In bank sales training, one of the most talked about concepts today is the “trigger event.” A trigger event is a notable event that has occurred in a customer’s or potential customer’s world that has them more open to a change or to using a product. For example, a customer’s competitor announced a major acquisition. This causes your customer to think about why they aren’t looking for an acquisition. The feeling of losing ground makes your customer open to assistance from your bank.
If you are aware of trigger events that impact your customers, it shows you understand their industry and that you are thinking proactively. It shows that you truly believe in the partnership and aligns your interest with theirs. Equally important is that a trigger event gives a reason to engage a customer and, if handled correctly, dramatically shortens the sales cycle.
We went back and pulled some of the successful trigger events that we have used or seen over used the past year. We present the top 10 most effective ones in order to get you thinking:
- Any bad experience with a competitor – More customer service, a declination on a loan, a fee hike or just lack of attention have all been successful triggers around prompting a customer to look into switching banks or expanding with yours.
- Change in interest rates – Rates are a huge sales event trigger and not used enough in banking. Any time rates do, or are poised to move up or down, that event can prompt a customer to move cash, increase debt levels or refinance.
- Growth – Consistent growth over 12% per annum has proven a statistical trigger for a company that is looking around to physically expand, need more inventory financing or consider additional banking services.
- M&A - Like our example above, M&A gets everyone thinking about what they could be doing. By providing a team of professionals, education or general guidance, your bank can use mergers and acquisition activity within an industry to drive more sales.
- New equipment – This is the most overlooked, but is one of the most effective in banking. Any time a piece of major new equipment hits the market that can give your customer cost savings or a competitive edge, it is worthy of a discussion. A new PET scanner for a doctor’s group, new digital x-ray equipment for dentist or a new laser cutter for a machine shop fabricator are all from real case studies that loan officers have used to generate business.
- New Risk – New regulation, a recent court ruling that sets precedence or new law may prompt additional spending by a customer so that they might require financing.
- New strategy – Any change of strategy might prompt the need for greater financing or use of products
- New leadership – A changing of the guard in the form of a new CEO, new partner or management restructuring might prompt more of an openness to changing. Showing the customer how your bank can help the new leadership look good might be just the angle that is needed.
- Competitor’s new product or product success– Similar to M&A, an announcement of a new product or business line by a competitor may spark your customer into activity. Similarly, proven success in a particular business line may prompt your commercial customer into action. Hopefully, that activity will require the support of a bank.
Sales-oriented business development officers specialize for a reason because it helps them get to know an industry. These officers often scour the Internet and trade publications noting trigger events that can help them drive emails and phones calls in an effort to engage the customer and prompt action. Often times, sales calls are made with the sole objective of learning what trigger events have taken place.
We also point out that the trigger event could have taken place quite a while ago, it could have happened recently, or it could be on the horizon. The important point is to teach your bank sales staff how to recognize and how to use trigger events to help the loan, treasury management and bank product sales effort. If your bank prides itself on service and professes to be a valued partner, then make sure they understand how to use trigger events effectively as it can be a very potent tool to drive bank product sales.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on July 24, 2014