When considering market opportunity research, you may think a straightforward quantitative survey is enough to get to know the landscape. But if you don’t understand why your customers think the way they do and the environments in which they operate, you can’t possibly have the whole picture, and you’ll end up creating a bad game plan.
“If you don’t get what’s going on in their brains, you’re not going to be able to sell to them, you’re not going to be able to build for them, and you’re not going to be able to market to them.” – Philippe Boutros, Director & Chief of Staff, Cascade Insights
Additionally, you could completely miss the right audience and get feedback from the wrong people.
That’s why a mixed-methodology approach that combines quant with qual works better to unlock the insights you need to succeed in a new market.
Start with Qual to Narrow Your Focus
To ensure you get the most value from a market opportunity study, we recommend a three-step approach. First, you should start with qualitative methods, then focus on open-source intelligence (OSINT), and finish off with quantitative viewpoints.
Doing qualitative research (in-depth interviews) first with buyers, competitors, and channel partners helps you:
- Understand the nuances of the real-world customer problems you must address.
- Narrow the focus and establish what you should measure in your quantitative analysis.
- Define the edges of the market to know who not to sell to.
Quant surveys and OSINT can then determine size and segments within the market and give you the true scope and scale of your opportunity.
Case Study: How Qual Contextualizes Quant
A multinational Sales Ops software firm we worked with wanted to better understand the value that customers placed on on-premises versus cloud-based CPQ solutions. It also wanted to collect intelligence that could inform a potential decision to launch a SaaS-based offering.
To inform that decision, we interviewed current customers and former sellers in the industry. We also surveyed over 150 organizations currently using a CPQ solution, and combed through competitor websites and marketing materials.
In this example, quantitative research specified information such as:
- What business problems CPQ must solve.
- Which configuration capabilities customers value most.
- How to structure the pricing model based on customer needs.
But qual provided the context to understand the significance behind the data. Quotes from customers and former sellers helped explain:
- How customers prefer their CPQ solution to be hosted: on-premises or SaaS.
- If they feel SaaS CPQ is the future.
- What the table stakes are for a modern CPQ solution.
- Where competitors fall short in the market.
Although it was clear that brand awareness and the need to appeal to different departments in the decision-making process would be a challenge for this company, our research concluded that there was an unmet demand for this, especially with smaller organizations.
If You Build It, They Will Come…But Only with the Right Insights
You know you can’t take a shot in the dark when it comes to your strategy. But you may not have the time or the budget for a mixed-methodology approach. In that case, we recommend prioritizing qual over quant.
This is a valuable method for companies interested in a small market opportunity study who want to get a snapshot of the target market, the buyers in that market, and their needs. The information obtained from qual will help establish if the company should invest in the space. It answers the essential question, “Is this a good market to go after?”
Case Study: Go to Market with Confidence
For example, we recently explored how the market opportunity leader in cable diagnostics might be able to develop a new solution focused on advanced analytics.
As part of the qual study, we interviewed data scientists and BI analysts at utilities companies. Their knowledge and personal experience regarding efficiency, the power grid, modeling capacity, etc. provided useful insights for our study.
Our next step was to analyze insights on buyers’ planned initiatives, ongoing pain points, and gaps in existing solutions they perceived to exist. We were then able to confidently recommend that our client could benefit from moving ahead with their plans for a new analytics offering.
Ask the Right People
Either way, you must understand who you’re talking to and what insights they can offer.
“You can design the world’s best survey or be the world’s best focus group moderator, but if you don’t have the right people in the room or on the phone, you’re not going to get useful data.” —Philippe Boutros
A pretty standard audience for B2B qual research is current and competitor customers. Current customers can explain why they made the decision to buy from you and if they would choose to do so again.
If you only talk to your buyers, however, you have an extremely narrow perspective. While it feels nice to get the affirmation that you’re doing something right, your competitors’ buyers tell the other side of the story. They’ll tell you where and why you lose.
Listen to the thoughts and experiences of other key players too including competitors and channel partners. You’ll get a comprehensive narrative when adding in the point of view of these other “characters”.
Competitor’s former sellers, for one, can speak volumes on customer pain points and what the market values.
Channel partners, on the other hand, have more of a neutral mindset because they tend to sell multiple brands and aren’t as devoted to one particular offering.
Mind the Gap
In England, it’s common to see signs that say “Mind the Gap” in metro and train stations. It alerts riders to watch their step, so they don’t endanger themselves near the tracks.
Market opportunity research helps you mind the gap. Instead of taking the wrong step and hurting yourself with business losses or missed opportunities, the research helps you focus on the gap and learn how to best approach it to move forward for the future.
This can include filling the gap between insights and action—between what buyers say and what you’re supposed to do with the information.
If you need any help navigating the unknown, we’re here to guide you. We have the right B2B tech context, expertise, and real-world insights to help you succeed.
As journalist John Dickerson said:
Chess masters don’t evaluate all the possible moves. They know how to discard 98 percent of the ones they could make and then focus on the best choice of the remaining lot. That’s the way expertise works in other fields, too: Wise practitioners recognize familiar patterns and put their creativity, improvisation, and skill toward the marginal cases.
With 15 years of experience in the B2B technology sector, Cascade Insights can help your business understand the best opportunities to pursue and how to proceed with that knowledge. Learn more about our market research here.
Special thanks to Scott Swigart, Cascade Insights President & CTO, and Philippe Boutros, Cascade Insights Director & Chief of Staff, for advising on this piece.