Topic: Research/Metrics

How To Find B2b Customer Needs On A New Market

Posted by victoriatkachenko on 125 Points
We are a Russian tech company that offers an ERP/business management software. This year we are planning to move to Canada, and I am currently working on the business plan to apply for Canadian investment boards.

My main dilemma is how to find more information about our target clients' needs? I gained some insights from secondary research, but it's mostly general info about why people choose to use this type of software. So, question 1: how to find as exact as possible, who are our target clients on the market that is new to us.
We need to understand if our clients in Russia are different from North American clients (they most probably are). I explored specialized B2B survey panels, but their services are over our budget.

Our product is different from other ERP systems because it's based on Excel and is much more easy (and cheaper) to use than most other software of this type. We know our competitive advantages and weaknesses, and approximately - what type of companies would choose us over competitors. But, and this is a question 2: we don't know what exactly do they need and whether we can fulfill their needs.

I would appreciate any advice and referral to relevant sources where I could learn more about B2B market research methods. Thanks in advance.
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  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    Do any of your existing clients have branches or partners in North America? If so, start by talking with people who you know that trust you to gain intelligence. Otherwise, easy/cheaper as a key differentiator may not be sufficient to cause people to switch to your offering.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    This will almost certainly require primary research in North America. I can recommend a professional who can do the job, though I have no idea how much it would cost. As it happens, I have completed a few projects in Canada using this market researcher as a sub-contractor, so the general business climate will be quite familiar.

    Let me know via email if you want to pursue this.

    I would also echo what Jay wrote: " ... easy/cheaper as a key differentiator may not be sufficient to cause people to switch to your offering." You will probably need to promise (and deliver) a superior product somehow. (We can discuss this separately, if you like.)
  • Posted by telemoxie on Accepted
    You are looking for information? If this were my project I would begin here:

    And here:

    I would read these documents, and then read them a second time, making a list of key words and concepts. I would then Google those key words and concepts, identifying and reading helpful articles, expanding my list of keywords and concepts.

    You can also research and create a list of competitor companies around the world. Review their sales literature. Create a spreadsheet so that you can compare features, functions, and benefits. This sort of information can help you understand where your product can be positioned now in the market, and what additional features that might need in order to be competitive.

    It's a big job, good luck, and take care.
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
    Jay and Michael both make great points: heed their advice and opinions.

    I agree with Jay: potential Canadian clients are likely to be found through existing Russian clients with bases of operation inside Canada, or that closely match your Russian clients. And Michael is quite right to advise you of the need to work with a North American researcher.

    “Our product is different from other ERP systems because it's based on Excel and is much more easy (and cheaper) to use than most other software of this type.”

    Stop. Do not pass “GO!” Do not collect $100.

    Saying the product is different and showing how it’s different is not the same thing.

    Different how?

    Statements like this need to be re-written and reframed into ‘because’ or ‘only’ statements.

    “Because XYZ Product is based on Excel, it operates in an environment you are already familiar with, which means …”

    “XYZ Product is the only small-business enterprise ERP system available in Canada based on Excel, a working environment you are already familiar with. This means …”

    “We know our competitive advantages and weaknesses …”

    Do you? Are you sure? Are you sure you're sure?

    Or are you assuming and guessing?

    Do you think you know these things based on what you believe or think your clients' value?

    Or do you really know and comprehend these things as they pertain to the real-world needs wants, desires, and values of existing clients in Russia who may have Canadian counterparts with the same needs, wants, desires, and values because you’ve surveyed existing clients?

    The differences here are minor in terms of thinking, though massive in terms of application and implications.

    If I ask your team to come up with their list of the top 10 things they think your clients love and appreciate about your software and I ask your clients to list the top 10 things they value about ERP software, dollars to doughnuts your in-house lists and the client lists won’t match.

    While knowing or thinking you know is a good start, being certain because you’ve carried out double-blind research and have hard evidence to back up your assertions is key.

    Similarly, while finding and understanding information about a potential Canadian client’s needs is one thing, truly comprehending what those potential clients value most as a result of the ERP services matters more.

    Often, offering something that’s faster or cheaper isn’t the value the client is looking for or that they appreciate the most. You’ll only learn what clients do appreciate most by asking them. Anyone can say they are faster or cheaper, but how many ERP SaaS providers can help clients reduce errors or eliminate overages, or help them increase their percentages in terms of compliance with established industry standards or tolerances?

    The key question you need to ask and find a series of answers to is:

    What benefits does your product allow your clients to pass on to their clients?

    Whatever those things, traits, and qualities are, they need to form the basis of your messaging moving forward.
  • Posted by victoriatkachenko on Author
    Well, probably I had to give more details, because I didn't really tell what already has been done, and what exactly our competitive advantage is, just described the situation shortly. But yes, we have done a market research and competitive research, and I have done my secondary research as far as I can already. But thanks everyone for sharing your ideas and expertise, all answers are helpful.

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