Thinking out loud about Trigger-based selling

I was watching a series of 3 “OneSource” webinars last summer dealing with Trigger-based selling TM by SHiFT! What I found most interesting in these presentations was the foundational principle that most sales people push hard to sell either to the wrong person or at the wrong time. A a matter of fact,

  • When you are trying to sell to someone, who is happy with the status quo, your chances of success are quite low. That person is simply not interested, you are just wasting your time,
  • Reversely, when your customer has decided to buy and is actively seeking potential vendors, there will be a lot of competition for this publicly available business and your chances of success will decrease with the number of bidders.
  • However, between these 2 extremes, there is the sweet spot that was the focus of the presentation. Your customer is unhappy with the status quo, he would like to change but has not initiated yet the process of finding a replacement solution. This is where your chances of winning are high because if you come with a satisfactory solution, which is readily available and without having to go through a cumbersome procurement process, it looks like a Win/Win for the customer and for yourself.

I’m a presales professional, most of the time I’m called in to pursue opportunities by the time they have come public as the customer released a Request For Information (RFI) or Request For Proposal (RFP). Reflecting on these webinars, isn’t the timing wrong or at least sub-optimal? By then we are in a highly competitive environment where our chances of winning are much lower than before and the presales investment in order to close the deal will be so much bigger compared to closing a sole-source opportunity. So as a presales professional, my questions become the following: If the biggest opportunity is before the customer has decided to make a public tender, why are we never called in by our Sales colleagues to pursue sole-source opportunities? How can it be that we are investing massively sales and presales money on opportunities that obviously do not show the highest possible returns? Is there a fundamental flaw in the way Sales people chase the order today? Is it time to rethink the way we sell in light of the disruption that we see between the XX and the XXI centuries?


One response to “Thinking out loud about Trigger-based selling

  1. stefanoburbui

    Great point Olivier,
    reality is that most of the sales representatives are driven by their quota objectives and then it cost them more effort to build an opportunity with a potential client than actually chase already public tenders… at the end of the day they have to reach the quota they’ve got assigned.
    With this in mind I think you are right that there is an opportunity to change the way company try to sell BtoB products and services. I’ve always heard about the sales divided in 2 families, the hunters and the farmers… I think it is time to invest some energy and money into something different, a new family… the explorers…
    this should be more than a business developer but less than a hunter…
    like always those are ideas for a post and a comment… may be one day we’ll sit down and develop a new strategy….

    keep up with the good work!!!

    Stefano Burbui

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