But what makes a sample good? What steps are necessary to obtain a good sample? What kinds of samples are useful for B2B market research? Even if you hire a B2B sample provider to help you do your research, understanding some basics about probability and statistics allows you to better understand what you can and can’t achieve in B2B market research.
What is a B2B sample?
In statistics, a sample is a selection from a larger population. Political pollsters, market researchers, economists, and scientists often depend on samples in their work. Samples are often necessary because the size of a given population may be too large to make analyzing it in whole feasible.
For samples to be statistically useful, they must be representative of the population you’re trying to learn about. In an example of a B2B sample, say the population you want to know about are senior IT executives. It isn’t going to do you any good to include undergraduate computer science majors in your sample. Though they might have some knowledge tangentially related to the subject matter, they aren’t the audience you need.
How can you know a sample is statistically significant?
How can researchers be sure a sample accurately represents a population? In probability theory, the law of large numbers essentially states that, as sample size grows, its mean gets closer to the average of the entire population the sample represents.
In an abstract example, let’s generate five numbers between 1-100 at random to get 80, 81, 41, 70, and 89. Their mean is 72.5. This isn’t tremendously close to the mean of the first 100 natural numbers of 50.5. However, if we add five more random numbers to our sample — 17, 86, 24, 96, 61 — our new mean is closer, at 64.5. Keep in mind that our sample is only 10% of the whole population. The larger your sample size, the closer you get to the mean of the population.
This same rule applies for data more nuanced than basic arithmetic. Say, in a B2B context, you want to know how your competitors’ customers rank their experience on a scale of 1-10. It might be unfeasible to survey every single one of the customers, but a reasonably sized sample can offer a good approximation of the whole population’s sentiment.
B2B samples are different from B2C samples
Finding business-to-business (B2B) samples poses unique challenges. In business-to-consumer (B2C) market research, samples are often fairly accessible. If, for instance, Walmart wanted to get insight into their customers feelings, they wouldn’t have to dig particularly deep to get to the demographic of “Walmart shoppers.”
B2B samples, however, can be harder to obtain. Often, companies conduct B2B research because they need insights into their industry that can only come from experienced subject matter experts. Verifying that a given person has the qualifications to contribute to a B2B survey can be difficult — and without such verification, you can’t guarantee the accuracy of your data. Moreover, finding enough people who have the hyper-specific qualifications you need is a further challenge unto itself.
Important factors to consider in a B2B sample provider
Because finding B2B samples poses many unique challenges, it’s important to choose a qualified sample provider.
How do they source their samples?
Many market research companies source their samples from panels of people who’ve agreed to participate in market research beforehand. These panels, however, are designed with B2C research in mind. It’s unlikely that a company that depends on these panels will be able to pull a useful B2B sample at scale.
NewtonX uses AI-backed custom recruiting, which doesn’t depend on panels. With our method, we take your business question and translate it into an advanced query composed of over 40 distinct search fields. We’re able to account for geography, product knowledge, seniority level, and more. This lets us source unique B2B samples curated for business questions on a case-by-case basis.
What is the cost per respondent?
Finding high quality respondents for your sample is only one step toward using your sample well. You have to convince those respondents to participate in your research. Some market research firms attempt to create an incentive by offering a small sum of money — $10, $20 — in exchange for responding to a survey. However, the professionals who make up a B2B sample have too little time and make too much money for such a meager compensation to be convincing.
It’s best to compensate respondents at a rate influenced by the seniority of the respondent and based on industry benchmarks. This might mean spending more money, but it also means wasting less because you won’t have to throw out half of your data because it didn’t come from a qualified source.
Can the B2B sample provider verify respondents?
Unfortunately, fraud is common in B2B market research: oftentimes it’s too easy for an unqualified respondent to slip into a sample. If you’re investing money in B2B research, you don’t want to have to throw out data because some of your respondents weren’t up to snuff; unfortunately, without a thorough vetting process, it’s almost inevitable.
Thankfully, NewtonX offers a solution: all of the professionals we survey go through our rigorous, 2-step verification process. As a result, we’re the only B2B market research company that offers 100% fraud free samples and data.