Two crucial elements of any B2B market research project are:
- Recruiting the right people, and
- Asking them the right questions.
In this video, we’ll discuss the best ways to recruit the right participants for a B2B research study – and how to get the most valuable information from them.
Everyday life presents us with numerous examples of where you need to bring a few things together to make something awesome. For example, planes without engines – they don’t fly very far. Reese’s peanut butter cups –well you’re going to need peanut butter and chocolate to make one of those. And the atoms that make up the entire universe – for each atom, you’re going to need protons and neutrons and electrons.
So when it comes to B2B market research, what are those core elements? What are those core building blocks that you need to conduct a successful study? I would suggest that it’s two things, what I call right people and right questions. From a right people standpoint, what we’re talking about here is we’re talking about people that have the right background.
So they come from the right industry sector, they come from the right size company, they have experience with the right types of business problems that you want to investigate, and they maybe even have the right experience with certain technology stacks. But in this scenario, we also have to bring two things together.
In many cases in the market research industry, people turn to panel firms and expert networks to source these individuals, but that’s never going to be enough. You’re always going to have to layer on it another piece of the puzzle, much like that Reese’s Peanut butter cup I talked about earlier. And what that is, is a firm that has context.
More importantly, they have shared context with you. They have experience with your type of business. They understand the type of prospects and customers that you want to interact with. They understand the technology you sell and the type of products and services you go to market with. They might even have deep experience with the types of marketing and sales and product development strategies that you leverage.
And if you can marry a firm that has that context with an expert network or a panel firm that’s providing you, in essence, the raw material – now you’ve got a really good combination. And another way to think about this is, is just a trip to a grocery store. For example, you know, you can go to a Kroger or a Safeway or a Costco, basically kind of a big box grocery store, and they’ll present you with all kinds of options that you might want to consider.
This is somewhat akin to a panel firm. Lots of choices, not a lot of guidance from the panel firm or the grocer in this case as to what you’re going to put in your cart. And then you can take another step beyond that perhaps, and think about an expert network. When you think about an expert network, in the analogy of kind of grocery shopping, it’s somewhat akin to going to like a Trader Joe’s or a New Seasons or a Whole Foods.
Well, now maybe we’ve narrowed the pie somewhat. You know, our choices are now maybe more organic. They’re a little more focused. Maybe they’re more locally sourced, but we still have a fundamental problem. When we go down that aisle filled with 20 different types of almond milk, we’re the one that has to make that choice unless we have someone who can help us curate that.
Someone who’s akin to somewhat of a personal shopper of sorts so that we don’t have to think about all the different types of almond milk. The right one is just going to end up in our basket. And that’s what happens when you marry a market research firm who understands the context you live in as a B2B organization with that raw fuel that you get from a panel firm or an expert network.
And when you combine those, then you can get to that core goal of getting the right people in your study. And if you don’t have the right people, well then frankly, you’re just asking questions of the wrong people and what’s the point in that? The second thing is that point about right questions. So this also is an issue of shared context.
If you don’t have enough shared context with the participants of the study in this case, you’re never going to be able to ask deep enough questions. And deep questions are what leads to great insights. An example here from everyday life is when you think about your job, if a child asks you about your job, you’re going to tend to kind of take a slightly broader approach to answering a child’s question about your job. You’re going to use broad based analogies. You’re not going to get into the nitty gritty of the technical and business problems that you face every day. In essence, you’re going to dumb it down a little bit, and that’s not a bad thing because you want that child in that case to understand, at least at a rudimentary level, what your day has been like.
But how does that change when you talk to a peer, when you talk to somebody who has that shared context? Well, now you’re going to get into all this deep detail about the technical challenges maybe you faced in implementing a solution or the business problems you surmounted. You know, you get a lot more depth and context, and the only way to elicit that kind of response is if you have some shared experience. That comes from having talked to a lot of people, like the people you’re talking to at that moment. You have a lot of experience with that type of prospect or that type of customer or that type of business problem. And then you can dive deep and that leads to meaningful insights.
So in sum, I would say that the two major elements that anyone needs, if they’re about to embark on a B2B market research project is the right people and the right questions, and if you don’t have those, it’s probably better not to start at all.