How To Hire World-Class Analysts: B2B Market Research podcast

Episode #89 of the B2B Market Research Podcast – How To Hire World-Class Analysts

We cover:

  • Why a service mentality is the most important attribute.
  • Why the ability to present and persuade is crucial.
  • Why you need analysts who are comfortable with different types of intelligence collection and analysis.
  • Why you should look for the data scientist. Not the data pessimist.

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Speaker: Sean Campbell – CEO of Cascade Insights

Modified Transcript:

Welcome to another episode of the B2B Market Research podcast. In this podcast episode, we’re going to talk about four key things you need to keep in mind if you’re going to hire world-class analysts. Before we get into that, a few brief programming notes.

This podcast is brought to you by Cascade Insights. Cascade Insights specializes in competitive intelligence and market research services for B2B technology companies. Our specialization helps us deliver detailed insights that generalist firms simply can’t match. To learn more about us, go to, or to check out our free resources, sign up for our newsletter.

With that, let’s get into the podcast. One of the things that happens to me a fair amount when I engage with competitive intelligence and market research teams is that I hear a common refrain: How can I hire better people? How can I find better analysts? In all those conversations I’ve noticed some degrees of commonality, and a few things that I think are important to consider if you’re going to hire an analyst, and especially if you are looking for world-class analysts.

Key Hiring Tip #1: Look For A Service Mentality

So one of the very first things that people get wrong during the hiring process, is that they don’t look at the individual and ask “how is this person going to behave when they’re asked to deliver a service, and they’re not supporting a product?”

The first thing you need to think about is that you need someone with a service mentality. It can be difficult in a lot of companies to optimize for this during the hiring process, because the temptation is to hire someone with product experience. The assumption is that domain or product experience alone will lead to them becoming a meaningful contributor on the team. But the fallacy here is that a competitive intelligence team or a market research team isn’t producing a product, they’re a shared services team. In many ways they’re like an embedded consulting organization inside the larger partner organization.

Products and services are two worlds that are very, very different.

So one of the very first things that people get wrong during the hiring process, is that they don’t look at the individual and ask “how is this person going to behave when they’re asked to deliver a service, and they’re not supporting a product?”

Products and services are two worlds that are very, very different. The first thing you want to ask yourself: Does this individual have a history of doing any type of consulting services or services-oriented work? If they don’t, what attributes about them do you think will lead them to being able to make the leap from being more of a, let’s say, product person to someone who’s in essence a consultant embedded inside the larger organization?

Key Hiring Tip #2: Excel Skills Don’t Cut It

Next, presentation skills are crucial. When it comes to presentation skills, your new hire needs to believe that an Excel file doesn’t cut it or nor does a bar chart.

You also need someone whose primary presentation skill is not just picking interesting pictures or the colors for a deck. You’re not building a marketing deck, and nor are you writing a spec for a product. You’re building research. It needs to sing based on the data and insights it drives, not on the pictures or colors or merely based on the Excel data that goes along with it.

In short, are these folks focused on impacting decisions and removing uncertainty? Are they using their presentation skills and persuasive abilities to achieve those outcomes first and foremost?

Key Hiring Tip #3: Look For The Multi-Talented Analyst

You also need to avoid the people who are in love with a single method of intelligence collection. You need an analyst who can switch between methods. You need an analyst who’s equally comfortable searching for data via their web browser as they are picking up the phone.

You also need someone who’s not inclined to lock in on a single type of data, someone who doesn’t always look at financial data first or always look at voice of the customer research first. You need someone who can listen to different voices in the market. You need someone who doesn’t just listen to voice of sales or the voice of partners, or the voice of product engineering. The right person can essentially pick and choose from those voices as needed be to build effective research.

Key Hiring Tip #4: Data Pessimists Abound…Find the Data Scientist

Finally, you need someone who understands data the way a data scientist does, and you need to steer away from the people who are really just at their heart purely data pessimists. Of course, it’s important to be critical of the data you have on hand, but what you really need, the skill that is in short supply, is the ability to derive insights from the data.

You can find plenty of people that will criticize any given data set – and in many cases they’ll be right – so that skill isn’t necessarily a difficult one to find. The challenge is finding someone who can actually create an insight out of a pile of data, someone who’s really more of a data scientist than a data pessimist.

With that, I want to summarize the four key things you’ll want to look for when hiring a world-class analyst:

  1. Hire someone with a service mentality.
  2. Hire someone who has really exceptional presentation skills.
  3. Hire someone who’s not in love with any single research method.
  4. Focus on the data scientist, not the data pessimist.

Thanks for listening, and if you want to learn more about us, visit us at

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