The Problem With Using 'Sales Triggers' on LinkedIn
We are told starting discussions with buyers on LinkedIn demands relevance. Thus, watch for “trigger events": moments in time when your prospect is demonstrating something that signals “time to go in” to us. Easy, but is it an effective way to get attention of busy prospects?
Really? Using triggers can subvert your ability to get conversations started using LinkedIn.
Yes, when approaching a potential buyer on LinkedIn, the approach must be a warm one — not cold. But this means qualitative triggers, research ... not tech triggers. Beware.
What Is a Trigger Event?
“An event that precipitates other events,” says Eric Quanstrom, CMO of KiteDesk. “In sales, these trigger situations are opportunities to make a connection in a timely way that hit a relationship inflection point, and increase a likelihood of a sale.”
Mr. Quanstrom says think of it as investing time — at the right time — to create opportunity.
“Trigger events are times to initiate relevant content and conversations. The key to graceful relationship building is to approach when there's relevance,” he says.
I agree, however, the manifestation of this concept on LinkedIn is becoming horrifyingly ineffective.
LinkedIn Trigger Events
Beware: Technically-generated triggers are easily seen by you — and any other sellers looking to court your prospect. LinkedIn trigger events don't just trigger you — they trigger your competitors.
Some trigger events you can observe on LinkedIn are when your contact:
- changes jobs
- is promoted
- has a birthday or work anniversary
- is mentioned in the news
These triggers are based on the prospect, true.
“When you approach someone in light of a trigger event, you eliminate a lot of uncertainty,” says Mr. Quanstrom. “Largely this is because the trigger event is personal to them.”
However, these are technically-generated triggers that are easily seen by you — and any other sellers looking to court your prospect. These triggers are also shallow — without deeper meaning to the prospect. They're anecdotal, not strategic.
How Using Triggers Can Hurt You
LinkedIn and social selling give you the chance to monitor prospects for trigger events. But increasingly this is not working. This is why:
- The ability to stalk prospects is being abused.
- The type of trigger events are anecdotal (not strategic) triggers.
Most sellers using LinkedIn are lazy. Frankly, they're low-skilled. Worse, they're keying on shallow triggers — grasping at straws, rather than doing homework and researching prospects for provocative triggers.
Sales prospecting expert, Bruce Johnston, says LinkedIn's trigger events sound like a great way to increase relevancy and separate out from other sellers who are less personalized. But in practice, it's working against most sellers.
Mr. Johnston says we're reaching a saturation point on LinkedIn — where masses of sellers are monitoring for triggers and spamming prospects with irrelevant messages.
"Once everyone is looking for the same event, and indeed being alerted when that event occurs, the effectiveness of that trigger falls away,” says Mr. Johnston.
Relevant Seller or Lazy Spammer?
In a rush to be seen as relevant, most sellers see work anniversaries, promotions and job changes as good excuses to start conversations with potential buyers they're connected to on LinkedIn. Sounds smart, but in practice trigger events are becoming precursors to massive spam campaigns from low-skilled social sellers.
“The CEO posted! The CEO commented! The CEO had a work anniversary! And everyone is going after the CEO at the same time — based on those triggers,” says Mr. Johnston who warns against using such triggers.
For example: A promotion or change of job position triggers dozens (or more) sales people sending, "congratulations on your promotion, John. I'm with XYZ Company and we sell ABC product/service. When is the next time I can get 15 minutes on your calendar to sell you my thing?"
Thus, LinkedIn-generated (tech) triggers are increasingly ineffective method to start conversations. Instead, qualitative research on prospects is needed.
Instead, Look for These Triggers
LinkedIn allows sellers to monitor for anecdotal events — not true sales triggers. Instead, dig deeper into what LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Google Alerts and other research tools offer. Look for qualitative triggers.
Eric Quanstrom, CMO of KiteDesk, gives us a few, “Dead obvious examples: A company announces a new funding. They have an evident budget and need for growth. While this may translate into headcount, it can also signal need for services like: sales training, product packaging and graphic design, rebranding, product marketing materials, content and social media campaigns, just to name a few.”
Other common trigger events he points to include:
- new product
- news article/quotes
- new building
- regulatory change
- new legislation
- new CEO
- new owner
- stock swing up or down
- analyst opinions change up or down
- rapid growth feature story
- upcoming industry event
Garbage In, Garbage Out
The fact that your target got promoted or had a work anniversary does not make you more relevant! Beware of shallow triggers ... weak excuses. Instead, get back to researching prospects.
Good triggers offer “signals of intent,” a term Mr. Quanstrom uses that I really like. Watch for your potential customers:
- complaining about products or services like yours
- talking about looking to purchase products/services like yours
- discussing topics and issues in your field
- asking for help with something in your area of expertise
Do these trigger events and signals take time to discover? Yes. And that's why the payoff can be so much better than cheap, software-generated anecdotes.
“During transitions, you are also much more likely to catch the ear of a decision maker as they deal with change,” says Mr. Quanstrom. “You are in a position to help them decide to take action move forward successfully. They will be less resistant to changing from the status quo, because change is inevitable in any case.”
What do you think? What has your experience been using trigger events on LinkedIn?