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B2B Surveys: 5 Questions for Julia Urbahn

Julia Urbahn has a PhD in social sciences and has been working in institute and operational market research for over 20 years. In 2010, together with Christoph Wüthrich, she founded the full-service market research institute intervista. In a conversation with the marketing manager Dino Demarchi, Julia discusses the special requirements for B2B surveys and shows how these are considered.

Dino Demarchi: What are the special challenges for B2B surveys?

Julia Urbahn: There are many. On one hand, the target group has to be clearly defined. Who should be questioned in the company, who is the right contact person? Sometimes that’s obvious. As a rule, a survey about a new accounting software will concern the people responsible for finance. However, if, for example, the pricing of a new cyber insurance needs to be assessed, it is more difficult. This could be the IT or the insurance manager.

On the other hand, depending on the size and industry, a company weights a survey subject slightly differently. The aforementioned cyber insurance can be very important for a company operating in the digital field – the hairdresser next door might not care so much about it. Overall, selecting the right person, industry, and company size is considerably meaningful for the resulting survey findings.

Are there any other challenges? 

Julia: You must be able to ask “the right questions” in terms of the study content. After all, market researchers are not necessarily experts for diamond cutting disc, intensive care equipment, or CAD software. We solve this problem through extensive research and intensive discussions with our clients during the screening period.

And then in the B2B sector, you encounter a much more frequent problem where survey participants do not have time for an interview – you are often dealing with busy executives. Online surveys are ideal here: The respondents can participate when they have time and peace.

Julia Urbahn intervista Team

How can these people be reached?

Julia: There are different possibilities here depending on the question and data situation. In the case of a pure customer survey, e.g., concerning satisfaction or up- and cross-selling topics, contact information is usually made available on behalf of our customer.

Especially for public clients, a random sampling from the Swiss Company and Business Register (BUR) is provided.

However, our intervista B2B panel with 35,000 managers and executives throughout Switzerland is best suited for many questions. Thanks to a wealth of company-specific master data, we can make precise selections according to function (executive board, board of directors, senior management), area of ​​responsibility (e.g., HR, finance, legal, or marketing), company size, and industry.

Where is the B2B panel used?

Julia: Our B2B panel is used in many ways – from larger quantitative studies with entire industries and decision-maker groups to qualitative studies with very differentiated profiles. The latter is sometimes challenging but doable. For example, we recently conducted interviews with people who work in companies in the construction industry with up to 50 employees and who are in charge of finance decisions. We can also recruit very specific target groups such as trustees, architects or decision-makers about electricity purchases in the company.

What are the topics that are currently relevant in B2B surveys?

Julia: As in the consumer sector, the general topics in B2B surveys are diverse and often do not differ greatly from them. This ranges from general image studies to customer satisfaction surveys to pricing studies and potential analyses for new products.

If you want to single out two key themes that recur throughout all of these studies, they are not surprising: Digitization is one thing that plays a role across many sectors – what is the status of Swiss companies here, how much more digitization do they desire and in which particular areas?

On the other hand, sustainability – at least as a secondary topic – runs like a thread through many studies. It is about all ESG criteria but is increasingly about environmental aspects. I expect this will continue to increase: Companies are increasingly on their way to net-zero, making corresponding demands towards their service providers and producers – i.e., the customers of our B2B studies. And of course, this is also reflected in the study topics.

Julia Uhrbahn
Julia Urbahn
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