As qualitative researchers it’s our job to understand and interpret people, to find out their thoughts and feelings, and to understand why they do the things they do. Although often overlooked, this ability to relate with people and understand them is also essential to business development and dare we say it, sales. Potential clients don’t necessarily want a generic business pitch from you, and instead want to know that you understand their business needs and care about solving their problems. There are plenty of ways to connect with and nurture a new business lead without a pitch and luckily for you, these are all innate in the skill set of a qualitative researcher.
Listen and empathize
Sometimes, the best way to communicate that you care is simply by listening. Paying attention to your potential client’s needs helps to show your dedication to helping them and will help you prove that you understand them in the long run. The information that you gain by listening will give you a head-start in a competitive pitch, as you can target your offering to their specific needs and increase your relevancy to their business.
Be curious and open-minded
As qualitative researchers you should always be driven to find the deepest insights. This is no different when meeting and interacting with a new business lead. Your curious mind should lead you to ask lots of questions, to get to the root of a problem and figure out how you can help them best. Like listening, asking questions will show your interest in their problems and will therefore indicate that you care.
Thought leadership is as important for generating business leads as it is for nurturing them. Establishing your expertise in your field is an easy way for you to initially attract potential clients and build their trust as they gain confidence in your proficiency. There are multiple simple ways to portray thought leadership. Writing blogs for your website and creating downloadable whitepapers and e-books on topics that are relevant to your industry will show that you are a leader in your field and are committed to the overall success of the industry, rather than just your own financial gain. Thought leadership can also be achieved through content marketing, PR and presentations at conferences.
Although as qualitative researchers you’re part of the market research industry, it’s also important to show a potential client your knowledge of the wider business context that is relevant to them. While proving qualitative research skills and abilities is obviously essential for gaining new business, you can stand out from competitors by asserting your knowledge specific to their field that will show you understand their business needs in context.
While qualitative researchers collaborate all the time, it is also a crucial term to consider when interacting with a new business lead. Collaboration implies working together as equals to achieve a goal. This implies that you gain equally from the relationship and are therefore equally as invested in the results. You can read more about using the right terminology to describe your relationship with a client in our previous blog.
Generating new business is important for any company to survive and thrive, so it’s easy to get caught up in the process and forget the humanity of the people behind the business you’re trying to attract. Exhibiting your knowledge and expertise and indicating your genuine care for the company’s business needs is a far more attractive offer than a generic business pitch which does little to personalize their experience of your offering. As qualitative researchers you’re not strangers to human interaction, so use your innate qual skills to get the best out of your business development.