How to Perform B2B Market Research
Market research is market research, right? Not quite. For starters, the B2B buying process is more complex than purchasing decisions made by consumers. In B2B sales, there are often multiple stakeholders that you will need to convince and convert in order to close the deal. The B2B space is also significantly smaller than B2C—great for building personal contacts and relationships, but harder to get a baseline of what the group as a whole is thinking and feeling.
B2B Market Research Methods
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will help you get off on the right foot and make sure you keep the right questions and considerations in mind as you start to gather information about your target B2B audience.
Consult B2B market research studies
B2B buyers can have vastly different pains, concerns and objectives depending on their job title and the industry they’re in, so you will need to look for detailed, in-depth analysis specific to the types of buyers you are trying to reach. It’s also a good idea to consult a few wider-ranging B2B market research studies to learn about the general preferences, needs and buying behaviors in the B2B space. These types of studies are especially helpful if you are just starting to develop a sales or marketing strategy. Here are some market research studies that can help you get started:
- 2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report – Content Marketing Institute’s 7th annual B2B Buyer’s Survey polled 283 B2B C-level executives, VPs and Directors to learn about the factors impacting purchase decisions. Topics covered include the performance, consumption and challenges of digitized B2B content.
- The State of Sales Acceleration: Trends & Perspectives from B2B Buyers & Sellers – Dun & Bradstreet, a leader in commercial data and insights, helps B2B marketers and salespeople attract and close more business. Topics include the best time to call prospects, factors that influence the purchase decision and how buyers determine if a product/service meets their needs.
- Rethink the B2B Buyer’s Journey – LinkedIn Business Solutions conducted a global study that involved surveying more than 6,000 B2B buyers, marketers and salespeople to examine how the buyer’s journey has changed, and how sales and marketing teams must rethink their relationships with B2B buyers, influencers and decision-makers.
- The Millennials Are Here: How Generational Differences Impact B2B Buying Committees Today – According to this report by Heinz Marketing and SnapApp, millennials are already taking their seats among older decision-makers at the B2B buying table. This report looks at the differences between the rising millennial B2B buyer and how marketing and sales strategies can target these important decision-makers and influencers.
- The Changing Face of B2B Marketing – It’s no secret that the B2B audience is online, but where do they go and what do they do? Google surveyed approximately 3,000 B2B researchers and decision-makers about their research and purchasing habits to find out.
Analyze your direct competitors
One way to drill-down into your specific target audience is to look at what your competitors are doing. Not to say your competitors are always 100 percent right, but there is a lot you can learn by analyzing your competitors’ B2B marketing efforts (especially if you’re starting from scratch and have little information on your audience). Some questions to keep in mind:
- What are your competitors’ value propositions? You can try to learn about your prospect’s needs by analyzing your competitor’s main value propositions. Do they focus on ease of implementation? Return on investment? Low entry cost? These kinds of value propositions can tell you something about the critical business issues your prospects face, and what they are looking for in a solution and a provider.
- How do your competitors communicate? An important part of B2B market research is figuring out where your audience goes for information, how to get their attention and how to start a conversation. You can start to piece this together by looking at the channels your competitors are using for communications. Are they on social media? Do they have a monthly newsletter? Are they meeting prospects in the “real world” at tradeshows and conventions? Are they using print, television or radio? You don’t necessarily have to follow a competitor’s lead, but at least this will give you a full picture of where you might think to focus your communication efforts.
- Who are your competitors talking to? If you don’t have personas or audience segmentations outside of “high-level decision makers” in your B2B space, try taking a look at your competitor’s digital communications to see if there are any specific job titles or roles you should be targeting. One way to glean this information is by examining forms on your competitor’s websites, such as contact forms, newsletter signups and registration pages. These forms will sometimes allow users to select their job title from a drop-down list within the form, which tells you who your competitors are talking to, who they want to be talking to and who you should be talking to!
Collect sales intelligence through B2B telemarketing
B2B telemarketing is another great way to learn about your targets—and the best part is you can outsource these activities, allowing you and your teams to focus on other activities. Why is telemarketing effective for B2B market research and intelligence gathering? Here are a few reasons:
- Targeted insights – B2B telemarketers can ask specific questions of your actual audience, something that’s difficult (or impossible) with other outreach efforts. These highly-targeted, one-on-one conversations can provide you with actional insights into what your prospects are thinking, feeling and looking for in a solution and a provider.
- Real-time feedback – Are you conveying the right value propositions? How effective is your messaging? Is your brand/solution recognizable? These are the sorts of questions you’ll be able to answer with a sales intelligence telemarketing campaign. That’s because calling agents are able to learn first-hand how your messaging and value propositions perform with B2B buyers. Over time, this creates a continuous improvement loop that helps you fine-tune your message so you say the right thing to the right people at the right time.
- Competitor analysis – B2B telemarketing can also provide valuable insights about the competing products or services your target audience is using. You’ll learn why they chose one company’s solution over offerings from other competitors, as well as any concerns about their current vendor. This information can be extremely helpful in crafting a message that conveys the right value proposition to the right audience at the correct time.
Intelemark Uncovers Critical Data About B2B Audiences
Want to learn more about your targets and gain an edge over your competitors? Intelemark’s sales intelligence campaigns uncover critical data that help B2B sales and marketing teams understand their prospects better than most other market research strategies. Contact Intelemark today to find out what we can help you learn about your audience.