these methods to zoom in on a trigger event:
Skim Trade Magazines.
If a company gets featured in an article from Fortune, Forbes, or a major industry-specific publication, the odds are good that they are on the right track with their business.
Tailor your reading to your prospects’ size, category, and industry so you can get the latest news quickly.
Monitor Social Media.
Established brands often have hashtags associated with them that you can monitor easily with a social media management app. You can also segment your social stream into lists so you can focus on comments from leading decision-makers.
Set Up Google Alerts.
Google Alerts was one of Google’s first services to leverage its search engine prowess and is still one of the best to use. When you set up an alert, you can get a regular digest of the latest online news and results related to a particular company or other topic.
Check Out LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a powerful enough tool for researching and monitoring companies that it deserves special mention separate from other social media platforms.
Via LinkedIn, you can track who is associated with a company, who their connections are, when people start working for or leave the organization, and other relevant information about the business.
Read the Business Section.
Although newspaper circulation is in decline, some major newspapers are still going strong.
If you are based in a major metro area, like New York or Dallas, it can be worthwhile to read the business pages a few times a week. Companies moving in or expanding get column space—which can help you identify companies undergoing a major trigger event.
Run a Search.
Google Alerts are very useful, but they won’t capture everything that happens in an area or at a company. No matter how many established sources you have for your trigger event research, you should never forget a generic search.
You may find news articles, press releases, and videos that may not have appeared in a Google Alert based on different keywords.
Check Out Industry Events.
In the digital marketing era, many companies are drawing down their presence at annual industry events. A smaller number of events are now getting the lion’s share of attendance, so you may be able to do all your research with just a few quick weekend trips every year.
Make Time for Networking.
When you meet someone outside a business context—when no sales or quotas are at issue—you can often get a fuller story out of them than when money is on the line.
Even expert sales and marketing pros should make time to mix it up and make their names known to others.
Follow Up with Existing Customers.
Your current customers can be an endless source of insight if you allow them to be. As a sales pro, you should continue taking an interest in them even after you hand them off to a different team.
Drop a note a month after the sale and every quarter or so thereafter to check in with your customers—they may have undergone another event that makes them ripe for upselling other products or services to them.
Spend Time with Colleagues.
Competition is a part of sales, and not all teams share every bit of information they come across. By taking time to talk to others and ask them what they’ve heard lately, you may give them the chance to offer you a terrific lead they simply can’t follow up on at the moment.
Check the Website.
A company’s “About” page is usually the most boring part of its website. Why? Because it’s all about them, not about the needs of their customers.
That makes it perfect for your needs, however. Also check out recent blog posts, where awards and other kudos are sure to be shared.
Look for Press Releases.
In theory, press releases are intended to attract media coverage. These days, they rarely make a big impact, but many companies still release them occasionally just in case. This is a great way to hone your online searches since it reflects exactly what a company wants others to know about them.
Read Quarterly and Annual Reports.
Fortune 500 companies and other major enterprises strive to release investor-facing reports with a big splash. While most of the information is highly technical, there’s usually an executive summary at the beginning that lays out near-term and strategic goals.
Listen In On Investor Calls.
Investor calls are usually led by the CEO with input from other members of the C-suite.
Though they often spin recent events in the most positive light possible, each call tends to include several big wins and emerging opportunities you can help prospects act on.
Look for Funding Changes.
Sites like Wellfound (formerly AngelList) can help you keep your eye on the funding landscape for your prospects.
In general, companies that are seeking funding want to make moves to improve their operations and valuation, while those who just received funding are flush with cash for new strategic purchases.
A Process For Handing Sales Trigger Events
Once you've mastered identifying and finding sales trigger events, you'll be able to leverage them to your advantage. One of the key benefits of them is that they can perfect your timing.
Here's an easy-to-follow process on how to use sales trigger events for lead generation:
1. Review Your Most Recent Sales.
You'll want to review your most recent sales and look for patterns and common events that occur in your successful customers.
It's alright if you can't find any commonalities. There are other means of learning about your recent customers, like a survey where you can ask what prompted (or triggered) them to purchase from you.
2. Identify Trigger Events.
The information you'll collect from your review will help you learn about which trigger events help you convert prospects. List all of the relevant events that you can find and bring your sales team up to speed.
3. Create a Pursuit Plan.
Once you've created a prioritized list of trigger events, you'll need a plan of action for when one of them comes to pass.
Define how you'll want to pursue prospects by coming up with a plan of identifying a point of contact, how often you'll follow up, and which prospecting techniques you'll want to follow.
Having a plan in place will help make your prospecting more efficient and run a bit smoother. You'll be able to update your CRM and workflows to work in tandem with trigger events.
When the time comes, you'll want to act quickly.
For example, let's say you receive notice from a prospect or existing client that your point of contact is leaving the company. Their change usually comes with a demand for you to pivot your strategy.
You'll want to learn who the new point of contact will be, add them to your CRM, and make sure that their company is still interested in doing business with you.
While you continue pursuing the original prospect, you've also just had a new opportunity opened to you.
Reach out to the former POC and maintain your relationship with them. If they've started a new position, congratulate them! Let them know that you're still excited about providing value to them and their new company. They can easily act as the bridge to you earning a new customer.
With these tips, it’ll be easier than ever to find the trigger event that could start a lucrative, long-lasting partnership. Keep your eyes open, be consistent, and always follow up!