Sales Trigger – Selling Umbrellas When it Rains

So what’s a sales trigger? “Sales trigger” is an event that changes the status quo for your prospect and therefore creates a potential sales opportunity for you.

“Selling umbrellas when it rains” is the best analogy I can think of.  If you live in New York City, you saw a million times those impromptu salesmen popping up on every corner with a selection of parasols with the first drops from the sky.

Now, the trigger event – rain – changed the status quo for the prospective buyer who is now looking at the $3,000 suit being destroyed by the downpour.  Immediately, the pain of the status quo becomes greater than the pain from parting with $5.

If you think of it, prior to the rain starting, the salesmen could stalk people on the street, shout about the weather forecast, deploy telemarketers, invest in social media; however I’d bet they would NOT generate the same sales because the immediate and urgent need would not be realized by all the prospective buyers.

How does this relate to you? If you:

–          Identify your market – prospective companies, specific titles/roles within those organizations

–          Identify the type trigger events – management change, capital infusion, bankruptcy, merger – that are most likely to create a sales opportunity for you

–          Design a process to track those events – through Google alerts, news clipping services, etc.

–          Integrate specific actions – dedicated emails, phone calls, etc. – into your current marketing campaign,

… then you may see that incredible lift in response rates compared to the traditional “push” type marketing and sales efforts.  All you may have to do to close a sale is to “make your prospects aware that it started raining…”

You can find more on how to leverage sales trigger events – specifically, management changes – for technology sales at Further, you can sign up for the limited, free version and paid, full version of the service at

Sales Trigger Events

Recent Appointments of IT Executives, CIO/CTO Job Postings, Technology Events.

Best sales triggers are “events”. An event could be a management change, a job posting or and industry event. We’ve collated the most important ones below:

These senior IT Executives were recently appointed to their positions:

– Grisha Alpernas was Appointed as Information Technology Director at Washington State University in Vancouver

– Ari Bose was Appointed as Chief Information Officer at Polycom

– Robert Brese was Appointed as Deputy Chief Information Officer at U.S. Department of Energy

– Dean Cookson was Appointed as Chief Information Officer at Airline Virgin America

– Stephen Davies was Appointed as Chief Information Officer at Savient Pharmaceuticals

– Ian Fletcher was Appointed as Chief Technology Officer at Miranda Technologies

– Rob Harpel was Appointed as Chief Technology Officer at Fitch Ratings

– Rajiv Laroia was Appointed as Chief Technology Officer at Sonus Networks

– John McKinley was Appointed as Chief Technology Officer at News Corp

– Paul Obermeyer Named Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Comerica

– Phil Sakakihara was Appointed as Chief Technology Officer at Lyris

– Ravi Simhambhatla was Appointed as  Vice President IT at Tesla Motors

– Mike Toomer was Appointed as IT Director at VeriFone

– Janice Ward was Appointed as Chief Information Officer for SunGard Higher Education

– Deborah Zawisza was Appointed as Chief Information Officer at  Claim Services at Travelers


These organizations posted openings in the IT organization which indicates that IT budgets will be in motion:

–          Benchmark Brands in Atlanta, GA is looking for a Chief Information Officer

–          R/GA is looking for a Chief Information Officer

–          City of Santa Cruz is looking for a Chief Technology Officer

–          News Corp. is looking for a VP, Technology

–          Thomson Reuters is looking for a Chief Technology Officer

–          Harvard University is looking to hire a Chief Technology Officer


These IT events are present excellent opportunities to strengthen relationships with existing clients and forge new ones:

–          CIO Summit, taking place in Scottsdale, AZ on March 13, 2011. Produced by CDM Media. See more at

–          CIO Leadership Forum, taking place in Phoenix, AX on March 20, 2011. Produced by Gartner. See more at

–          The CIO Leadership Event, taking place in Ponte Vedra, FL on May 1, 2011. Produced by CIO. See more at

–          InterOp, taking place in Las Vegas on May 8, 2011. Produced by TechWeb. See more at

–          Sapphire, taking place in Orlando, FL on May 15, 2011. Produced by SAP. See more at

–          The CIO and IT Security Forum, taking place in Ponte Vedra, FL on May 22, 2011. Produced by Richmond Events. See more at

–          Green Data Center Conference, taking place in San Francisco, CA on May 24, 2011. Produced by GDCON. See more at

Trigger Events 101: How to Boost Your Sales Lead Generation Success with Insightful and Actionable Trigger Events.

