Market Research Overview
20 June 2024

B2B Phone Interviews: FFIND’s Success in the digital era

The world of B2B market research is undergoing a rapid transformation, driven by technological advancements and evolving work models. Traditional research methodologies, such as CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing), now face new challenges, making it crucial for research companies to adapt and find ways to communicate more effectively with the needs of our target audience. In this interview, Laura Fradella and Lucia Giuranna, Senior Project Managers at FFIND, guide us through the transformations in the realm of telephone interviews and reveal the successful strategies FFIND has adopted to navigate this digital era.

B2B Telephone Interviews: An evolving landscape

Laura, you have a decade of experience as a project manager in telephone market research. How have you seen the landscape of interviews evolve over the past 10 years?

Laura Fradella: Over the years, the world of telephone interviews has changed significantly, not only in B2C but also in B2B. Market research has had to adapt to technological innovation, the radical societal changes post-COVID, changes related to new regulations (GDPR), and the ever-increasing prevalence of mobile phones.

There have been many challenges we have had to face. The first that comes to mind is what we experienced during the pandemic, when we realized the impossibility of working in the office as we were used to and having interviewers in our call center. What initially seemed like a threat turned out to be an opportunity. FFIND, which was already starting to work with remote interviewers, accelerated this process in response to unexpected challenges. Thanks to this forward-thinking approach, CATI research did not experience interruptions, as we could rely on interviewers able to work from home with constant support from our supervisors.

The challenges, however, did not end there. Other obstacles arose, particularly in B2B, such as the difficulty of reaching target persons who were working remotely via landline numbers.

Tackling the mobile-first challenge: Reaching B2B targets

Lucia, what specific challenges have you encountered in reaching B2B targets through cold calling, considering the changing work behaviors and the difficulty in obtaining landline phone numbers?

Lucia Giuranna: In addition to the “decline of landline numbers” due to remote work, other obstacles include flexible working hours, making it difficult to schedule calls during available times. To overcome this hurdle, FFIND has adopted a more flexible approach to the fieldwork, scheduling and allocating resources across different time slots, not just traditional ones.

Another significant challenge is GDPR, which, although has impacted B2C more, also carries considerable weight in B2B. Internal company restrictions and many professionals choosing not to disclose their phone numbers or opting for non-public listings greatly hinder contact with respondents.

FFIND has also addressed issues with telecom providers and “spammy” outgoing numbers. To ensure smooth interviews and respondent satisfaction, the company has implemented an efficient number recycling system and exclusively uses clean numbers to avoid pre-emptive blocks.

Lastly, the daily bombardment of telemarketing has made people increasingly reluctant to answer calls from unknown numbers.

Specifically, what strategies has FFIND implemented to overcome the challenges related to the disappearance of landline phone numbers and changes in B2B target behavior?

Lucia Giuranna: FFIND has implemented several strategies to effectively overcome these challenges:

  1. Investing in B2B Operator Training: The professionalism and competence of operators are crucial for the success of telephone interviews. FFIND dedicates resources to ongoing training, focusing on targeted contact approaches and effective communication techniques. The goal is to capture the respondent’s attention from the outset, emphasizing the importance of the research and the value of the respondent’s contribution.
  2. Careful Selection of Telecommunication Providers: Ensuring smooth interviews and respondent satisfaction relies on the quality of telecommunication services. FFIND collaborates only with reliable partners offering high-quality and reliable services.
  3. Acquiring Profiled and Updated Data: To accurately identify the target audience, FFIND uses updated and detailed databases.
  4. Offering Flexible Alternatives: To accommodate respondent needs, FFIND provides various participation modes in research, including online surveys (CAWI), when telephone interviews are not feasible.
  5. Utilizing Social Media Advertising Platforms: Social media platforms serve as powerful tools to reach the target audience and increase visibility of FFIND’s research. Social media recruitment leverages platforms like LinkedIn and Meta to profile audiences and reach respondents based on specific demographic criteria, interests, and online behaviors.
  6. Constant Monitoring of Results: FFIND continuously monitors response rates and call resolutions to assess the effectiveness of adopted strategies and implement any necessary improvements.

Case Studies: Application of FFIND’s B2B CATI strategies

To give concreteness to the application of our B2B CATI strategies, could you mention case studies that have addressed similar challenges? How did you overcome these obstacles?

Lucia Giuranna: Certainly, I remember a rather complex project where our goal was to reach purchasing managers responsible for energy services in companies with significant energy usage (over 250 kW per month). The questionnaire was technical, dealing with complex concepts in the energy sector. To ensure effective telephone interviews, it was crucial to invest in thorough training for interviewers, ensuring they fully understood the technical concepts and terminology in the questionnaire. This involved multiple briefing sessions, including engagement with the end client to ensure correct comprehension of the concepts.

In addition to technical understanding, targeting companies with energy consumption exceeding 600 kW posed another challenge. Filters were applied based on the number of employees, assuming larger companies would have higher energy consumption. Moreover, during the appointment setting phase, interviewers were advised to verify the company’s energy consumption beforehand to avoid unnecessary appointments.

Flexibility in scheduling was essential, extending fieldwork beyond standard business hours. This allowed us to reach respondents when they were most available, thereby increasing the likelihood of active participation and higher quality responses.

Laura Fradella: Over the years, I’ve encountered several studies with challenges similar to those Lucia described. More recently, I managed a study in the communications and marketing sector that was anything but simple. Reaching the target individuals was particularly challenging, but we successfully overcame this hurdle. By using LinkedIn as a contact tool, we were able to establish direct connections with the target individuals and secure the necessary interviews.

Furthermore, the questionnaire was not straightforward; it was rich in technical terms and complex concepts. We tackled this challenge by providing our interviewers with detailed briefings on the topic and the study’s purpose. Together, we worked to make the introduction engaging and maintain the target individual’s interest throughout the interview, despite its length.

Flexibility in our interviewers’ schedules was also crucial in ensuring we could reach the interviewees outside of “standard” B2B hours. This approach allowed us to maximize our contact opportunities and gather valuable insights for our study.

The B2B CATI landscape is evolving rapidly, demanding innovative approaches to reach the target audience and gather high-quality data. FFIND’s proven strategies demonstrate our ability to adapt to these challenges and ensure the success of B2B market research projects.

Discover how FFIND is revolutionizing B2B research with innovative strategies to overcome CATI challenges in the digital era.

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