As you are working toward Go-to-Market Fit, buyer research is one of the most important tools at your disposal. Conducting buyer research enables you to, in a systematic way, gather the data you need about your customers and their needs to create the strategies that will help you reach Go-to-Market Fit. You can conduct this research in multiple, both quantitative and qualitative, ways. We recommend having at least one qualitative research method in your arsenal: buyer research calls.
Get Oxx's Question Bank for Buyer Research Calls here.
What are buyer research calls?
Buyer research calls are interviews that dive deep into the buyer's point of view, with the aim to understand the purchase process in depth. The outputs are used to improve marketing and sales processes. You can think of it as the commercial equivalent of conducting user research during the product design process. User research and user testing are key tools frequently used when designing great products. Because, no matter how good the product team's intuitions are about their target users, exposing designs or features to a wider audience usually generates unexpected insights. In the same way, a company's initial GTM process is often built up based on trial and error, starting with the commercial team members’ intuitions on what works- or doesn't work. While these are usually at least partially correct, they don’t provide the full picture.
Can’t you get these insights from your account managers? Account managers sit on a lot of information, however, the rationale behind conducting buyer research is to systematically gather data. In other words, buyer research calls do not:
Replace having commercial team members join sales discovery calls
Replace the insights account managers or customer success reps gather about customers
Replace founders speaking to their customers all the time – or setting a company culture where employees speak to customers or rotate into customer support
Rather, it's about scaling these learnings to a systematic process. The collected learnings help refine hypotheses about positioning, messaging, pricing, sales process, marketing channels, marketing content, sales enablement content, etc. – and more importantly prioritising among initiatives.
Who should run the calls? It's often helpful if a "semi-fresh pair of eyes" leads the process. This is generally is a new mid-level or senior-level marketing hire.
When? The "right time" to conduct buyer research calls is often when your company reaches between 15 and 40 employees. It's when the product is complete, product-market fit has mostly settled and it's time to transition from a founder-led/founder-assisted sales motion to a self-sustaining GTM motion.
How? We’ve written out a sample process below, but feel free to adapt this to your company’s ways of working:
Write up a script for the calls with ca 6-12 questions (pick and choose from a question bank we’ve put together grouped by Go-To-Market motion). After you have done two or three calls, feel free to iterate the script but try to keep as high consistency throughout as possible to not impact the validity of the results.
Set a first sample size of companies to interview. 5 is a reasonable starting point, after which you can assess how many more you would need to ensure significance of the data.
Schedule 30 minute calls with the key buyers at each of these companies. Try to get a mix between both customers and lost prospects. Though it may be difficult to schedule calls with lost prospects, it is worth trying. Their insights are very helpful as these will provide another perspective to your customers.
Record the calls. Make sure to get the interviewee’s permission beforehand.
After each batch of 5 calls, assess whether there's sufficient repetition in the answers that the set of "anecdata" – anecdotal data – makes it possible to draw conclusions. If not, schedule another 5.
In a working group with the key functional leaders (for pricing, sales processes, demand generation etc.), discuss how to translate the learnings about your buyer’s purchasing processes, pricing expectations, and problems translate into actionable initiatives for each team to adjust their strategy and tactics.
Hope this has provided you with inspiration to get started – the insights generated from buyer research help you make better informed decisions on your growth journey. Good luck!