B2B Research Essentials to Grow a Supply Chain Business
Your business success depends on your customer and marketplace feedback
What is B2B Research?
When starting a new venture, launching a new product, or maintaining your competitive advantage and building your brand, B2B research is essential. To grow a brand and establish a positive reputation you need to have trust. For this equity to occur you need to build relationships with potential customers and current customers.
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Research is a great vehicle for understanding not only how clients and would be clients see things, but also the types of questions they have. As a matter of fact, research helps your organization to understand key preferences and requirements through soliciting feedback from these B2B audiences:
- Other stakeholders
Conducting competitor analysis by surveying or sampling a portion of that audience to understand their market strengths and weaknesses is another principal reason for using B2B research.
A company might want to learn more about an unmet product or service need before releasing a new offering. Equally important, organizations will also want to understand what contributes to employee turnover or what attracts prospective team members to a particular organization.
Discovering the answers to these types of questions, as well as a list of other B2B market analysis questions, helps a company make better, smarter decisions that will significantly impact its bottom line.
Typical Benefits of B2B Research
Global B2B market research analysis helps businesses in many ways. Changes in industries, markets, the economy, and even in society can significantly impact organizations from year-to-year. A reputable B2B market research agency provides accurate snapshots of where your important audiences stand at any given moment and is critical in helping to answer these relevant business insights questions:
As you can see, strong B2B international market research methods can help you determine what current challenges exist. You will uncover where your competitive advantages can be highlighted and new opportunities present in your customer landscape. By using this information, you’ll be able to make smarter business decisions.
B2B Research Methods
In general, businesses conduct primary or secondary research. The latter involves analyzing information that has already been collected by other organizations and sources and drawing conclusions from that body of knowledge.
On the other hand, primary research is research that is intentionally conducted to answer a particular question or address a specific need.
Within primary research, companies will conduct qualitative and/or quantitative research, depending on their particular goals and requirements:
Qualitative research is typically conducted with smaller groups and goes into more depth to gather opinions, ideas, and thoughts of those being interviewed. Many businesses may use qualitative research methods such as online focus groups or in-depth interviews before or after quantitative research.
For example, if a company is looking to fill a particular need with a new product offering for HR Online Recruitment Platforms, it may want to talk with a group of HR Professionals to uncover:
- what their biggest challenges are in recruitment areas,
- what tools and information they wished they had, or
- what problems they cannot seem to solve.
Quantitative research would typically follow, and the feedback from qual interviews can then be refined into a more quantitative study (conducted via either an online survey or a telephone survey), which can measure things like:
- frequency of need,
- willingness to pay to meet that need,
- and preferences on how to learn about new products or services.
Concept testing can help you answer big questions like:
Is there a demand for your product or service?
And it can help you fine-tune issues such as pricing, packaging, and communication preferences?
When a company embarks on quantitative B2B international market research, it really wants to gather the hard data or numbers from a sample size that is a statistically significant portion of its target audience. The results are designed to help the business make better decisions about product development, pricing, and distribution, which will lead to greater profits and lower costs in the long run. Quantitative research may be in the form of a phone interview or, more typically, online surveys.
When is the best time to conduct B2B research?
Selecting the best timing for conducting a B2B study is two-fold: first, you need to consider when is the best time in relation to a particular project or product launch, and second, you need to think about the best time actually to complete the data collection with your target market.
The general rule is that the sooner you conduct the research, the better. For example, if you’re beginning a new business or launching a new product, it’s always a good idea to conduct some B2B market research before you invest a great deal of time and money pursuing a particular direction.
You can also consider natural moments of gathering feedback when your business reputation is at stake like before and after a crisis or even more, regular daily matters count; such as after a customer calls your service line, after a conflict resolution attempt, or once a purchase is made and received.
The second issue with timing has to do with the scheduling of the actual research. Practical considerations such as when a budget is available or renewed or how work plans are put in place may dictate beginning a project at the start of a calendar year or a specific quarter.
