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 (NTD).

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.

No pressure.

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. 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:

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…

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’ and which are open (whitespace analysis); any recent sales triggers (new funding, new hires, etc.); their culture and values…

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)…

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…

ABE Account Insight Checklist

Before your next mission, here’s a pre-launch checklist to make sure you’ve done your homework:

The Market

☑ Industry dynamics
☑ Key trends
☑ Competitors
☑ Growth drivers and inhibitors

The Company

☑ 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

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.