The Role of Marketing Research in Contract Management
The central role of marketing research in contract management is to understand the relationship between your clients and your company – and then being able to articulate that relationship in a way that makes current and potential clients want to work with your enterprise.
With that primary purpose in mind, it’s imperative to hear the voice of your clients. That’s what strategic market research is all about – asking and listening to what consumers think about your company in their own unfiltered words.
This consumer input is available with tools, such as surveys, online or face-to-face focus groups, and brand customer panels. With this feedback, an enterprise can focus on what makes its contract management processes unique and valuable in the eyes of clients, so that points of positive differentiation can be effectively emphasized in their sales pitches.
Seek Input from People Who Are or Could Be Customers
The effectiveness of your enterprise’s market research is closely tied to the quality of customer input. Whether it’s online surveys, focus groups, or telephone interviews, client feedback provides the most-valuable information.
In this sense, “client” doesn’t only mean an existing client; it also refers to a prospective one. Sometimes the feedback you want is from prospects because they have all the characteristics of your target clients, but they’re not yet clients. Why not? What would entice them to become your clients? The answers to those questions are the key to keep a sustainable business.
With that primary purpose in mind, it’s imperative to hear the voice of the potential client. That’s what strategic market research is all about – asking and listening to what prospective clients think about a contract management enterprise in their own unfiltered words.
There are two main types of market research: qualitative and quantitative. Whether you’re working with a marketing agency or relying on your marketing department, you’ll need to identify the types of situations in which “hard data” from quantitative studies is needed.
Fine-tune Your Promotion and Sale Efforts
Client feedback also provides guidance about how to improve your promotion and sale efforts. Most current clients are eager to tell you what they want and how to better serve them.
For example, your purchasing processes may be costing your enterprise more than you think due to endless back-and-forth email discussions and lack of coordination among internal departments. Through research, you could develop a pre-approved contract template with terms and conditions that have been proven to be effective in the past and well accepted by buyers and suppliers to accelerate purchasing processes. By distributing this and other pre-approved contract templates, such as statements of work, in your contract management system, you could also streamline other contract management processes.
And, of course, consumer input allow analysis of how well current branding strategies are working. Surveys, focus groups, and customer panels enable marketing researchers to pinpoint exactly the messages that result in increased sales and brand identification – and, most importantly, why those messages were successful.
But there’s little value in asking questions of someone who is very unlikely – no matter what you do – to ever hire the list of contract management services that are being tested with the research. While research companies often on your list of clients client’s customer list, they have numerous methods to find willing and suitable participants. Outsourcing your marketing research efforts because the pros know how to filter the right participants, a step that is essential to any research project.
If you want to know what your current and potential clients think, you need to ask them, not someone else. The role of marketing research in contract management is to focus on clients in the most cost-effective way to get the input your enterprise needs.
Image Credit: Richter Frank-Jurgen