How to conduct B2B market research: a step-by-step guide

| October 22, 2021

B2B market research can help companies better understand their customers, their competitors, their brand perception, and much more.

However, knowing how to conduct B2B market research in the best way isn’t always easy. And B2B research is too costly an endeavor to risk trial-and-error. Here are 5 important steps toward successful B2B research.

 

1: Know what you want to accomplish with your B2B market research

Do you want to know what your customers think of your products — what features they like and dislike, how they’re using your products, etc.? Or do you want to gain some competitive intelligence to better understand why the biggest player in your industry succeeds in areas you don’t? 

Both of these are questions B2B market research could answer; however, you’d need to direct them at different audiences to get the best answers. As a result, it’s crucial to know what questions you need answered at the outset when conducting B2B market research. The professionals you have to survey for B2B market research are busy; you don’t want to waste their time (and yours) by asking the wrong people the wrong questions.

 

2: Decide what research methodology works best to answer your questions

B2B market researchers can do research in a variety of ways. Different methods can include surveys, long-form interviews, curated communities, etc. All methods can be useful, but they’re useful for different things, and it’s important to know which method will yield the best answers to your questions.

Broadly speaking, different research methods can be better for quantitative or qualitative research. Quantitative research is focused on collecting large amounts of measurable data; you can do quantitative research with large scale surveys aimed at answering questions with yes-or-no or otherwise strictly limited answers. In qualitative research, you go deeper: qualitative research can uncover more nuance at a smaller scale. Common methods for qualitative research include one-on-one interviews and focus groups.

 

3: Base the questions you ask around the B2B market research methodology you’re using

While what you want to ask dictates the B2B market research methodology you use, the methodology dictates how you ask your questions. Say you want to use a quantitative survey to conduct competitive benchmarking. On such a survey, you’d want to ask multiple choice, yes/no, ranked choice, or other types of questions with limited possible answers. Example questions include:

  • What brands/companies are you familiar with from the following list?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your experience with this company?

On a qualitative study aimed at assessing the more individual experiences of your customers these questions might be more appropriate:

  • Would you recommend this product to a friend? Why or why not?
  • What do you like best about this product?
  • What do you like least about this product? 

 

4: Cast a wide enough net, but maintain specificity

The best samples in B2B market research are large enough to be statistically significant and constituted of the most relevant, qualified contributors possible. These two qualities might seem somewhat at odds: often, B2B audiences are difficult to reach. Finding them at a large scale might seem unfeasible, leading some to settle for a small or poor quality sample.

However, it isn’t impossible to have both very specific population specifications and a sample large enough to meet your needs, if you pick the right B2B market research partner to work with. At NewtonX, our AI-backed custom recruiting methodology lets us find hard-to-reach populations at a large scale. We want to be as specific as possible to help our customers find the most relevant, 100% verified professionals to answer their questions. Important specifications to consider include:

  • Target description
  • N of respondents
  • Market/geography
  • LOI (length of interview/survey)

 

5: Analyze your data correctly

Gathering data is only half the challenge of good B2B market research. Analyzing the data is just as essential if you want to action it in the best way possible. However, good statistical analysis requires skills and expertise, as well as an unbiased eye. You don’t want your own positive opinions of your company to make you disregard critical voices as outliers when they really aren’t, for example.

 

The importance of analyzing your data correctly is one of the main reasons hiring a firm that specializes in B2B market research to help you is often a good idea. Market research firms aren’t incentivized to give their customers good news. Rather, they are incentivized to provide the most accurate data they can that lets their clients make the best decisions possible. A market research company can act as an unbiased third-party; furthermore, because they specialize in research, they’ll have access to the best tools and minds for conducting your research and analyzing the data it produces.

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