When Research Helps

Last week Stephanie Liska talked about the importance of talking regularly with your customers and prospects and understanding what’s on their minds. She shared a common piece of quantitative research that’s used in business to measure customer satisfaction, called the Net Promoter Score.

This time of year, many of you are climbing into combines with your customers for a chance to talk: to understand them and understand what’s on their minds. Sometimes this goes well and you learn a lot. Sometimes you might find that you’re not asking the right questions.

At some point, you may come to the understanding that you need help with this process.

I’ve worked with Beck Ag in the research area for four years now, and for over 20 years in research specifically. I’ve been in the ag sales and marketing arena for over 30 years. When you start a research project without a background in this area, or someone to help you, it’s a little like being your own doctor. You don’t know what you don’t know. And a little knowledge about research can be dangerous, especially if you plan on making business decisions from the results of your research. And that’s typically what we do with research, right?

Before you start a project like this, I’d caution you to have a strong understanding of what you want out of it. How are you planning to use the results?

Often when a client comes to us and wants to do a study, they start talking about what they’re looking for, and I realize from what they’re saying that we’ll need to start with a qualitative approach and oftentimes this means professional in-depth interviews. One of the warning signs that this is the case is when you’re starting to build questions for a quantitative survey, and you’re having a hard time doing that. Another sign that you’re starting with the wrong type of research is when you have an answer category called OTHER, and that’s the answer that’s getting the most responses. Or perhaps many of your questions are open-ended. These kinds of situations typically mean you need to start with qualitative research.

Qualitative research can be used on its own, or in a two-step process to build knowledge to help structure the right questions for quantitative research.

When you’re engaging in qualitative research, it’s important to have someone on the phone with your customers and prospects who can talk the talk….someone who understands the industry and the segment of the industry being researched. This someone needs to be able to engage in meaningful dialog – not just collect responses to questions.

That’s where we really shine in this business. I need to brag for just a little bit here. We know agriculture. Most of our people have been in this industry for decades. A majority of them have been in sales and marketing roles in agricultural companies through their pre-Beck Ag careers, and a lot of them farm as well. So they talk the talk. We know agriculture.

Another thing that’s really important for the end product is the ability to recruit quality survey respondents into the process. We are able to engage with the people you want to have included in your research sample. That’s because of the point I just made before this one. We know agriculture. Our Ag Tele Experts really do a good job in building a rapport with the ag sector and are very effective at recruiting quality respondents.

A professional in depth interview, like the kind we conduct regularly, can help you better understand changes and trends in the industry. You can get a better understanding of what’s on your customers’ minds and where they want to go next. We can bring to the table the kind of information from your target audience that will help you make informed decisions for the future.

HERE’S a way to learn more about our research capabilities.

If you have further questions about how we can help, please contact us at info@beckag.com.

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