Who to Contact

Whichever sampling method you choose, you will need a list of prospective respondents. Gathering around 500 names (you'll need extras because a proportion won't reply) takes about a week of very hard work. However, it's time well spent, as these could be potential clients.

If you aren't able to conduct the interviews yourself, find one or two bright personalities with a pleasing telephone manner to garner names and addresses (someone who isn't working that week perhaps or possibly a parent, partner, grown child, or friend, anyone who will make a credible ambassador).

Store the data in a database or spreadsheet from the start; otherwise you'll end up having to retype it. The place to start compiling your list is from your own records of business associates and leads your sales team has built up over the years. Further company names and telephone numbers may be garnered from telephone and trade directories. Once you have listed these, you will have to contact each company to solicit the name of the individual you want. Sending questionnaires out of the blue to unnamed chief technical officers or to whom it may concern just multiplies its chance of hitting the trashcan, and you will never know who to contact when your program is launched.

Companies are understandably wary of giving out employee e-mail addresses to strangers. If you want e-mail addresses, you will just have to comb the Internet.

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