Moving Respondents Nearer a Sale

Most market surveys go to some pains to avoid disclosing who is asking the questions, both to discourage competitors from getting wind of what a rival is up to, and to deter respondents from offering prejudiced replies (for or against a well known brand).

Software research, by contrast, is more up front. It tends to use the interview as a gentle opportunity to introduce the sponsor; but an introduction is where it stops. A solid survey merely gathers information. Even so, every well-chosen respondent is a possible customer in the future. Yet at the time they are being questioned, they know the questioner isn't in a position to sell, just as you know there is no point in anyone at your end being pushy.

Putting respondents at ease, as you will discover quite quickly, gets the most valid answers. By all means, be enthusiastic about the product, explain its promise lucidly, and listen carefully to everyone's responses. Reiterate their points and explain that you will definitely pass along their feedback. Once interviewees find themselves on the ground floor of a project, they are often keen to see the product when it comes out. Some even volunteer to be beta testers. When this happens, you are on your way to selling your product.

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