B2B market research begins with making sure that you really understand as much as you can about your B2B market and the companies in that market. Start by making sure that you are aware of the regulations and customs surrounding the market, as well as the trends going on in that market. This is particularly important when entering new markets. Fortunately, there are websites and blogs written about most B2B markets, describing the regulations and customs relating to that market, as well as the trends going on in the market.
Then, make sure that you list the customers in your market, as well as your possible competitors. But, don’t stop with just ascertaining the names of the companies in your market. Also identify the names of the executives at those companies. This, again, is particularly important when entering new markets. Fortunately, those same B2B websites and blogs typically describe most of the customers and competitors in the market, along with the executives at those companies.
Learn about your business customers
B2B market research depends on learning about your business customers. Start by collecting information from your CRM system, and from your sales team, about your customers. Then go back to the websites and blogs you have already identified to get yet more information from websites and blogs about these customers. Make sure that you know as much as you can about the key executives at those customers, and the issues that they are likely to face, so that you can move to the next step, which is calling them by phone.
Telephone your business customers
B2B market research really benefits from calling your business customers by phone. If you ask the right questions you will be pleasantly surprised at just how much information you can pick up from a few short telephone calls with your key potential customers. Yet again, this is particularly important when entering new markets.
Visit your business customers
B2B market research really does depend on visiting your business customers. Go to your customers’ factories, offices, or design studios, and spend time talking with their engineers, plant managers, designers, manufacturing personnel, and other staff. All the focus groups and surveys in the world are no substitute for visiting your B2B customers in their places of work. Similarly, while chatting with customers at trade shows is nice, it is not a substitute for actually visiting them. Once again, this is particularly important when you are entering new markets.
Even now, it never ceases to amaze me just how much valuable information you can learn from actually visiting customers and going to their factories, offices, or design studios, and spending time talking with their engineers, plant managers, designers, manufacturing personnel, and other staff.
When you put these four steps into effect…
Although customers vary significantly across markets, I have found that two things never change. That is, if you put these four steps into effect, then:
- you are more likely to understand the true needs of your business customers, and
- your business customers are much more likely to want to develop a business relationship with you