What Are Compelling Events?

When we talk to sales professionals that have real, business issue compelling events, the following words come to mind:

  • Urgency
  • Speed
  • Confidence
  • Certainty
  • Commit

We all know we can close deals without compelling events, but there’s a good chance our deals will get pushed. We also know that investing time to uncover compelling events increases certainty that deals will close, and close faster. Conclude there isn’t a compelling event and quickly qualify deal outs of our pipeline. Whatever the outcome is from customer conversations and compelling event exploration, the goal is clarity on where to spend our precious time.

Uncovering or co-creating compelling events with customers is proven to make deals close faster. The magic happens when you tap into your customer’s urgency to solve their top business problems. Once we help a customer uncover their compelling event, they’ll push us to accelerate timelines to solve their business problems. That’s when our sales campaigns hit top speed.

Compelling Event Observations

How effective are your teams at creating compelling events to qualify deal better and progress deals faster? Here’s what we seeing:

  • 60% of deals don’t have the compelling event filled in at all
  • Compelling events list problems, not specific time-based initiatives
  • No sequence of events plan to winning deals
  • Many deals lack the why, when and who

A Compelling Event Is Fuel for Sellers

A compelling event is a customer’s business pain that needs to be solved by a certain date, or else, something bad happens to the executive who owns solving that problem. The impact of the consequence of inaction is the lever we use to accelerate a deal. It becomes the anchor of our sales Enablement campaign messaging. Our job as sellers is to tie our solutions to real compelling events.

Many sellers, especially here in Silicon Valley, think their solutions are “nice to have” and they don’t have a compelling event. If you have a target profile buyer, then you’re already on your way to uncovering and quantifying compelling events. I promise, once you uncover a buyer’s performance metrics and top initiatives, you’ll find a compelling event. Then, work backwards and build a sequence of steps (aka close plan, success plan, action plan etc) to help your customer solve the problem they have revealed as a top priority, using your solution.

Here are three buyer personas and a compelling event for each:

  • VP Marketing: New product/campaign/website by a certain date…
  • VP Customer Service: New call center and training new call center agents on a certain date…
  • VP Sales: Sales kick off event on a certain date…

With each of these compelling events types the trick is to find the initiatives that are a top priority, then show your executive how you can get them on a path to solving it. Once you do that, your deal will move super fast.

For example, if you sell technology to a VP Marketing and you’ve uncovered that they’re launching a new website on April 15, 2015. Your solution will help them make their website better. The way you drive urgency is to set up a sequence of steps that gets your technology trialled, personalized and operational before the April 15th date to ensure your customer will confidently hit their goals. It’s not your compelling event, it’s your customer’s compelling event.

Questions To Ask Your Buyer’s To Uncover Compelling Events

Here are a few questions you can use to engage your buyer’s in a meaningful conversation about their priorities and their appetite to solve them together with you. These questions assume a relationship has been developed. These would not be the very first questions I’d ask someone one on a first call.

  1. What are your top priorities and problems?
  2. How do your priorities stack rank?
  3. Who cares the most about these priorities and why?
  4. How would you quantify the impact of solving these priorities?
  5. What happens if your problems don’t get addressed?
  6. Who will be impacted the most if they are not solved?
  7. When do they need to get solved by? Why?
  8. What’s holding us back from getting started?

There are many more questions. These are just a sampling of a conversation flow to help uncover a buyer’s compelling event. Once you identify a top executive’s priority, tied to a specific date, that is mapped to your solution, then you can create a sequence of events to drive urgency around rolling out your solution to meet their timeline.

Integrate Compelling Events With Your Forecasting and Coaching Cadence

Since 2014, SalesHood powered thousands of Deal Reviews and Sales Coaching Huddles. We analyzed the win loss data and sales cycle time of 1000 randomly selected deals from 10 companies. The data concluded that there was a strong positive correlation (.8) of deals that have a customer defined compelling event to faster sales cycle time and more deals closed as won vs. lost.

We learned a lot about how deals are accelerated when sales professionals uncover real customer compelling events.

Here’s a summary of what we learned:

  1. Compelling events are alway based on internal or external business pressures that are tied to an executive’s top priorities and compensation.
  2. Compelling events are time-based and result in a consequence if no action is taken.
  3. If your compelling event is more than fifteen words, then you don’t have a compelling event.
  4. Compelling events are uncovered through thoughtful discovery and/or created by working with champions to re-prioritize initiatives.
  5. Compelling events are tied to measurable and quantifiable outcomes.
  6. Compelling events are not our month/quarter/year end or a special “today only” discount.
  7. Get to a compelling event faster by answering these questions: What are they buying? Why are they buying? When are they buying? Who is buying? Who is paying?
  8. Your sales team is the first line of defense against compelling event blinds spots and “happy ears” in deals.
  9. Compelling events result in better win-rates and faster deal velocity.
  10. Get beyond the business problem/pain/priority to uncover a compelling event. Be curious and get to the why and by when.

Share this list with your sales teams. Implement these ideas in your deal reviews, quarterly business reviews and forecast calls to immediately move the needle and grow top-line revenue. Make compelling events part of your sales values and operational cadence.

About the Author

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $500M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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