Editor’s note: Jason Jacobson is director of consumer insights at Woodside Homes. 

Insights clients and research suppliers don’t always see eye to eye. Is it possible to bridge the gap in perspectives and elevate the relationship between research clients and suppliers? Yes – and it starts with having empathy and understanding between the two sides. 

Just over two years ago – after 20 years on the consulting side (aka the Light Side) – I made the move to the client side (affectionately known as the Dark Side). It was an eye-opening experience seeing insights from the other side of the table. Like so many things in life, when you walk in someone else's shoes, you see things differently. 

If we work together and see things from both sides, we can bridge the gap and improve client/supplier relationships and client satisfaction levels. In this article, I will share five areas where I think we can make a difference.

When you receive an RFP as a supplier, it’s easy to get excited and start putting together an approach and slides to try to win the business. However, what often falls short is the personalization of the proposal. It’s important to tailor your proposal to the specific business issues of the client, rather than using canned templated slides. It's also important to follow up after receipt of the RFP to express interest in being given the chance to present in person. Clients want suppliers to be successful partners, so they should provide guidance on what they're looking for in a proposal. In turn, suppliers should keep the lines of communication open and check in regularly on the status of the RFP.

When suppliers start on a research project, it is important for them to come to an agreement with the client about objectives and expectations. This will help to lessen the gap between the supplier's narrow focus on methodology, questions and insights for a singular study, and the client's...