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Pick the Right Field Data Collection Vendor for Your Market Research

Pick the Right Field Data Collection Vendor for Your Market Research

There’s probably nothing worse for a market research consultant than to get halfway through an engagement and realizing that your field data collection partner isn’t getting the job done. The client is expecting you to come back to them with analysis that will knock their socks off and you simply don’t have the critical primary market research you need--and that you’re paying for.

You don’t have a whole lot of options other than to return to the client and say, “I’m sorry. The field services vendor I hired didn’t get the job done.” You’re embarrassed, the client’s angry, and you’ve almost certainly lost any chance for a repeat engagement.

How do you avoid this, particularly the first time through with a vendor? After all, it’s hard to know how a data collection service will perform until you’ve actually been through an engagement with them. The solution is two-fold: who you chose as a vendor and then how you prepare them for that first engagement. We’ll tackle the former here and the latter in a separate post on vendor engagment.

3 Keys to Choosing the Right Field Data Collection Partner

  1. Choose a pro-active field data collection partner; not just a vendor who takes orders. Look for a research support company that can demonstrate a deep grasp of not just the technical aspects of primary research, but also the end goals of your particular project. There are a thousand little details that go into primary research and, if you had time to deal with them, you wouldn’t need outsource the data collection. If your partner shows they understand where you’re trying to go, you can be more confident that they’ll make the right decisions to get you there.

  1. Demand complete transparency from your prospective vendor... You should never have to guess if the partner you’re considering shares your specialization and target market. Ask the sales rep or account person for specific examples of industry experience and service-area specialization. If the answer is “we work with everyone” or anything other than a direct response, move on. A vendor's lack of specialization often leads to an inefficient use of time and resources which drives up costs. Since you're not going to be able to mark up their services much, it's important to find a vendor who specializes in your area of research. There are companies out there that specialize in every part of the primary research process, so take the time to find the vendor who is the right fit for your specific needs.

  1. ...And offer complete transparency in return.  Remember the simple principle of garbage in, garbage out. The quality of your assessments will largely be dictated by the quality of primary research data collection. Likewise, the quality of the primary research data you’re going to receive from your field services vendor will, in large part, reflect the quality and clarity of your early communications with the collection team. Establishing a clear and open communications channel right from your earliest interactions with a prospective vendor will set that expectation throughout the entire engagement.

Much like a rocket that goes wildly off-course because of a misplaced decimal point, a market research report can be wildly off-base if the data collection isn’t done properly. And much like each launch is the only one that matters for that rocket, each research engagement is the only one that matters for you and your client. The process to prevent those types of mistakes starts well before you actually hire a company to handle your data collection field services. Next time, we’ll take a look at what to do once you’ve actually hired a new vendor and the steps you can take to ensure everything remains on course.

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