Qualifying And Terminating In B-to-B Market Research

both efficiently and respectfully

As more and more companies look to do their market research internally, we have found ourselves reviewing surveys for our customers to help them get started on their B-to-B market research journey.  Our experience has led us to share some of our findings to help our customers find their path in obtaining excellent feedback and insight, and ensure the data they receive back is gathered both efficiently and respectfully.  One key element to successful B-to-B market research lies in the qualification and termination of participants, and the art of doing it quickly and with respect for both the participants time and the Project Manager’s time.  We have a few, short pieces of advice on how to qualify and terminate people in B-to-B surveys.

  • Wait until all qualification questions are asked before terminating.

    Terminating a person after one single question can leave the respondent feeling as though they chose “wrong”.  This type of termination is highly correlated with return attempts, with the participant gaming answers the second time around, shielding their identity, and attempting to covertly re-enter a survey.
  • Limit it to three or four qualifying questions.

    Too many qualifying questions can not only overly tax a person’s time, they can lead to undo expectation on behalf of the participant that they have already qualified and indeed are onto the actual survey.
  • Qualify in less than minute.

    It’s not just the number of questions asked during qualification that are important, it is also the length and complexity of the questions.  Overly worded, especially complex, and “loaded” question sets during qualification can lead to participant frustration, abandonment, and even anger.
  • Thank them for their time.

    Thanking people for their time is especially important before, during, and especially after an individual has been terminated.  This person just gave you one minute of their time only to find out they are not wanted. As hard as it may be to believe, people can often feel sadness, anger, and a level of FOMO even.  B-to-B research often comes with highly targeted questions relevant to a person’s career; for a person to then be told they are not welcome into a survey can be interpreted as rejection of their expertise.  Taking the time to thank them can go a long way to allaying that anger.
  • Do not use verbiage that assumes relevancy to the respondent.

    It is one thing to thank a participant for their time and terminate them, but it is especially dangerous to assume that a survey “is not relevant”.  B-to-B research dives into people’s careers, so even if they may not be the purchaser or specifier of a specific type of industry-specific product, assuming the survey is not “relevant” to them can feel as if they are being repudiated or rejected by their very own peers.
  • Put them into a drawing even though they don’t get the incentive.

A simple act of generosity, even for those that don’t take the entire survey, can go a long way.  Putting all invitees into a drawing can at least reward one, two, or maybe three people who were terminated with their efforts to help you out with your survey.

When programing your survey, look for ways to terminate ethically and respectfully.  People want to give thoughtful and honest feedback, but if you turn it into a long drawn out, complicated mess, and send them off with a “stop by our storefront” redirect as they leave, you will have trouble bringing people back in the future.  Research, like any relationship, ultimately is based on trust and mutual respect.