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Becoming a research partner: Clients can't completely replace you


Your clients can’t completely replace you if you play it smart. Insight firms can rest assured that even when clients are moving their research in-house. They usually don’t have an unlimited budget to hire all the insight professionals they need and deal with internal politics too as we’ll explain in this blog. It’s the third in a series of 5 about new opportunities for insight firms.

Opportunity 3: Clients lack the resources to completely replace insight firms

Why are clients lacking the resources?

Many clients lack the internal resources to replace outside market research firms completely. They may have market research departments, but they often lack the people, expertise, or budget to conduct all the research needed themselves. As a result, they rely on insight firms to supplement their internal capabilities.

As we mentioned earlier, the department may not have all the budget or support it needs. If you’ve ever worked in a corporate, you know budget allocation is a continuous battle between departments to meet their needs and targets. But even in SMEs, this can get heated quickly. And that’s understandable. There’s only a limited budget, each company has its priorities and some departments get a bigger piece of the pie than others.

The thing is, research isn’t always one of them. The sad fact of daily life in many companies is a relatively short-term view. Usually, that’s about keeping the shareholders or other owners happy by showing up with good monthly or quarterly results. So even if the research would lead to good results in 5 years, it would be hard to convince budget holders not to spend it on a few extra salespeople to meet the quarterly quota.

How can we use this opportunity to our benefit?

You can offer a service that will help guide these plans along. Together with the internal team, you can draw up prognoses to show how valuable investing in market research toolkit is and what the rest of the business can reasonably expect in a specific timeframe if certain prerequisites are met.

If you’re smart, you focus on a specific industry, more about that in the next opportunity. So if you have visibility into similar companies, you can analyze their data and come up with reasonable estimates without having to guess your way through it.

Let’s get practical

We’ll take a hypothetical example called CLEAN-E to make this more relatable. It’s a VC-funded startup with ambitious goals, money to burn and results to be had yesterday.

So, you offered the training & consultancy package to the manager of this new team. He said yes, got the budget approved and now you’re training the new team and implementing everything.

However, during the latest board meeting more sales were demanded. The VP of sales wants to have more budget to hire new salespeople and meet the quota. They are thinking of taking that budget from the new research team. The co-founders disagree. One sides with the sales VP and the other with the research VP.

To break the impasse, you offer the research VP to collaborate on a prognosis about the effectiveness of meeting the goals. You research a scenario where hiring extra salespeople is taken into account and one where doing research and finding a more profitable ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) that you can target with the current teams is taken into account.

This helps you safeguard the contracts and cement an even better relationship with the research team and all those that support their efforts. So it’s a win-win for everybody involved.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Let’s take a few steps back and explore why this is important.

It’s no secret that the market is changing – it always is – but the rate at which new trends and technologies are replacing old ones doesn’t only seem to become faster. It actually is getting faster. And it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Take the tools in the research space, for example. Insight firms can choose between an ever-expanding set of too many tools and platforms to mention in various forms and guises. Whether you’re looking for tools to help you do qualitative or quantitative research, there’s always one seemingly better suited for your particular needs.

The trouble is which one do you choose? Because they all have their pros and cons and some come with caveats that aren’t immediately clear when you purchase them.

Digging through the feature lists, comparing and validating them via reviews has become an industry in itself over the years, with the likes of G2, Capterra and Gartner dominating the space. But even then, it still is hard to pick one. And once you think you’ve found the one, up pops another where the proverbial grass is even greener.

And it’s not just about keeping up with the tools. Insight professionals themselves have to keep up with new research tactics and methods. Not to mention coping with the sheer volume of data to be processed.

Because there’s more data around than ever before and with every passing nanosecond, we’re adding even more. And the kicker is, according to Statista a whopping 37% of the world’s population isn’t even online yet as of April 2022. So there’s still a lot more data to come.

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