First of all, what’s a trigger event? A trigger event is an instance that disrupted the steady flow, changed the status quo. On a person level this event could be birth of a child (need diapers), marriage (don’t need night clubs) or as simple as a headache (need aspirin).

On a business level such trigger events could be:

–          Appointment or promotion of a key executive

–          Acquisition of another company

–          Opening of a branch office

–          Raising capital

–          Merger

–          Going public

–          Disposal of a business line

–          Etc., etc., etc.

Why such trigger events are important? They are important for several reasons:

–          Change the status quo. They disrupt the status quo – the move the existing system of vendors, buyers, executives out of equilibrium, thus creating a perfect entry point for a new vendor – YOU! – to jump it.

–          Urge to buy. They create an authoritative, funded, unequivocal, and irresistible urge to buy. For example, if your company is going public, you, as a CFO, cannot NOT have auditors. Or if you opened a new office, you cannot NOT get it cleaned, etc.

–          Actionable Insight. They are immediate, time bound, actionable insight. They may not have existed yesterday, but they are here now, so that the nimblest vendor out there can capture this opportunity and gain an edge over the competition. Needless to say, trigger events are perishable – the more you wait to act on them, the less impactful they become as your competitors pile in, and the target company address the business need elsewhere.

So as a salesperson or sales executive, how could you use sales triggers to grow your sales pipeline, generate strong opportunities, and ultimately – sell more?

Step 1.  Identify Your Trigger Event

If you are sell bricks then issuance of a new building permit could be your trigger event. If you are a bankruptcy lawyer than a default on a credit line could be your trigger event. Think what circumstances generate the business need for your product or service.

Step 2.  Build Your Gathering System

This process could be as automatic as signing up for Google Alerts or as manual as calling experts “in the know” once a week. In reality it is probably a combination of RSS feeds, newletters, human curators and such. In the end, you’d want a process that generates a large enough number of insights per week to make it worthwhile.

Step 3. Act on Trigger Events

Yes. The most important part – act on these insights NOW. Not tomorrow, not after the holidays. Now.  Acting could mean picking up a phone a congratulating the newly appointed executive. Or sending a highly personalized email.

Step 4. Track Your Success and Optimize.

Over time you will have enough data points to analyze what works and what doesn’t. What sources of insights tend to be more reliable/productive. What actions of your produce the most results. Armed with this information you can tweak your trigger event gathering and acting on to achieve even better results.

Sales Trigger Events

How to Leverage Sales Trigger Events – Top 10 Ways to Engage and Sell More with Sales Trigger Insights

When a top decision maker changes jobs it is usually a strong signal to engage this person in a business conversation because your chances of success are that much higher. The reasons are simple:

Change is in the air. New executives tend to audit what they’ve inherited, and as they are charting their course going forward they tend to be more open to contacts with trusted advisors.


Strong personal relationships are disrupted. Pre-existing vendor client relationships are not as strong, and the time around appointments/promotions are some of the best entry points into a new account


Blind spot for other salespeople. The news and hence new contact details (emails, phone numbers) have not yet percolated throughout all sales lists and contact databases therefore the amount of inbound email and phone solicitations are not as large.

Personal ego. Most likely they were hired with a mandate to change things around, they want to make a name for themselves therefore they are likely to do something new.

Here is list of top 10 action items you could use to fully leverage the insights about career changes of IT executives:

1.      Email – send a congratulatory email to the IT executive who was recently promoted or newly appointed.

2.      Phone call – just pick the phone and call to congratulate the person on the career move. The script could be along the lines: “I’ve noticed in the news the announcement of your recent promotion and just wanted to tell you how happy we are to hear about your success…”

3.      Event – you can invite them to an industry event your are sponsoring or speaking at: Gartner, InterOp, Evanta, ComputerWeek or others.

