What Market Researchers Can Learn From Sales Professionals

Kathryn Korostoff

When planning a sales effort, there are a lot of different ways to contact the other party to request a meeting.  You could call them, send a text, send an email, or contact them on Skype.  You can even, in some cases, decide to do an in-person visit.

But what do you think a great sales person does?

I can tell you what they don’t do. They don’t rely solely on email blasts and hope for the best. They aren’t afraid to pick up the phone, go on sales trips or use web conferencing.  Is email easiest? Sure! But that’s why great sales people are great—they don’t just do what’s easiest.

Market researchers can take a lesson from these salespeople; instead of defaulting to one mode of research (online surveys) we need to have the discipline to step back and consider all of our options.

Market researchers who always default to the easiest mode are not necessarily getting the best research.  So think about this, when you hear market research, do you assume it means survey? And when you think “survey”, do you assume online?

If you’re in a situation where you’re hiring a market researcher, either a consultant or a full-service firm, does your preferred supplier default to online surveys every time you come to them with a research need?  Frankly, for me that would be a big red flag.

Just like the sales person has many modes of communication to pick from these days, the researcher also has plenty of options.  Online surveys are great—but perhaps too easy. It becomes our default choice, a kind of data collection addiction.  Yet we all know it is simply not the best methodology choice to reach all audiences for all objectives.  Today, market researchers can choose from plenty of options:

  • Ethnographies
  • Eye tracking
  • Facial analysis
  • Focus groups
  • Idea voting sites
  • IDIs
  • Online focus groups
  • Paper surveys (yes, really)
  • Phone surveys (live or automated)
  • Prediction markets
  • Webcam research

Sure, I find online surveys a great temptation. But I’m not addicted.

Kathryn Korostoff is the founder and lead instructor at Research Rockstar LLC, a market research training company. She can be reached at [email protected].


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