How to find B2B professionals for marketing research projects 

When conducting a B2B marketing research project, you may need to find, contact and work with B2B professionals. How do you find industry experts to contact? Are there ways to find professionals for niche subject areas? How many B2B experts are needed to obtain reliable data? The following seven tips should be taken into consideration when looking for B2B research professionals:

  1. Narrow down who you want to work with.
  2. Keep participation restrictions in mind.
  3. Make use of your network.
  4. Use expert networks.
  5. Consider phone and e-mail outreach.
  6. Utilize online panels.
  7. Be available and hands-on throughout the process.

We will go into more details below and link to additional articles that may be helpful if you are looking for B2B professionals for your marketing research project. 

1. Narrow down who you want to work with

Having a firm grasp on your project will help you begin to narrow down who you will reach out to when contacting B2B professionals. If the research project is specific, a few niche B2B researchers may help you gain information on your subject area. If the research is broad, having a variety of B2B expert participants may work best. 

In the article “Best practices for surveying hard-to-reach B2B audiences,” author Christina Boris says that you should create a detailed profile of the respondents you need in your research. To help narrow down who you plan to work with, go further than the standard demographics. This will allow you to outline the specific B2B expert you need for your project and help you in the future by knowing which candidates meet your set criteria. 

Sascha Eder, author of “Seven tips for B2B voice of the customer research,” says that recruiting for specific individuals, in this case a B2B professional, is not as simple as it is for a basic online survey. Narrowing down who you aim to contact will help ease the research process. In “B2B surveying in the time of COVID-19” Doug Berdie establishes that it is better to search for and carefully select the professionals you want to work with. This will ensure you get the most accurate and reliable data vs. mass contacting professionals, which may skew your research. 

2. Keep participation restrictions in mind 

According to Boris, while searching for B2B professionals, some individuals may be inaccessible or may have limitations on what they can say or offer. You may need to broaden your research or contact more B2B professionals if you are in a niche subject area as obtaining full participation may be a challenge. This is true especially if seeking professionals working in government or health care, as these industries are known to restrict employee participation in outside projects. 

3. Make use of your network

To start finding B2B professionals, turn to your immediate network. Oftentimes they may have connections to individuals you want to work with. Those in your network may include your co-workers, people in different company departments or connections you've formed at events or company outings. 

Berdie says that if people in your organization are aware of a B2B expert who can help you, allow them to make the initial contact. If the B2B expert shows interest in participating in your research, they can be introduced to you. This method often leads to more reliable participants, as they are not complete strangers and have a connection to you. 

4. Use expert networks

Expert networks aim to connect clients with specific industry professionals or resources. In the article “The risks and rewards of using expert networks for B2B research” by Sean Campbell and Raeanne Bilow, they explain that while the quality of respondents is better when using expert networks, using them is often more expensive than other participant recruiting options. 

 5. Consider phone and e-mail outreach

If you are looking to get a broad range of respondents for your research project, consider contacting them by e-mail or telephone. Boris suggests that a list be compiled of your target research respondents to keep track of every potential participant. Contacting people via phone or e-mail may be time consuming but can be effective. 

If budget allows, consider using expert networks to find more niche B2B participants. They also offer a more up-to-date database of potential candidates. Bilow and Campbell say that while expert networks may help you contact more professionals, a single network should not be relied on as they also have their own specializations and may not be able to connect you to a broad range of candidates for all research projects.

6. Utilize online panels

Online panels are beneficial if looking for a wide range of B2B professionals. They are often a more cost-effective option, especially compared to expert networks. John Wulff, author of “Are your B2B online respondents qualified,” says that when using online panels, B2B panelists should be prescreened to ensure that they are reliable and to avoid any inaccurate data. Prescreening potential participants will also help avoid any issues further into the research. 

7. Be available and hands-on throughout the process

In the article “4 ways you can foster more effective recruiting,” author Angela McCue says that even though you are the research expert, you should be there for the recruiting process. Being present can help establish a connection with the B2B experts or your team which may include an agency, project manager or recruiter. Working with the research team to find the B2B professionals needed will show potential candidates that you are involved and working hands on to have a successful research project. 

Regardless of whether you need to find a niche or broad range of B2B experts, these seven tips will help ease the process and lead you to success.