4.      Webinar – invite then to a webinar you are hosting. The invitation could be along the lines: “John, we’ve noticed you recently assumed an important role at the company and we hope you will join your peers at the webinar we hosting on a topic that would be certainly important in your IT strategy”.

5.      Gift – send a gift. It could be as little as a classy business card holder with personal note, or as large as a bottle of wine. Be mindful that what you say in the gift card could be more important than the gift itself.

6.      Peer feedback – invite your current client who is a peer to the newly appointed executive to reach out and congratulate them on your behalf.

7.      Letter – with so many filters, from personal assistants to email filters, it is difficult to get through. Try sending a personal hand written note, it will surely stand out and more likely to get noticed.

8.      Face-to-face – invite them to a face-to-face meeting. Depending on the stature at the firm it could be as informal as a coffee (“I am in town meeting clients and would like to touch base with you on your IT strategy going forward.”) or as serious as a steak dinner.

9.      Appointment – ask for an appointment in a smart way: “Mary, I’d like to congratulate on your recent appointment. As you may know, a number of companies similar to your are our clients and we’ve done truly impactful solutions for them in the field of _____ which, no doubt, would be one of your focus areas going forward. Would you have 10min next week for a brief phone call? I am available on…”

10.  White paper – send them a white paper that is relevant referencing their new role, current mandate, previous positions, etc.


Sales Trigger Events

How to use sales triggers, specifically management change, to overcome list fatigue and low responsiveness of IT decision makers (Part 2)


Now the question going forward is two-fold:

  1. How to capture the information about management change?
  2. What is the best way to act on this information?

On the first one, certainly, there is no limit as to various ways on how you can gather the information: from signing up for various RSS and news feeds, trailing business and social media, hiring an intern to sift through information, outsourcing this research overseas…. Most of these options take a lot of time or a lot of money; or both.

Unfortunately, as more and more data is being created, the “filters” of this data onslaught are not catching up thus creating a complete and utter information overload.  Therefore the process of setting up the filters – can be one – to separate relevant from non-relevant, actionable from non-actionable and signal from noise is very important and cannot be overlooked.

At we track over 5000 various news sources, social media sites, blogs, announcements to extract relevant, actionable and important information thus saving our subscribers the time and expense by providing actionable insights on-demand.

The second question – the best way of acting on the insight – in many ways depends on what you consider a conversion and  how you measure results and ROI.  Specifically, a lot of IT-related products require a substantial amount of hand-holding and the usual sales cycles often spans weeks and months.

Therefore, in the case of management change, the preferred way to use the leads, as demonstrated by a number of our subscribers is through personalized gradual engagement. These two aspects require a separate explanation:

–          “Personalized” – as recipient of marketing communications I am always amazed every time I receive a “Dear Customer” or “Dear Subscriber” email. Understandably it is a lot easier to send 100K email blast without any regard to personalization and if open and click through rate are not important, that certainly is ok. However, since we are in the business of selling, customization and personalization is key. This means that ALL personalized information you can glean from the news can and should be used in your solicitations – where your prospect worked before, what is their mandate in the new organization, who they are reporting – all these nuggets of information can be used to your advantage in personalizing an email or a voicemail.

Would you rather receive this email?:

“Dear Subscriber,

We would like to invite you to attend our ABC seminar…”

Or this one?:

“Hi Mary,

I’ve noticed your new appointment at Acme and would like to congratulate you on this career move. I understand that you probably would be taking a month or so to analyze what you inherited – business processes, infrastructure, people. Within I just wanted to let you know that we’ve addressing the XYZ business issue with you previous company and I am sure we can help you in your new role as well. Would you have 10min next week for a phone call to go over details?”

–          “Gradual” in B2C world all but the most complicated products can be done on a “self-serve” business model; this is not the case with B2B, where the transition from “I don’t know you” to “here is my credit card” almost never happens by itself nor quickly. The answer to this therefore is to create engagement in small steps, for example:

  1. I learned about your recent appointment and here is a free resource you can find useful click here…
  2. We are hosting a free webinar on the topic that most of your peers find critical. It will take 20min and you can sign up here…
  3. Would you have 10min next week for a demo?
  4. Would you have 10min next week for a call with our technical team?
  5. Can you sign the contract by Monday?

