Sales Trigger Events – Taxonomy, Care and Feeding

Sales Trigger Events


Sales Trigger Events

Sales Trigger Events are essentially changes in the status quo that force your prospects to become aware of an urgent and pressing need that your product or service, hopefully, fulfills.

Now, sales trigger events could be external, i.e. originating outside of your prospect’s organization and internal, i.e. changes coming from within.

Above is a comprehensive chart depicting both internal and external sales trigger events:


1.  Regulatory Events

For example, Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 substantially changed the way corporations report and and manage risk. This act forced companies to hire personnel, outside consultant, adapt new technology, etc. helping spawn a slew of consultants and service providers focused on compliance.

Other examples of regulatory trigger events are DMCA, Emission control regulations and many others.

2. Industry Specific Events

Industry specific trigger events only work for one industry. For example, if you are an IT security firm, one of the best trigger events for you could be a hacker attack on your prospective client.  If you are in a disaster recovery line of business, then you may focus on hurricanes and tornadoes.

3. Recognition Driven Events

Recognition of your potential prospective client can take various forms.  Your prospect company could be voted “the best to work for”, or included in Fortune 1000, or in one of the Gartner Quadrants.

You may also track positive press focusing on your prospective clients or speaking engagements in industry conferences for your prospect company’s executives. All these events are excellent opportunities to reach out, congratulate and engage.

4. Competitive Events

Competitive events are stemming from actions of competitors that impact your current and prospective clients. These actions could be of legal nature (e.g. Yahoo! claiming infringement on its patent portfolio by Facebook), new competitive products (e.g. any Apple product redraws the map for most other hardware manufacturers),  poached clients or key personnel.

5. Social Media

Social Media has emerged as an important force capable of changing companies agendas in real time. You may consider tracking social media for trending sentiment, good or bad, involving your current or potential clients. These could be excellent opportunities to engage a prospective client especially if you spot a trend before they do.


1. Technology Driven Events

Technology changes often have derivative effects: e.g. adopting cloud reduces needs for data centers and hosting. BPO reduces need for in-house personnel, etc.  Through media and informal conversations you can track trends like these that will impact your prospect’s business and hence – yours as well.

2. Growth Events

Indicators of growth are one of the best sales trigger events. When the company is growing usually needs are immediate, urgent and backed with financial strength.

Some of these signals could be adding headcount, opening new offices, entering new markets, launching new products. You may also look into announcement of partnerships, joint ventures, new clients gained, etc.

3. Financial Events

Financial trigger events are very important as well as they usually signal increased ability or difficulty to purchase products or services. Some of the financial events that are also sales triggers: IPO, raising debt or equity through private placements, earnings surprise (positive or negative), rapid appreciation or depreciation of stock, breach of debt covenants or bankruptcy announcement.

4. Ownership Change Events

Ownership change is an important sales trigger event as it usually signifies a major disruption in existing vendor-client relationships, a strategy change, a new capital infusion, etc. Some of such changes may involve a merger, an acquisition, a “going private” buyout.

5. Strategic Events

Strategic events are indicators of major directional shifts within your prospective company. Such events may involve announced alliances or JVs,  restructuring and divestiture of business lines, products and/or brands, layoffs, etc.

6. Personnel Events

Personnel changes are easily the most important sales trigger events. Even in B2B space people buy from other people. Not just any, but the ones they know, trust and like.  Therefore with changes in personnel this network of relationships is usually disrupted creating a perfect opening for a challenger to come in.

Some of the events you may want to track are:  appointments and promotions of key executives, new board directors, announcements of outsourcing initiatives, adding/cutting of headcount, etc.

7. Industry Specific Events

Industry specific events involve a limited set of industries. For example, if you are in BPO space you may track announcements of cost cutting initiatives. If you are a construction company then issuance of building permits is an excellent trigger event. If you are corporate bankruptcy lawyer, look out for breached debt covenants, etc.

This is an excerpt from a recently published whitepaper “Introduction to Sales Trigger Events“. Get your free copy here.

Sales Trigger Events

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