Compared to Business-to-Consumer (B2C) market research, Business-to-Business (B2B) research is a different world. B2B participants are often challenging to reach, extremely busy, and not motivated by modest cash incentives. Plus, they typically have a deep knowledge of their particular industry. For a multitude of reasons, B2B research warrants different strategies than B2C. Below, we have outlined our top tips for crafting surveys for business professionals. If followed, they are sure to increase your survey engagement and lead to improved, actionable insights!

  • Do Your Pre-Research Research: No, you didn’t misread! Before you launch your research study, first research the potential participants. Your goal should be to understand the various players in the B2B sales process (as there are often many). Try to learn their respective roles and drivers – whether it’s price, performance, customer service, or fear of competition. Once armed with this information, you can then tailor your research questions to each type of participant.
  • Keep Studies Short and Direct: When working with business professionals (especially C-suite executives), assume that they have little time to spend on your study. They may be squeezing it in between important meetings and business calls. With that in mind, try to keep your surveys concise (ideally under 10 minutes). Use clear, direct language and strategic ordering. Also, avoid questions that seem even remotely duplicative. Aside from extending the length of the survey, they may be frustrating for busy execs – potentially leading to more dropouts.
  • Embrace Industry Concepts and Terms: B2B study participants are not your average Joe. They understand their industry and its intricacies. So while we typically advise researchers to avoid jargon, now is the time to reconsider. If using industry jargon will help you better articulate a concept or obtain the insights you are seeking, dive right in! 
  • Beware of Sensitive Questions: You may have a burning question about a particular topic. But if it requires the B2B participant to divulge confidential company information, jeopardizing their company’s competitiveness or bottom line, it is best to steer clear. Do not make the participant choose between completing your survey and protecting their company.
  • Get Creative with Incentives: Many B2B participants pull in six or seven figures a year ($100,000+). So that $10 incentive… just won’t cut it. Instead, experts suggest that you motivate B2B participants with an indirect incentive, such as a donation to a favorite charity. Or try to “appeal to executives’ passions, sense of curiosity, or desire for mental stimulation” by asking thought-provoking discussions about their company or field. For more ideas, check out our blog on B2B incentives.
  • Beta Test Your Studies: Before proceeding with a full-fledged study, mitigate your risk by testing it out with a handful of business professionals. Monitor how many actually complete the study and the time it takes. Also, if possible, connect with the participants after the study to ask if they encountered any issues (with the wording, framing, length, technology, etc.) and whether they would recommend any improvements. This small investment could save you significant hassle down the line. 



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