You see how you from giving stuff (free resources, etc.) to getting stuff (claim on attention, extended claim on attention, signed contract)? It is obvious that the direct approach – “Can you signed the contract by Monday?”, would not work unless all the preliminary steps are fulfilled.

Further, you see that if you have this actionable insight – who from your decision-making prospects moved where – before your competition, not only you can craft a precisely personalized message but also you can do that without any competition on your prospect’s time. These two factors combined will provide you an exponentially higher response rate from your campaign than a generic, non-personalized campaign to the house list or rented list that is likely being hit but your competitors all the time.


Sales Trigger Events

How to use sales triggers, specifically management change, to overcome list fatigue and low responsiveness of IT decision makers

If you ever participated in an inside sales campaign aimed at Chief Information Officers or Chief Technology Officers you probably had to deal with contact databases and in-house and purchased lists of CIOs and CTOs and are aware of the two main complaints about them:

–         25-35% of data the is incorrect – missing or duplicate records, executives who long retired or moved on; missing, incomplete or incorrect contact information, etc.

–         The contacts with correct information have very low response rate because, let’s face it, if you subscribe to a large database so do 100s,  if not 1000s of your competitors and therefore the attention span of the very decision making IT executives you are trying to reach is oversubscribed.

Unfortunately these problems have no easy solution. By industry standards any contact list on average is goes obsolete at a rate of 30% a year, effectively meaning that a list that is not properly maintained becomes worthless in 3 years. At the same time, for contact details that happen to be correct, the proliferation of media content aimed at budget owners and general ubiquitous nature of contact information (as Sun ex-CEO Scott McNealy said “privacy is dead, deal with it”), completely kills the response rate as any communication that appears to be a solicitation becomes “guilty-by-association” and gets tuned out instantaneously.

There are only three ways to deal with this problem and none are easy:

  1. Out-communicate – if marketing dollars are no object, then one way to deal with low response rate is to outspend your competition. For example, I hardly ever consume soft drinks and barely watch TV, and yet Coca-Cola ads on trucks, billboards, storefronts are so overwhelming that this brand is always top of mind. Cons – too expensive to implement; there is a risk that competition will match the spend, thus opening an advertising arms race. Application: Only works if the products/service you are selling has a very high price point that justifies the spend.
  2. Develop relationships – if you target market is small (“we only sell to Fortune 500”), then developing relationships is another approach. This is about a high touch approach that includes executive referrals, months of research and finessing; working with advisors, etc. Sometimes it takes years just to get the “first date”. Cons – time consuming; sometimes relationships do not accrue to the organization but to the person which becomes an issue when the person leaves. Application – works if you are selling large enterprise level solutions with a long time horizon.
  3. Hit the blind spot – if both time and marketing dollars are limited then options #1 and #2 are not applicable and the only remaining option is to approach potential IT sales leads and prospects that for one reason or another are not on any one’s radar screen.

More specifically, certain events tend to trigger the buying decision – management change, new funding, a merger or an acquisition, new product launch, etc. All these events potentially open a door for a sale because the steady state – existing relationships, business processes, etc. – has been disrupted and if these events are tracked in real time, they generate unique and highly responsive sales prospects.

Management change is one of the best sales triggers in this respect:

–         Existing vendor relationships are disrupted

–         Newly minted executives often want to make a name for themselves or where brought in to “fix things” – both instances often create purchasing intent

–         The contact details of these executives are not yet on all contact databases and as a result they are not being (over) pitched.

(to be continued…)

Sales Trigger Events

Top 13 blogs for technology marketing and sales professionals

There is no shortage of B2B sales and marketing blogs, as well as technology blogs, however the ones that focus on selling technology solutions are somewhat harder to find. Here is the list of 13 of the most popular ones:

1. Forrester blog –

Forrester Research is a technology and market research company that provides pragmatic advice to global leaders in business and technology. With hundreds of analysts and coverage areas, we are the only company that creates forward-thinking research specifically for your role in the organization.

