July 26

How to Use Trigger Events for More and Better Leads

Lead Generation


People aren’t ready to buy when we want to sell. Think about it.

This common statement has big implications if you’re doing account-based marketing (ABM) and lead generation.

Why doing more lead generation activity doesn’t help generate more sales

CEB discovered that a typical for B2B customer is 57% into their purchase process before they directly engage a sales rep or talk to a supplier.

Marketers often believe they solve the issue of clients being further in their purchase process by driving more early-stage leads to sales. Unfortunately, I’ve learned this does little to help sales people because they get stuck. The question for sales often becomes, “How can I progress this relationship when there isn’t a motivation or felt need?”

What are trigger events and why do they matter?

In all my experience working with complex sales, I’ve not seen a customer buy without a trigger event driving their motivation.

In my book, I define a trigger event happening associated with a consequence so significant that it causes new behaviors, ideas, and new sales opportunities.

Trigger events aren’t new, but I haven’t seen many people use them or fully appreciate their value.

Every company will have some trigger events that matter more than others because of what they sell solves various problems and addresses different motivations.

Trigger events helped this company increase sales conversions by 400%

For example, a SaaS company I worked with that sold product management software and discovered a trigger event was when a CEO started publicly talking about innovation. They tracked companies where a CEO spoke publicly about “improving innovation” or “being more innovative” in annual reports, investor/analyst calls, and other mentions. Those companies had a 400% higher probability of buying their software than businesses that didn’t.

This company provided free tools, resources, and guides that helped the people who would likely have the most pressure to improve innovation. This approach helped their lead generation get more and better leads. Why? Because their account based marketing focused where there was already momentum and a likely motivation for change.

The physics trigger events for lead generation and Account Based Marketing

Hang with me here, and you’ll see the connection I promise. Newton’s first law of motion – also called the law of inertia – is often stated as “an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to remain in motion with the same speed and the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

The physics work similarly in the account based marketing and the buying process. Trigger events serve as an unbalancing force. They cause momentum to shift and change. This point is hugely important because the main reasons people don’t buy is because of the status quo. And sometimes when they’re moving, the momentum is going in the opposite direction you want. So unless there’s an unbalancing force acting on your potential clients and customers, they’re more than likely to do nothing.

Do you know the key trigger events for your clients and customers? I’m going to share how you can discover and use trigger events to focus your account based marketing, lead generation, and sales approach.

3 Steps You Can Use to Discover Trigger Events for Account Based Marketing (ABM)Trigger events

Step 1: Create a list of your 5 to 10 most recent customers

Review the figure I set up showing the trigger event mind map (click trigger event picture to enlarge) It shows some of the possible trigger events. You can use this to as a starting point. Then answer the following questions about your 5 to 10 recent sales:

  • How did your relationship start?
  • What was the compelling event that drove their interest?
  • What were the external challenges or business issues they were facing?
  • Who was involved as the buying process evolved? What was driving their motivation?
  • What created the urgency for them to progress and move sooner?
  • How was interest created? Where did start and who was the driver?
  • What were the challenges they were facing?

As you answer these questions, note which trigger events were unknown until you had a deeper conversation. Also, note the trigger events that you could see before you spoke to them.

Step 2: Create an automated system capture key trigger events 

You can research new business opportunities based on trigger events, for little to no cost, by leveraging press releases, websites, and newswires. What keywords would you use to locate these trigger events on the web?

To begin collecting trigger events, I’d you can start by using the following tools:

  • Owler is the free competitive intelligence platform you can use to uncover competitive insights, news, and alerts. They just crossed 500,000 active users.
  • Google Alerts is a free tool track company name and any keywords you choose.
  • LinkedIn can get updates for individual, company profiles announcements, news, job postings, status updates
  • Twitter for @company @product @people mentions. You can also use #hashtag based search for triggers and company names.
  • Edgar, SEC filings and listen to earnings calls (if they are public companies)
  • InsideView – a paid sales intelligence platform that delivers triggers in real-time.

*I’ve used Owler instead of Google alerts for nine months and I find it helpful. I like the daily snapshot that emails me news and alerts on companies. It also helps me track industries, competitive information, customer news, and potential customer news.

Step 3: Start using trigger events for better and more lead generation 

Understanding trigger events can help your development of timely and relevant messages. Relevance is one of the most difficult things to achieve with sales, marketing lead generation outreach but trigger events can help a great deal. For more on this read 5 Lead Nurturing Tips to Create Relevant and Engaging Emails.

Triggers help you understand a potential opportunity to focus your message and be more relevant and helpful. Some ways you can use could in include the following ideas:

  • Give the sales team resources and related messaging based on triggers
  • Sending emails with links to articles that might be potentially relevant based on triggers
  • Creating special offers for potential clients who are experiencing specific trigger events
  • Posting links to relevant content on your social media pages to capture those experiencing those triggers to engage with your further


Using trigger events with your account based marketing and selling can help your sales team be more efficient and effective. Why? You’re putting the law of inertia to work in your favor, and that can help shorten your average sales cycle. Also, you’ll spend more time connecting with people who have a higher likelihood of having a motivated need for you have to sell.

I’ve learned it works best to start simple. Begin with some basic trigger events and then build upon your foundation over time. Remember it’s an iterative process. You want first to crawl, then walk and then run.

Are you using trigger events? I’d love to hear your comments, experiences, and tools you use.

You may also like:

30 Types of Sales Trigger Events and How to Track Them

What Are Trigger Events And How To Use Them Effectively

How to Leverage Trigger Events for better leads and Faster Sales

5 Lead Nurturing Tips to Create Relevant and Engaging Emails

7 Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results Immediately

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

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