The challenge of influencing B2B decision makers will increase with more reliance on digital communications platforms, complex internal decision-making at many organizations, and lengthy sales cycles across most industries.
Developing research that results in truly impactful outcomes with B2B decision makers requires a sensitivity to the nuances of each context. Manufacturing decision makers have different needs than financial services executives, and IT professionals have different behaviors than the HR team, to cite few differences.
Acquiring a deep understanding of the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of these different industries and professionals is essential to maximizing the impact of product, brand, marketing, and communication strategies.
Radius speaks with thousands of B2B influencers and decision-makers a year. Here is our guide to developing B2B research that will lead to the business and marketing outcomes you need:
Make sure that the research objectives are written based on a B2B perspective, and not based on the end-consumer experience. Build internal stakeholder interviews into the design. Use these conversations with a cross-functional selection of those that manage the business to obtain a better understanding of the constructs, issues, and goals of the organization.
Realize that there are two potential populations—the business entity and the individual working within a business of interest. For example, if you want to understand consideration of lending partners among auto dealers, you are looking to count each auto dealer as one unit of measure. One person from the auto dealer would be interviewed, and would communicate the attitudes and behaviors of that business.
Understanding the population is critical to the construction of the sample plan. Spend time conducting secondary research (online, D&B, other list sources, etc.) on the population you are looking to survey to estimate the composition of the market. This will allow you to set interview quotas appropriately.
Don’t assume online panels or list sources are representative to the population of interest. Be sure to communicate the census construct of your population and make sure survey invites and incoming responses are comprised properly.
Screen for only the factors that are necessary for the study. The B2B audience is more difficult to reach than consumers and thus has a lower incidence (and less patience). Understand that fraud rates are higher for B2B research, especially when using online panels. Therefore, build eligibility criteria within lists so that it is hard for a fraudulent respondent to guess the answer patterns that will allow them into the main survey. Avoid simple yes/no questions.
Allowing participants the flexibility to engage when they are able, and on their terms, (i.e. web cams, online interfaces, etc.) can make the process smoother.
Plan for an overage of interviews (10-15% above quota) that will allow for bad or fraudulent respondents to be removed.
Create multi-tiered criteria for removal and check data on an ongoing basis while field period is still active. Replace removals in a way that maintains the integrity of the composition of responses. Use red herring questions and open-ended responses to catch fraudulent respondents. Rely on your secondary research and prior knowledge of markets to determine face validity of all results.
What are your B2B research plans? Contact us to discuss more B2B research best practices.