Market research companies may well be busier than ever this year, as changes in the economic and political landscape reflect on B2B buyer behaviours. It’s no great secret that uncertainty affects business. However, what happens when uncertainty starts to lift and B2B purse strings gently begin to stir? Do all our clients return to their hungry selves, or can we expect the competition to sweep in and tempt some away.
Often the folk called in to ask these questions are market research companies like Blue Donkey. Our task is to seek out buyers and delve deeply enough to understand the motivations and triggers that will keep them loyal, or have them jumping ship to the competition. Here is what we’ve learned in our 22 years at the coalface.
Market research companies set out with a defined plan about what they want to understand. Often a problem, opportunity, new product idea, or threat has been identified and the questionnaire will be designed to throw light on it. Research with a flimsy objective such as ‘What’s the next big thing’ (yes that happens!) will have vague outcomes at best.
2. What are you really thinking
Unwitting messages are really important. These usually appear in the tone of voice, or are implied but not explicit answers to questions. Market research companies listen carefully for cues as to what a respondent is saying beneath their answers, for example, if a respondent answers a question then add the words ‘I suppose’, market research companies may gently probe to see if there is more to the response.
Market research companies can be objective, which is why organisations will usually decide to outsource. A company’s internal team will naturally have a cognitive bias in the way they understand and report answers, and they may feel protective or defensive. Market research companies won’t feel personally affected by outcomes so will be able to keep a professional distance.
4. Market research is market research. Sales is sales
Market research companies will never ever take sales leads from market research. Your calls must be either sales, or market research. It’s unethical and frankly rude to dress your call up as market research if what you are actually looking to do is find sales leads. Responses or respondent details are not be linked to the report, they should be completely anonymous.
5. Curiosity didn’t really kill the cat
It’s important to remember that every interaction with a client or potential client is a potential opportunity to learn something new. Market research should not start and end with market research companies, it should form a part of everyone’s role. Curiosity is good for business, how often did a question that you asked a client as an afterthought lead to tangible new opportunities, upsell, or innovations?
According to one of the world’s foremost authorities on strategic marketing professor Malcolm McDonald, the first step to business success is all about understanding what customers value, and how best to deliver it.