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The sampling methods discussed in Chapter 7 are also used in industrial marketing. Random probability sampling is only possible when a comprehensive sampling frame (or list of all members of the population to be sampled) exists. In some industrial markets such lists do exist and are used as the basis of random probability sampling. Business directories are often used for this purpose, or internal lists such as customer lists or business mailing lists. Stratification as a sophistication of random sampling and, to some extent, quota sampling are also practised in industrial marketing research. In this case, the allocation of sample segments would be based on appropriate industrial criteria such as Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) or the size of an organization in terms of turnover, or number of employees. When applied to customer lists, stratification is used in order to ensure appropriate representation of large, medium and small customers.

A difficulty that exists in industrial sampling, which is not apparent in consumer sampling, is who is actually to be asked the questions. The sampling procedure described above may produce the name of the firms to be sampled, but the industrial marketing researcher has also to be concerned with which individual in the firm should be asked the questions or to whom a postal or telephone enquiry should be addressed. It is often a problem in industrial marketing research to know who might be the correct individual for any particular enquiry. This is further complicated by the fact that in different organizations the same functional responsibility may be held by individuals with different job titles. Only experience in a particular market can suggest the most likely prospects. Even so, problems in this area are notoriously difficult to resolve. Some filtering or screening questions at the start of the questionnaire may help to identify the qualifications of the respondent in terms of their appropriateness to complete the interview. If a postal questionnaire is sent to the firm, the covering letter should make it very clear who the ideal respondent in the firm would be.

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