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Crash Someone Else’s Party

The Secrets to Engaging B2B Professionals in User Research

For the past several months, we’ve been gathering feedback from prospective clients about a new service under development.  In doing so, we’re facing some of the same struggles our B2B clients encounter when conducting research — the biggest of which is locating the right people to evaluate your ideas.

It’s no secret that accessing quality B2B participants is challenging.  Most of the time, using a research panel doesn’t work.  It’s one thing to find individuals who buy toothpaste.  It’s quite another to identify aerospace engineers.  But that doesn’t mean you must settle for low quality participants — or go without.  It requires creativity and resourcefulness to locate them.

Over the years, we’ve identified five different tactics for engaging B2B professionals:

  1. Key Opinion-Leader (KOL) Panel
  2. Employment Services/Recruiters/Placement Professionals
  3. Enrollment to a Telephone or Web-Based Interview
  4. Current Customers or Users
  5. Event-Based Interviewing

Each method has its own strengths and drawbacks, and we’ve used them all successfully in past studies.

One “secret” is to leverage someone else’s relationship or tap into where the target self-organizes or congregates. Rather than trying to independently identify professionals, go to where they’re already gathering, such as a professional group, a publication, or an industry conference.

A few weeks ago, we did just that.  We took our new service to a conference geared toward our target customer with the primary goal of getting feedback.  And it was a success! Our target was congregating in a single location and was primed to think about their work.  It wasn’t necessary to engage many people; the quality of the engagement was far more important.

So maybe we crashed someone else’s party, but we got what we needed quickly and cost-effectively.

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