Why it’s important to work with a B2B research specialist

There are fundamental differences between B2C and B2B markets – after all, the process that a consumer uses to buy a can of Pepsi is typically different from the process that a business uses to buy a server.

We think that there are at least 6 features which make B2B markets unique, which have important implications when conducting B2B market research:

  1. There are fewer buyers in B2B markets. That means that fewer interviews are practical or necessary. For example, a minimum of 50 quantitative interviews are needed to provide a base level of reliability in B2B research, but in consumer research this would be far too few interviews
  2. Multiple individuals are usually involved in B2B purchase decisions. This means that any research should map the decision-making ‘unit’ looks like, then explore each individual’s views in isolation
  3. B2B decision-makers are often senior, busy and hard-to-reach. They are also flooded with requests for their time from colleagues, clients, vendors, and researchers. This means that certain research techniques aren’t always appropriate – face-to-face interviews take up meeting room space and consume time beyond the interview itself. In addition, they also need to be carefully persuaded to support any research exercise using the right combination of incentives
  4. B2B buyers often have an Account or Client Manager that they regularly interact with and trust. The support of this individual is invaluable in encouraging B2B decision-makers to participate in the research. So B2B research often requires the research agency to engage with a lot more internal stakeholders
  5. B2B markets tend to be complex – sometimes it is because the product is complicated, sometimes it is because of how the product is sold or marketed. This means that the research team needs to have a deep understanding of the product area and industry. This allows them to ask the right questions and interpret the results in a meaningful way
  6. B2B organizations tend to obey the 80:20 rule, i.e. a small number of ‘VIP’ customers represent a significantly large share of revenue. B2B research should reflect this. For example, if your Key Accounts represent 15% of your client base andt 60% of your revenue, perhaps this group of clients should represent 60% of interviews on a project

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