Triggering More Revenue: Thought Leadership Interview #23 with Craig Elias from SHIFT Selling

I told you I would incorporate more sales centric content … well, here you have it.  I thought my interview with Craig Elias, the creator of Trigger Event Selling, would be a good post considering the importance of understanding trigger events in both marketing and sales. The Funnelholic isn’t the original report on Trigger Events as Elias has seen coverage on NBC news, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Sales and Marketing magazine. Not to mention his last business was chosen by Dow Jones as one of the 50 most promising companies in North America.

Here’s what he had to say:

1. What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?

  • A focus on the specific Trigger Events that shift a decision makers priorities and get them to buy right now — NOT next month or next year.
  • Analyzing the sales that are won so you can identify the Trigger Events that created the buyer’s desire to take action on solving this problem now — what I call a Won Sales Analysis — so these won sales can be replicated. This differs from what most people do — a lost sales analysis, which was based on an organizations belief that if they lose the business, they need to make sure they don’t lose the lesson.
  • A willingness to make a smaller initial sale with those who experienced a Trigger Event so new customers can be acquired faster, revenues can be generated sooner and further business obtained when other Trigger Events in the same account create additional, often larger, opportunities.

2. What are the biggest challenges for 2009?

  • Identifying EXACTLY when those who are buying are going to buy.
  • Getting to these highly motivated decision makers before the competition.
  • Getting recently motivated prospects as far down the path of buying from you as possible to minimize the likelihood, and the impact, of prospects shopping your solution to your competitors.

3. What are three metrics that B2B marketers should care about and why?

The main thing is to get to revenues as soon as possible, so for me the three metrics I teach my customers to follow are:

  • What Trigger Events caused prospects to become customers? These are the people who are most likely to buy in the near future.
  • Which messages and visuals do the best job of capturing the attention of those who recently experienced a Trigger Event? These messages do the best job of letting your marketing resources generate the greatest return. See below for information on “selective perception.”
  • Which mediums result in the shortest sales cycles by reaching recently motivated decision makers closest to the time when they experience a Trigger Event? These mediums allow you to capture the attention of recently motivated decision makers sooner and result in the highest close ratios.

4. What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?

NOT keeping track of the newsletter subscriber email addresses that bounce or direct mail that gets returned. Every time this happens it creates a minimum of three opportunities for a sales team.

  • Where did the original contact go?
  • Who took his or her place?
  • Where did the new contact come from?

Unfortunately most organizations miss the biggest single opportunity to create new customers and generate additional revenue from existing customers by taking these people off their marketing or email newsletter lists.

5. What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?

Harnessing the power of selective perception. Let me give you an example:

Have you ever noticed that as soon as you buy a new car you see it all over the road? When women get pregnant, suddenly they start seeing other pregnant women everywhere. When couples give birth to their first child, they stop noticing pregnant women and now start seeing babies around every corner. This is called selective perception. We tend to see the things that reinforce what we believe, or the things we can relate to. The rest we usually disregard.
The Trigger Events we experience change what we see. Every time we experience a Trigger Event a new version of selective perception is created. We begin to notice things that were always there. We did not just “see” them.

Why is this important? By focusing on those who recently experienced a Trigger Event you can use the words, visuals or scenarios, that are highly likely to resonate with them. In sales, that means saying the words that will capture your prospects’ attention. In marketing, that means using the words or visuals that will make your advertising jump out of the page and get noticed by those readers who recently experience a Trigger Event and are most likely to become your customers.

The next time you are crafting a message, focus on the audience that recently experienced a Trigger Event. Focus on shaping your message so that when they see it, they will take that most important step to becoming your customer — phoning you.

6. What three Web 2.0 applications, cutting-edge technologies or lead generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?

For me the answer to this question is related to what creates a highly motivated buyer and how to turn these highly motivated buyers into customers.

The tools I like the most are:

1. Trigger Event information services like Dow Jones’ SalesWorks and They do a phenomenal job of giving you first-mover advantage with highly motivated buyers who are highly likely to make a buying decision in the very near future.

2. Marketing automation systems like that get you the contact information of those who visit your Web site and let you know when they have visited more than once.

3. Systems like that empower a recently motivated buyer to get pricing information while at the same time helping a salesperson follow up before the competition learns of the opportunity. Nothing turns highly motivated decision makers off and causes them to visit the competition’s Web site more than not having access to the pricing information they want EXACTLY when they want it.

7. What do you hope for in B2B sales and marketing for the new year?

Stronger relationships between sales and marketing, so organizations can align and harness the aspirations of both sides of their revenue generating team.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Craig R.,
    Great pick for sales guru to get comments from. A marketers’ view is fine but getting the view from a sales expert that understands alignment really rounds out your Thought Leadership series.

    We’ve seen Craig E. in action and he knows what he’s talking about. Our sales team uses his terms Trigger Event and Window of Dissatisfaction all the time. Sales (and marketing) makes more sense when we understand how customers BUY, rather than spending all our energy on how to sell to them.

  • Hi Craig,

    I think you were just on the phone with our CEO yesterday. Congrats on the upcoming book btw.

    This is a GREAT article on trigger events and the information you provide really shapes a new perspective on them. I don’t think many people really realize how to effectively analyze and act on trigger events. In addition to the sites you mentioned that provide cutting-edge tools, I would include SalesFuel – as we were one of the originators of trigger events and offer a huge taxonomy that allows users to target broad or narrow ranges of triggers.

  • One more tool to add to the list…InsideView. It delivers trigger events you have identified to you via email on a daily basis. What a great way to monitor multiple accounts quickly and efficiently!