Better B2B Customer Recruiting for Market Research
How important is B2B customer recruiting?
Well, when getting started with New Product Blueprinting, a common question is, “How long does a Blueprinting project take?” The answer is a very unsatisfying “It depends.” Yes… “it depends.” The biggest schedule item that “it depends” upon is the time to recruit customers. Truthfully, the rest of the Blueprinting process – from executing interviews to analyzing data – is not overly time-consuming. Therefore, if we become proficient in recruiting, we can execute projects quickly. And if we can execute quickly, we can accelerate our organic growth and innovation.
Though we speak of recruiting a “customer,” we sometimes instead use the market research term “respondent” since the word “customer” may actually be confusing. This, of course, is because we may interview a broader audience than just our own customers. Also, use of the word “respondent” reminds us that we are executing market research. Either term is fine and they can be used interchangeably.
Beginning the B2B Customer Recruiting Phase
As we get started, we have a fundamental question to answer, “Who should we interview?” To answer this question, we must ask ourselves an even more fundamental question, “Who are we innovating for?” This question can be phrased from various perspectives. Some examples:
- Whose life do we want to make better as a result of this project?
- Who has the problems that we wish to solve?
- Which person executes the job or task that we wish to improve?
- Who uses the product in our area of interest?
- What individuals of interest experience problems with our product?
- Who influences the purchase of the product?
Finally, once you’ve selected your B2B customer recruiting targets, it’s time to execute! Let’s look at nine best practices.
Nine Best Practices for B2B Customer Recruiting
1. Value relevance over sample size
For B2B customer recruiting, we can often get all the needs we need for Discovery Interviews with 8-12 respondents. However, this assumes that they have been chosen correctly! In 1936, The Literary Digest incorrectly predicted that Alfred Landon would defeat Franklin D. Roosevelt as president of the US. It made this error even with sample size of 2.4 million! Therefore, large numbers cannot overcome a poorly chosen sample.
2. Include respondents along the value chain
Especially during Discovery Interviews, consider adding a customer’s customer or a channel partner to the list of respondents. This ensures that a need is not missed beyond the knowledge of our immediate customer.
3. Resolve to recruit at least some respondents with internal resources
In B2B, we aren’t just executing research, but we growing (or perhaps re-establishing) ties with customers. Therefore, when we recruit respondents ourselves, we are doing more than just learning their issues, we are continuing to build customer relationships.
4. Use outside recruiting resources if you get stuck
There are companies who can assist with B2B customer recruiting. They will work with you to create a screener and will line up interviews for you. This option makes more sense in less concentrated markets. One example is Field Work (www.fieldwork.com). Also, when exploring unfamiliar markets, consider a service such as Supporting Innovation (www.supportinginnovation.com) that can conduct background research to speed up your progress.
5. Get the sales team on board for B2B customer recruiting
The sales team is often the link between the project team and the customers. When on board, they can accelerate the recruiting process for the team. Additionally, when sales people are involved with Blueprinting, customers will perceive them in a more positive light – as part of a company that is truly concerned about their needs. To get the sales team on board, walk them through the site www.blueprintingforsales.com. This will answer common questions and provide a process overview.
6. Use a script for recruiting calls
A script is not necessarily something that one needs to read verbatim. Rather, it’s an outline of major points to cover in a recruiting call. Additionally, a script can help the recruiter overcome the fear of “what should I say?” Use the “Script Points for Interview Setup” job aid to reference the key points. Blueprinting practitioners will find all these resources within the Blueprinting Center.
7. Email an agenda to the respondent
When you send an agenda, the respondent will know that this is a professional, organized effort. A nice professional touch to your B2B customer recruiting. Additionally, this will help them to anticipate what the interview itself will be like. Reference the “Discovery Interview Agenda Template” BlueTool™.
8. Send the respondent to Haveyoubeendiscovered.com
This site answers the most common questions that respondents will have. It is also a good reference for the recruiter since these questions may come up during the call.
9. Start with a big list and make the calls!
B2B customer recruiting is a numbers game. The more calls you make, the more appointments you will get. Don’t get too worried about who says “yes” and who says “no.” Set aside some time and make many, many calls. The results will follow.
Finally, a note about your mindset for B2B customer recruiting.
When executing a Blueprinting project, you are doing your best to help those in your target market. Therefore, don’t feel like you’re begging them. Customers will soon realize that you are genuinely trying to help them – and will appreciate it. It will change the way they view you personally – and how they perceive your company. Besides, people really do love to talk about their problems – and the New Product Blueprinting process can be a catalyst to more than just successful new products, but to deeper customer relationships.