B2B Research Essentials for Market Success

B2B research covers everything from brand perceptions, product fit, customer service requirements, sales and marketing strategies

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Market Research » B2B Research Essential for Market Success

In the heart of every thriving business lies a fundamental understanding of its customers. This understanding serves as the compass, guiding a company’s strategic planning, product development, marketing strategies, and more. B2B market research, a specialized type of research aimed at understanding businesses that are your clients, is the roadmap that provides this understanding.

​What is B2B Market Research?


B2B market research is the process businesses (that sell to other businesses, not consumers) take to gather data on what potential customers are looking for and what they need. The research can cover everything from brand perceptions, product fit, customer service requirements, sales and marketing strategies, and more.

By researching how your potential audience thinks, feels, and behaves, your decision-making and strategic planning for attracting your target market will be more effective. Not only that, but when you have customers on board, you won’t risk not delivering what they expect. You’ll also be better able to predict future trends and tackle issues before they happen.


Understanding B2B Market Research


While the principles of market research apply across B2C and B2B domains, the tactics often differ. B2B research digs into the psyche of businesses as prospective buyers. It aims to understand their needs, preferences, buying process, and the factors influencing these elements.

Businesses, unlike individual consumers, make decisions based on different parameters. They consider the long-term value, product fit within existing systems, and alignment with their strategic goals. Understanding these nuances is what sets B2B market research apart. 

The key differences between B2B market research and B2C market research are:

B2B research might be looking at more complex and niche markets
B2B customers may need more convincing than B2C customers, which means research needs to be more in-depth
B2B customers might be more scarce
B2B market research may take more time in the field
Things to ask your current customers or prospects:
Things to ask former clients:
Create a research panel:
Access an existing research panel or buy a list:
Advertising on your website, a trade journal, or an industry community:
Enterprise and other large businesses often have very focused or complicated market audiences, whereas B2C is often simpler or more general.
Your target audience will need higher incentives to choose to participate – so your research needs to be detailed enough that you can make the most attractive offer.
With a smaller sample pool, you may not be able to complete quantitative research and may need to focus on using qualitative research to meet your information needs.
For all of the above reasons, you probably won’t be able to complete data collection as quickly as you can with B2C research.
The best way to understand what attracts customers you want to your business is to ask the people who’ve already followed that path or who are considering that path.
Understanding why you’ve lost clients can be just as valuable as knowing why they came to you in the first place.
This requires much effort upfront and in ongoing maintenance but can pay dividends as you can access this panel repeatedly.
This is a costly approach, and B2B customers are unlikely to participate – but in some cases, it can be a good start.
Accessing participants may be easier if you advertise in spaces where potential customers might be.


B2B Research Methods


B2B market research methods can be broadly classified into primary research methods and secondary research methods.

Primary research is original data gathered through interactions with your target market. It involves specific research like surveys, interviews, and focus groups. These techniques help you understand your clients from a closer look, asking the right questions about their needs, their perception of your brand, and the factors affecting their buying process.

Secondary research, on the other hand, involves analyzing existing data. Landscape analysis, industry reports, and customer reviews fall under this category. This type of research helps you understand the broader industry community and your position within it.

Both primary and secondary research is essential for a comprehensive understanding of your B2B market. They feed into each other; primary research often raises questions that secondary research answers and vice versa.

A market research panel is the easiest and most reliable source of B2B market research respondents. A panel company solicits and vets participants who agree to participate in marketing research to share their opinions about products, services, and suppliers in their industry. To join a panel, participants must provide extensive information about themselves so the panel company can verify that they are who they say they are.

There are two types of panel companies. Full-Service Panel Providers offer access to their extensive, proprietary database of millions of B2B participants, often globally. Most Full-Service Panel Providers also offer their programming and hosting services for online surveys and data tabulation and reporting services. On the other hand, Panel Resellers don’t recruit and maintain a proprietary panel but provide samples aggregated from other panel providers.


The Power of Qualitative and Quantitative Data in B2B Research


In the quest to understand your B2B market, both qualitative and quantitative data play crucial roles.

Qualitative research gives a human touch to your data. Through methods like focus groups and one-on-one interviews, you can understand the motivations, perceptions, and challenges of your clients. It helps answer complex market research questions like, “Why do clients prefer our products?” or “What challenges do businesses face when integrating our products into their systems?”

On the other hand, quantitative data provides numerical evidence to support or challenge your business decisions. It helps you measure brand perception, customer satisfaction, and the competitive advantage of your products. By transforming customer needs into quantifiable parameters, it provides a clear picture of where you stand in your target market.


B2B Research Team



How a B2B Panel Market Research Company Can Help


Navigating the complex landscape of B2B market research can be a daunting task, especially for small businesses or those new to B2B. That’s where a B2B market research company comes in.

These companies are experts in conducting and analyzing business research. They have the tools, techniques, and experience to extract meaningful insights from complex data sets. They can help businesses formulate the right questions, choose the best way to gather data, and interpret the results to make strategic decisions.

Working with a B2B market research company can be especially beneficial for large businesses that cater to niche markets. These companies can provide a deep dive into these niche segments, helping businesses understand their unique needs and preferences.

Utilizing an online panel provider will increase your success in reaching the right business audiences with an online research methodology; however, choosing the right panel provider is critical. A reputable panel provider will be able to answer your specific project-related questions and also be able to talk about how they recruit and manage their panels.

A reputable market research company will offer its response to ESOMAR’s 28 Questions, the research industry’s detailed questions about its panel operations and practices. When you’re screening B2B panel providers, you’ll want to ensure they have a few key processes to help ensure that you’re getting the online panel quality for which you’re paying.

In addition to solid panel recruiting and management, here are some additional tips to look for in your B2B panel partner:

  • Specialization in B2B: Some panel providers focus on business-to-consumer panels, and then recruit from their consumer panels to find B2B respondents. A true B2B panel will have the expertise and proven experience with the B2B marketplace that you need to provide quality respondents and hence, quality data.
  • Categories of B2B markets: Look for panel categories focused on industry and role, product or service, or markets.
  • Targeted Recruiting: Ask your potential B2B panel provider how they recruit panel members. Find a provider who has a well-thought-out process in how they engage their participants.
  • Vetting Process: Just because a panelist claims to work a particular job or live in a specific country doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Talk with your panel provider about the steps they take to vet, confirm, and verify identity, professional credentials, and other demographics.
  • Multiple Reward Programs: Panelists will be motivated by different incentives. An experienced B2B panel provider will offer a variety of rewards and incentives to recruit, retain, and reward their best panelists.
  • Ongoing Quality Control: Just because a professional fits particular survey criteria today doesn’t mean that will hold in six months. Talk with your panel provider to find out how frequently panelist data is confirmed or updated. And how they identify and get rid of respondents who do not provide quality data.


Market research is a vital component of a successful business plan and provides invaluable information to new and seasoned B2B companies. Developing a strong partnership with your B2B panel provider can help ensure quality results that will guide you to success.

Learn how we can help you with your B2B Research.


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Bart Borkosky

Bart Borkosky


Bart is Chief Research Officer at OvationMR and is responsible for online panel and Online Sample Data Quality. He also consults with clients on sampling design for various types of online research campaigns. Bart can be reached at Bart.Borkosky@ovationmr.com

OvationMR is a global provider of first-party data for those seeking solutions that require information for informed business decisions.

OvationMR is a leader in delivering insights and reliable results across a variety of industry sectors around the globe consistently for market research professionals and management consultants.

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