In the early part of my career – when business life was more structured, somewhat slower and people were easier to access – one was unlikely to have considered a hybrid approach to B2B research. There were clear preferences for a type of methodology, quant often followed qual and there was not the proliferation of methodologies available to researchers.

Why consider a hybrid approach for B2B research now?

In today’s world, the business environment is less structured, decision groups more complex, often remote and time is a scarce commodity.  Understanding and identifying opportunities with business customers as well as evaluating the whole experience requires multiple approaches appropriate to different touch points within a business.  Different parts of the research question/problem need to be answered by different people.
Obtaining a holistic answer and full samples, where you have defined target groups, requires an inclusive and adaptive approach that is convenient to the business person.
So what would a hybrid research approach look like for B2B research? In a single study, it could be a combination of qualitative, quantitative and desk research using a combination of different methodologies.
An example of how one could fully understand the needs and challenges facing clients on a particular business issue may include some, or all, of the following :
  • A few in-depth qualitative interviews with key decision makers or influencers who are crucial to the business or leaders in the industry.
  • A targeted sample of F2F interviews, virtual or in person, with those clients who contribute 80% of the revenue.
  • A CATI approach with those people who engage with the transactional elements of your business, such as daily logistics or purchasing.
  • An online approach to the rest of the customers who make up the other 20% of the business but account for a large number of smaller accounts.
  • Desk research around changes facing the industry.
The benefits of hybrid approaches are answering both the “what” and “why”, thus providing a more holistic answer but in a cost effective, shorter, more targeted manner resulting in happier respondents and clients.

Selecting a research supplier who understands businesses, their complexities and how they operate is key to conducting successful hybrid B2B research.