Guest Author: Brandon Redlinger, Director of Growth at Engagio
Before an American spaceflight mission begins, in-flight controllers monitoring various systems are checked against a rigorous pre-launch checklist. At NASA, this responsibility falls to the Nasa Test Director.
They’re the leader of the shuttle test team, responsible for directing all flight crew, orbiter, external tank/solid rocket booster and ground support testing in the shuttle launch countdown. Their boss, the Launch Director, determines whether the mission is a go/no go.
It’s kind of like your internal marketing team. Before you are ready to determine whether an account-based campaign is ready to go, it’s critical to learn as much as possible about the target accounts in question. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is that each and every outreach is relevant, and resonates deeply.
You must know the value you can (and will) provide to your target account. I’m not talking about answering the question “What’s your value proposition?” I’m talking about answering the question, “What’s your value proposition as it pertains to me?” This means you have to know about them, their industry, their leadership team, their challenges, etc.
Before you give the go-ahead to account-based activity, here are the types of insight you should be looking for.
Seek These Types of Account Insights:
The term ‘value’ is one of the most over-used yet misunderstood terms thrown around by salespeople today. They all promise to deliver value, but they don’t do the work to really understand what value means to the target accounts they’re selling into.
Enterprise sales are complex. Companies don’t have to purchase solutions frequently, and it’s often the case that they don’t have an established buying process. Said another way, they don’t know how to go about buying what you’re selling.
You must become the trusted expert. This means being part Sherlock Holmes (they’re relying on your to help solve their business case), part parent (they’re relying on you to have their best interests in mind), and part Dr. John Carter (they’re relying on you to take the information given, synthesize it, and properly diagnose their situation).
That’s why it’s so important to start off your Account Based Everything process with a comprehensive checklist. You need to know as much as you can about:
The target account’s market – The market dynamics, news, trends, growth drivers and inhibitors, M&A activity, etc.
The target company – Their stated strategy, their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; competitors (and which similar companies use your solution already); their org chart and unique buying centers; which buying centers own your products, which own competitors’ products and which are open (whitespace analysis); any recent sales triggers (new funding, new hires, etc.); their culture and values, etc.
The target personas – The agenda of each member of the buying team; their priorities, prejudices, preferences, styles, tactics; where they’ve worked in the past (and what systems that company used), etc.
The relationships inside the account – How each key contact relates to the other members of the team; who reports to whom; who holds budgets; which are the influencers, blockers, mobilizers, enablers…
Your connections to the account – Your existing connections to the key contacts; previous deals; customer service experiences; your experience with their close competitors; LinkedIn connections to people you know; university or past company ties, etc.
ABM Account Insight Checklist
Before your next mission, here’s a pre-launch checklist to make sure you’ve done your homework:
☑ Industry dynamics
☑ Key trends
☑ Growth drivers and inhibitors
☑ Financial health
☑ Growth areas vs. ‘cash cows’
☑ Renewal risk
☑ Initiatives and organizational priorities
☑ Triggers (funding, acquisitions, personnel moves, etc.)
The Buying Centers
☑ Org chart
☑ Key buying centers
☑ Whitespace within buying centers
Relationships and Connections
☑ Key contact profiles
☑ Relationships to each other
☑ Relationships to your company (relationship map)
☑ Attitudes, preferences, biases
Once you’ve selected your target accounts, research and discovered insights, it’s time to reach out and start conversations. One of the best ways to do this is with a playbook. This playbook should contain all of the Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success Plays that your team runs in order to drive engagement and conversion at target accounts.
When you’re designing your playbook, the key elements you must take into consideration are:
- The Players – Who should be involved on your team, and who should you be targeting on the buying team? If you only have one player involved on your team, you’re wasting precious time, energy, and resources. Get more people involved, like your Head of Marketing, an engineer, even your executive staff.
- The Timing – What is the right flow? The right message to the right person at the wrong time is as good as garbage. Timing matters!
- The Touches – How many times do you reach out to each key persona at your target account? Too many, and you’re going to be an annoying pest. Too few and you risk letting a more aggressive competitor swoop in and steal the deal.
- The Channels – What are you using to deliver your message? Diversifying your channels is one of the most effective things you can do to break into an account. Be everywhere your targets are, but be there in a non-intrusive way. Add social, 1-to-1 video, direct mail, etc. to the channel mix.
- The Content – What should you say? “Just following up” or “just checking in” are the worst messages to send. Every touch has to provide value. Offer a new insights, share news, re-emphasize business value, or teach them something.
Building a playbook can be a daunting task, but if you want to steal Engagio’s, we reveal everything from strategies and frameworks to scripts and templates in our latest guide, The Engagio PlayBook.
This is how the finest teams truly orchestrate Account Based Everything.
If your team is able to uncover insight at each level outlined above, this will translate directly into relevance and resonance, which drive engagement and, ultimately, deal success. Just don’t make this common mistake…
3…2…1… Houston, we have liftoff!