5 tips to pick the right kind of survey in B2B

Collaboration – 30 September 2014


You are preparing to conduct a survey on a market that interests you. First, ask yourself: in which way will people respond to my questionnaire? Here are some solutions to help you choose between a telephone, web, or in person survey.

1- First things first, qualitative or quantitative?

Before deciding on the delivery method of your questionnaire, you must ask yourself: is this a qualitative or quantitative study? Indeed, the method of administering the questionnaire is not an end in of itself.

2- In person survey: ideal for quality , but…

First, keep in mind that if you want a qualitative study, interviewing face-to-face is most likely what you need. You will have the advantage of seeing imperceptible subtleties such as the tone of voice, facial expressions, hesitation, etc.

However, achieving this type of study without experts in qualitative research is not recommendend. Indeed, your presence automatically introduces a bias. For instance, customers would feel embarrassed to tell you the truth, there would be a lack of confidentiality, etc.

3- The web survey: the analysts favorite

A web survey is my favorite. It is widely used nowadays, and rightly so. The web is full of web survey solutions which are inexpensive and easy to use.

Its advantages are many: saving time and money, automatic compilation of responses, it’s easy to answer, it decreases the risks of errors and bias, you can add visual content, videos, sounds, etc. Finally, analysts particularly like this method of administration, as they have complete control over the message and what is viewed by the respondent.

The solution is certainly not perfect: In B2B, it may initially be much more difficult to reach respondents by this method of administration; so reaching respondents by telephone is still the way to go.

4- The good old telephone survey: an effective way to reach businesses

As mentioned previously, telephone surveys are still widely used in B2B (unlike B2C, where researchers had the annoying habit of calling while a hot meal was being served). Another advantage of this method is that it allows you to have higher quality in the response; if you thought about making a quantitative questionnaire administered by telephone, leave space for respondents’ comments. Obviously, a qualitative telephone survey can be very effective.

The flip side is that the tone of voice you (or the company you use to make the calls) will use on the phone line can easily induce a bias in the responses. It can be easy to fall into the trap of suggesting answers to respondents. Errors in understanding can also happen: the investigator could misunderstand the respondents’ answer or, the respondent may misunderstand the question. Finally, the response rate may delay the delivery of the report and recommendations. We estimate that an average of 10 calls is needed in order to successfully complete one questionnaire.

5- Other methods of administration

I was told during my studies, that science needs the technology to move forward. Today, with new tools (… well, not so new in fact!) like Skype, Google Hangout (focus groups), social media, etc., you can easily imagine other ways of administration, which will all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

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