Another factor may be when you actually need the research results. For example, if the results are scheduled to be presented at the company’s shareholder meeting or during a specific customer conference, you’ll need to backtrack to determine the timing of the actual research.
Consider the busy periods for your particular target audience and avoid scheduling a survey during those times
You’ll also want to consider when your sample respondents may be more available to give you time for your study. Consider the busy periods for your particular target audience and avoid scheduling a survey during those times. For example, don’t send accountants surveys during tax season or ask for input from educators during the first week of school or during common exam periods.
How to Conduct B2B International Market Research
Many articles, contractors, and consultants provide a myriad of options for conducting B2B projects. On the one hand, companies with large budgets and complex research projects can hire a full-service research marketing agency to manage all the details, from strategy to compiling a comprehensive final report.
Many do-it-yourself options abound online on the opposite end of the spectrum, which can be executed inexpensively and quickly. However, results may or may not provide you with the range of market research reports you are specifically seeking.
Most businesses choose to conduct B2B research someplace between those two extremes. With all the technology and connectivity available today, both quantitative and qualitative research can often be completed in-house with assistance from online B2B panel providers.
What is a B2B Panel Provider?
A B2B panel provider is a company that pre-recruits people willing to provide insights for various research projects. Panel members can be categorized by job title, expertise, demographics, geographical location, or a host of other specifics. When a customer contacts a panel provider and specifies the representative group they want, the provider then pulls from its database to deliver the correct panel. Panel members can be tapped for both qualitative and quantitative research projects.
Types of B2B Panel Providers
Many companies provide different B2B panels for their customers. These providers can be divided into three main categories:
Specialty Panel Providers: Specialty panel providers can provide customized B2B panels down to extremely narrow parameters, so you get exactly the representative sample you are seeking.
For example, if you want to survey individuals responsible for purchasing office supplies at companies under $200,000 in annual revenue on the east coast, you can obtain that panel quickly and easily.
Specialty Panels will focus on industry verticals like:
Panel Resellers: Like most reseller companies, panel resellers depend on the work of other panel providers. They act as an aggregator for many other panel providers, providing a one-stop-shop solution for customers with a wide variety of needs.
Full-Service Panel Providers: These panel providers, often global panel providers, offer access to a large database of millions of people who have agreed to participate in panels and provided various profile attributes for consumer profiling, B2B profiling, and healthcare profiling be sorted for customers. Like some Panel Resellers and Specialty Panel Providers – most Full-Service Panel Providers offer Programming and Hosting Services for Online Surveys and Data Tabulation and Data Reporting Services.
How to Select a B2B Panel Company
Utilizing an online panel provider will increase your success in reaching the right business audiences using 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 their panels are recruited and managed.
A reputable market research company will offer their response to ESOMAR 28, the research industry’s most thorough questions about their panel operations and practices. When you’re screening B2B panel providers, you’ll want to make sure they have a few key processes in place to help ensure that you’re getting the online panel quality you’re paying for.
Here are some tips for you as you begin your B2B panel selection:
Specialization in B2B: Some panel providers focus on business-to-consumer panels, which are very different than B2B panels. Make sure you select one that has the expertise and proven experience with the B2B marketplace. Compared to consumer markets, B2B markets can be much more complex to target, and the need for on-boarding participants is much more intensive.
Categories of B2B markets are different than B2C markets and tend to be:
- Industry and Role Focused
- Product or Service Focused
- Market Focused
B2B market research recruiting by panel providers needs to consider the following areas which should be of interest to all B2B market research clients:
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. Please 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 wide 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.
Market research techniques for B2B are a vital component of a successful business plan and provide invaluable information to new and seasoned companies alike. Understanding what B2B market research can do for you and what resources are required will help you plan a future research project now.
Incorporate these processes into your next new product or service plan and set aside time and budget to conduct a comprehensive study. With the right plan and B2B panel provider partner, you will obtain valuable information to move your organization forward successfully.
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Jim Whaley is a business leader, market research expert, and writer. He posts frequently on The Standard Ovation and other industry blogs.
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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