June 13

The Physics of Trigger Events for Lead Generation

Lead Generation


Intouch_trigger_events_listMost buyers aren’t ready to buy when we’re ready to sell. This trite but true observation has significant implications when it comes to lead generation.  It means that we must continue to nurture viable prospects until they are ready to buy. But what about the prospects who are not in your nurturing database yet?

This dilemma has led me to think about how trigger events are related to one of the basic laws of physics. 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 stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

The first law of motion can act much like one of your potential prospects.  Unless there is an “unbalancing force” acting on them that is sufficient to move them away from the status quo (as rest), then they will not change their direction.  In this context, trigger events can be seen as the sufficient force or event that moved and changed the status quo.

So in the context of lead generation, what’s a trigger event? A trigger is a happening associated with a consequence so significant that it causes new behaviors, new ideas and new opportunities. One of my clients found companies with their key trigger events was 400% more likely to buy than companies without those trigger events.

When InTouch conducts an ideal customer profile workshop for a client, we help them understand favorable trigger events and related implications. The above trigger event mind map figure (Click Image to Enlarge) shows just some of the possible trigger events that you can track.

Trigger events matter for two key reasons. First, they may indicate the status quo in an organization is changing and secondly, they can contribute to the development of timely and relevant sales and marketing messaging. Relevance is one of the most difficult things to achieve with lead generation programs but trigger events can help a great deal.

Messaging that addresses (in a personalized manner) a specific problem that your prospect is having is more relevant and thus will be more effective than a generic features and benefits message. What’s better is that the problem can often be tied to a specific event or events.

There are three basic steps if you want start using trigger events:

1. Review 10 – 15 recent sales “wins” and look at what business pains or events were present. (See the above mind map for examples)
2. Develop an intelligent system to identify when your trigger events happen.
3. Understand trigger event implications and what to do once they happen.

You can research new business opportunities based on trigger events, for little to no cost, by leveraging press releases, websites and news wires. If you have a corporate librarian or local business library they can help you find what you need.

To begin collecting trigger events, I’d start with using free tools like the following:

Don’t try to do everything at once. Start with some basic trigger events and then build upon your foundation over time. Remember it’s an iterative process… you want to first crawl, walk and then run. As your sophistication grows, you will be ready to look into third party tools that specialize in tracking trigger events.

Trigger event are a great way to change the physics of the buying process and yet another way that we marketers can to go beyond the lead.

Are you using trigger events? I’d love to hear your comments or experiences.

BTW – You can read more about trigger events in Chapter 5 of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale or search my blog archives for “trigger event.” Also, Jill Konrath has some great information on trigger events (geared for sales people) in her book Selling to Big Companies and her blog too.

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.

  1. My experience is that ‘Trigger Events’ fall into one of three categories:

    1) A bad experience: Usually caused by an upgrade/ modification in the product or service being sold, a change in the people dealing with the customer, or a material change in the supplier (like a merger)

    2) A change or transition: Usually a change in people on the customer side, a change in location, or a change in priorities

    3) Awareness: Usually a new awareness of a legal reason to change (statutory or regulatory), an awareness of a way to reduce risk, or a way to dramatic change in economics (productivity or expenses)

  2. You describe external triggering events — a valuable way to look at this.

    In my case, I appeal more to a gradual “in your noggin” process that small business owners experience. Goes something like this: “My business is growing, I’ve doubled our workforce, but I’m working twice as many hours, and I’m not putting any more money in my pocket!”

    I find these people when I do public speaking on our “grow your business without driving yourself crazy” theme. My goal is to get them to see that there’s a way out of their situation. Some want it and some don’t. I love it when I get the “Where have you been all my life?” response.

    I’d love to identify some external trigger events that would help me identify ready prospects more consistently, because now it seems more like a gradual and hidden “straw that breaks the camel’s back” thing. I make a talk, add them to our ezine list, and maybe 6 months later they say, “Now I’m ready to do something.”

  3. Great tip indeed.

    I use trigger events already, but just by monitoring the Dutch marketing blogosphere for new campaigns and launches, so I can act on them. Then I usually use online networking tools to find the people I need.

    I think it’s a bit too much to start monitoring all of my contacts, but for certain cases (where you know in the future something will happen that ca trigger interest), monitoring with a blogsearch tool might help perfectly.

  4. Thanks for the extremely useful entry, Brian. We’ve found it very helpful to treat all triggers as experiments initially. When we measure different trigger programs, it’s amazing how often outcomes don’t match up with initial opinions.

  5. Thanks for reading and for your thoughts. For small businesses, there often are triggers that can indicate changes such as job listings (this won’t work for 1 person small businesses of course) but that information may indicate possible turnover issues, company growth or change in strategy for example. In your case, you may need to use triggers for radar and then have to go in to scout it out in more depth.

    Also, I’ve found that combining trigger events together in search terms is helpful too. Stay tuned for my in depth article on trigger events.

  6. I use seasonal changes and holidays as trigger events right now. Your idea to use the free tools you mention gave me some more places to find trigger events.

    I like to use psychological triggers in my promotions as well. The book ‘Triggers’ by Joseph Sugarman gives very valuable insight on this topic.


  7. Well done Brian. It’s easy to speak of trigger events in the general sense, but like your previous Lead Generation Modality Map, you have provided a very specific tool to help look for triggering events. I will use it, and pass it on.

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