2. IDG’s blog –

International Data Group (IDG) is the world’s leading technology media, events and research company. IDG’s media brands – including CIO, CSO, Computerworld, GamePro, InfoWorld, Macworld, Network World, PC World and TechWorld – reach an audience of more than 200 million technology buyers in 90 countries.

3. Rich Vancil’s blog –

Rich Vancil, Vice President of the Executive Advisory Group, leads IDC (subsidiary of IDG) practice areas focused on providing senior technology marketing and sales executives with research and insights to improve the productivity and efficiency of their organizations. Rich started the practice for IDC with the 2003 introduction of the CMO Advisory Research service, focusing on analysis of marketing investments and key marketing performance indicators across the worldwide IT vendor community.

4. TMCnet blog –

Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC), based in Norwalk, CT and founded in 1972, is the world’s leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.

Reaching in excess of 3.5 million readers worldwide each month, TMC creates highly targeted, content-driven communities, serving as the world’s primary educational and news resource in the communications and technology fields – including VoIP, IP communications, telecom, contact centers, and CRM.

5. TechTarget’s  –

TechTarget (NASDAQ: TTGT) publishes integrated media that enable technology providers to reach targeted communities of technology professionals and executives in all phases of their decision-making and purchase process. Through its industry-leading websites, conferences and ROI-focused lead management services, TechTarget delivers measurable results that help marketers generate qualified leads, shorten sales cycles and grow revenues.

6. Sell Results blog –

Janice Lawrence, the author of SELL RESULTS: What Every Technology Salesperson Needs to Know, has advised technology companies, such as Oracle, Cisco, Apple, Sun, GE, Sybase, Unisys and many more, for the past two decades.

Sell Results, LLC is a sales training and content development company who helps clients develop the sales methodology they need to be successful. Our broad skill set and vast experience working with a wide range of companies ensures that you will be able to accomplish your sales goals through the development of customized, web-based, learning solutions.

7. StandUp Sales blog –

This website captures ideas about selling technology in the context of enabling breakthrough business change.

And the site is about how that activity is different from other kinds of sales.

8. Barry Harrigan’s blog –

For the past 25 years, Barry Harrigan has split his time between starting and operating his own ventures and working as an intrepreneur for some very special corporate sponsors. His focus is on Internet & media businesses and on demand creation strategies for Information Technology and other complex sales.

Previously, Barry worked as the SVP Strategy & Product Development at Ziff Davis Enterprise. In this corporate role, Harrigan definited the business strategy for ZDE across all product lines, including: Internet [ and 30 additional sites], Demand Generation [video, strategic content services, eSeminars, Virtual Trade Shows, Lead Generation Services, WebBuyersGuide], face-to-face events, and print media [eWeek Magazine, Baseline, CIOInsight – and their digital editions], International extensions, content licensing, the development of a Technology Suite (SPARK, ACCELERATE & SCORE), and related professional services.

9. Paul Dunay’s blog –

Paul Dunay is an award-winning B2B marketing expert with more than 20 years’ success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology, consumer products, financial services and professional services organizations.

10. Paul Woods’ blog –

Who is Paul Woods? By day, I would describe myself as a Marketing Technologist… a twenty-something Australian passionate for technology of all shapes and sizes, an even more passionate for building messaging, branding, and strategies to drive further adoption of technology based products and services.

11. Tom Jacobs’ blog –

Tom Jacobs is president of Jacobs Agency Inc, a nationally recognized B2B marketing agency.

He has spent more than 20 years professionally advertising, marketing, generating demand and creating credibility for leading technology companies such as 3COM, AT&T, Avanade, Comcast, Forsythe, Microsoft, and many others. Through his experience, he has also delivered problem solving marketing initiatives for Commonwealth Edison, DIRECTV, Exelon Corporation, Fairpoint Communications, The Federal Reserve Banks, HBO, Imax Theaters, Showtime, SPSS, NTT Verio and many other leading business to business corporations.

12. Software and Technology Marketing blog –

Keeping you updated on the latest trends, tactics and best practices in software marketing. Including online demos, promotional campaigns, customer profiling, lead capture, SEM and the technology that supports it all.

13. QEDBaton Blog –

We are one of  India’s premier Sales & Marketing Process Outsourcing company, with specialization in the technology domain.