Train For Triggers

By: Alex Shattuck

Even in sales there is only so much time in the day. Often times, as business owners and leaders, we find ourselves asking more and more of our employees. Sometimes the lines between customer service and sales can be easily blurred. The constant demand for more out of employees can easily lead them to resenting the role or their employer and ultimately can lead to burn out. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can ask for more without adding to their workload. I’ve read that somewhere between 45-90% of what we do throughout the day is habitual. Let’s be real conservative and say 50% of what we do in our waking ours is habitual. That means we walk around this earth on autopilot half the time. This isn’t a bad thing if we understand this and capitalize on it. The best way to successfully accomplish this is to train for triggers. 

Regardless of the industry or the employee’s role, I can tell you that there are triggers for opportunities all around us in the workplace. If it is important to you to see your company grow without increasing your payroll or marketing expense, then there’s no better place to start training your teams than training for triggers. 

Years ago I went into my local car dealership’s service center because my vehicle had broken down a day or so prior, leaving me waiting for a tow truck on the side of the road. When discussing the cost to fix the car with the service tech he asked me what my long term plans were with this car and whether I had considered replacing it. It had been on my mind and so I acknowledged that and within moments I was sitting in front of an amazing car sales woman. Within what felt like a few more minutes I was driving off the lot with a new car. Since then I’ve purchased 3 other vehicles from them AND have referred family and friends there resulting in four additional sales for the dealership. 

That didn’t happen by accident. The service tech recognized I was about to put a decent amount of money into an older vehicle without a lot of value, and that I was also one who could afford a new vehicle. That situation triggered him to ask a question and immediately get me in front of a sales professional that had the qualities, knowledge, and skill sets to articulate why it made the most sense for me to replace that vehicle. She made it extremely easy for me to drive off with a new vehicle that same day. That service tech didn’t fail to recognize the trigger and he also didn’t have to spend any time trying to figure out his next move once the trigger occurred. This location typically has five service techs working. Let’s assume they each see that same trigger four times per day. That is 20 triggered opportunities to get someone to trade in their old vehicle (where they make a killing also) and get them into a new vehicle. I was probably easier than the average sale but let’s assume a 10% close ratio on those 20 opportunities. That’s two trade-ins and two cars sold per business day that would not have taken place without recognizing and acting on that trigger! 10 sales per week! 520 per year! Now add that onto what the sales teams are already doing to sell cars and this dealership is crushing it! All that additional revenue WITHOUT any additional energy from the employees recognizing the triggers and no additional marketing or payroll spent from the owners. 

Now that you are all pumped up about triggers let’s dive deeper. To understand why this works we must first understand how our brain works. With proper training for triggers you’ll find that these triggers become habits. The basal ganglia part of our brain controls voluntary motor functions. These voluntary motor functions include habits. Our prefrontal cortex controls our thought process and decision making. Currently, when our employees run into a “trigger” their next move is processed through their prefrontal cortex. This means there is a thought process around the trigger and a decision has to be made around what to do with this trigger situation. This leaves room for error and takes effort. The error can be a failure to recognize the next move because of inexperience OR it could be an error stemming from LAZINESS. Neither is good. 

Actions and activities from these triggers become habits through consistent repetition. The more we train for triggers, the faster these triggers will start to bypass the prefrontal cortex and go directly through our basal ganglia. This is when the magic happens. We see our employees become more productive and they see these successes without additional labor or effort on their part. This is when they are successfully leveraging their time on autopilot. Again, this is all extremely powerful and very exciting when discussing what it can do to our business, but keep in mind that the same power can be equally devastating if complacency sets in and bad habits are created. If you and your team train for triggers to create productive actions and activities that turn into habits, everybody wins.

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