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Recognizing B2B Buying Triggers

by Hank Barnes  |  January 3, 2017  |  1 Comment

As plans continue to be refined for 2017, there is one area that I feel needs to rise to the top of sales and marketing priority lists–the identification and deep understanding of buying triggers for your products or solutions.

We spent much of the last few years talking about situational awareness being critical to sales and marketing.   This is driving many to embrace account based marketing and sales strategies to gain a deeper understanding of their key accounts and to focus efforts on building awareness and interest across the key decision makers and influencers.

All of that is good–but it is meaningless if the enterprise does not have a reason to buy. Reasons to buy will vary widely, but are almost always related to some type of buying trigger.


Buying triggers vary widely and are linked to your solution area.  A security breach is a buying trigger for some.  For others, a security breach of their competitors is the trigger.    New management could be a buying trigger.   An application hitting the end of its support cycle often triggers buying.   A company investing in another product could be a trigger for your service (or maybe its a trigger for your service in about 12 months).

One of the areas of potential waste in sales and marketing is overselling (or even over educating) when there is no trigger.   Yes, we need to build awareness,  but educating without a trigger–or exposing or creating a trigger–isn’t going to win any business today.  It may help in the future, but, frankly, you probably should invest less in those areas than ones where triggers exist (or you can create them easily).

So, my recommendation for opening the new year more effectively is to focus on triggers.  Build a list of the events or situations that trigger customers to buy your products or services.   Then expand that list with ideas for how you can determine if the trigger is going to occur (or is likely to occur).   Explore if there are ways you can use stories to create the trigger.     Prioritize the list based on which ones are most important to you for success.

Then, take a look at your sales and marketing approaches.  Are they tuned to triggers?  Do you oversell when a trigger is not present (is downloading a whitepaper ever a trigger (or is it a signal that a trigger may exist?)?)?   Can you look for patterns where triggers may occur and target you marketing and awareness efforts there?

Broad situational awareness of enterprises is very challenging.   Could a step in that direction be an intense focus on buying triggers?


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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: account-based-marketing  account-based-selling  buying-triggers  marketing  sales  situational-awareness  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Recognizing B2B Buying Triggers

  1. As a follow through with triggers, we create Account Specific Point Offerings that package a vendor’s product / service to resonate with the trigger. For example, we used the following ASPO for a Systems Integrator vendor: “I heard about your new company acquisition. This might cause incompatibilities in your IT landscape. I’m calling since I thought you may be looking for a way to integrate the IT systems of the two companies such that the incompatibilities are eliminated.” Based on the performance of this campaign, I can endorse your guidance to marketers to make increasing use of trigger-based marketing. Especially in crowded markets and times of decreasing attention span.

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