Many marketer’s overlook the opportunity to use market research as a tool to not only validate sales and marketing assumptions, but simultaneously as a tool to grow market share. Traditional research methodologies are geared to understanding buying behaviors, new product development opportunities and the like. But by combining traditional research approaches with a strong lead generation focus, organizations can acquire both intelligence and new customers. This post is intended to provide an overview as to using lead generation techniques within an overall research campaign.
Let's face it: No business can sell goods and services that customers don't want and still make money. That's why market research comes in handy. Discovering what customers want, when they want it, and how they want it packaged or delivered is essential to launching and/or running a business these days. That's why market research becomes an essential tool. Here is an overview of the essential components of using competitive research to grow your business.
Understanding your market is your first step to developing a good sales plan. To understand your market you will need to carry out market research as an effective sales plan relies heavily on market research.
The goal of your research should be to identify:
- Your total addressable market (TAM)
- Your target market segments within your TAM
- The types of decision makers in that market
- The numbers in each market segment
- Segment classifications according to previous sales volume or potential sales volume.
Based on your market research, explain:
- Who your prospects are currently buying from and why
- What are the potential switching drivers – i.e. cost, delivery, etc?
- Why there is a demand for what you're selling
- Your current market position - including any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats
- Your competitors' strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.
Your sales plan might also include market research about emerging or forecasted trends in your chosen market.
How to Construct Your Research Instrument to Acquire Data and YES-Customers
Now that you have a firm handle on your goals as stated above, it is time to develop the key tool – your research questionnaire.
Self-administered quantitative questionnaires follow a very specific flow. In most cases, they flow from the general to the specific. However, because studies can vary, there are no hard-and-fast rules for the flow or sequence of questions. Nevertheless, I would suggest the following guidelines:
The Flow of the Study
- Explain to the interviewee who the sponsor of the study is. Most often, you'll have to identify the sponsor at the beginning, but when that's not necessary keep respondents in the dark. Once they know, their every answer will be with that knowledge in mind and will present an informed bias.
- Save sensitive questions for the end.Again, this might not always be possible, but when it doesn't matter be aware that sensitive questions can alienate respondents and turn them off to the entire interview process.
- Remain on one topic at a time.Complete all your questions about one topic before moving on to the next. For example, don't ask about a favorite suppliers, then about brands used and then go back to questioning on favorite suppliers.
- Ask the easy questions first.Simple questions regarding behavior, such as frequency of buying, brands purchased, or places shopped, are easy for respondents to answer because these don't require a lot of thinking or pondering. As a result, respondents quickly get comfortable with the interview.
- Save the tough questions for the middle of the questionnaire. Once the easy questions are out of the way, be prepared to transition to questions that require thought and consideration. Respondents don't mind giving more thought to complex questions once they are comfortable with the interview process.
Understanding how to phrase questions
Developing research studies is not for the novice. It takes very little thought to write out a bunch of questions on a piece of paper and call it a questionnaire. It takes considerable thought to write questions that are good ones and produce meaningful results. Consider the questions below as examples of good and bad questioning techniques:
- Biased question:What do you like about your primary supplier?
An assumption here is that the respondent liked something, and so the question tends to push for a positive response.
- Unbiased question:What, if anything, do you like about your primary supplier?
By your simply using "if anything" as part of the question, the respondent is not put on the spot to find something to like.
- Dual-thought question:What, if anything, do you like or dislike about your primary supplier?
Respondents tend to focus first on the strongest likes or dislikes. If it happens to be something they like, they will give less thought to what they might not like, and vice versa. It would be much better to ask two questions, one focusing only on likes and the other only on dislikes.
Phrasing Questions to Help Acquire Customers
Now to the meat of this post. The following are some key techniques you can use (and we have had great success with them), to develop and drive more leads for the sales team to close.
Qualifying question: Based on your points of dissatisfaction from your primary supplier, if a new supplier could change that, would you be willing to switch or add them as a supplier?
In most cases, the respondent will feel compelled to answer yes to avoid to appear untruthful of their prior answer and this opens the door to close on a lead.
Or-equal question: If everything were equal, would you consider an additional supplier if they could exceed your satisfaction levels?
Although many client-vendor relationships become tough to separate, many times it is human nature to respond yes to gain better results.
Assumptive question: If a supplier could provide better X or Y, which one would you prefer?
Asking assumptive questions identifies for the interviewer a point of differentiation to focus on when converting the interviewee into a sales lead.
Over the years, we have experienced tremendous success in ending each interview with lead closing questions based on the responses we gain from the above questions. Typically, our responses would include:
From what you have shared with me, I think it would be beneficial for you to meet with our client’s sales team to present how we can help improve your satisfaction levels.
Based on your desire to improve X or Y, I think it might make sense for you to meet with one of our sales representatives who can help you understand X or Y.
Using competitive research techniques is a powerful means of not only acquiring data, but customers as well. Check back with us as we spin up more lead generation educational posts.
To speak to a Market One Client Success Advisor and learn how this can work for you, give us a call at 216-360-8145 or leave us a comment. Click Here if you'd rather have us contact you,