“We may be lost, but we’re making good time.”
One of my favorite aunts was known for this saying, and I think of it every time I hear about a company conducting research that’s long on procedure and short on information that will actually move the business.
It’s important to conduct research into your market before targeting prospects in order to fully understand who you’re approaching, and data from studies you have conducted can help move prospects into a close. While we all want to conduct legitimate research, it’s also critical to make sure that our approach is going to give us data that improves results versus a huge research report that sits on a shelf and gathers dust.
Based on research conducted over the past 20 years, following are three guidelines for conducting research that you can really use to improve your insurance practice.
#1: Define success clearly
Before you begin a study, clearly articulate your ultimate goals and how you will know you have achieved them.
Ultimate goals are defined as improved business results (i.e., increased sales, better utilization of resources) rather than the typical stated objectives for a research project, which are often about methodology (i.e., surveying 500 employees or conducting eight focus groups). In other words, start by identifying your measures of success and then work backwards to determine your approach.
Clearly defined goals will help determine both methodology and the deliverables for the research, which don’t necessarily have to involve a research report.
#2: Present findings clearly and meaningfully
I once attended a presentation conducted by two agency research directors who passionately reviewed extensive charts and graphs and talked about means and regression analyses. Afterwards, I overheard one audience member whisper to another, “Wow — it was like they were making research love. I thought they were going to light up a cigarette afterward. I don’t have a clue what they were talking about.”
While enthusiasm is always a positive, it’s vital to keep your audience in mind when you explain your findings. The more you can speak your audience’s language (i.e., “move more cases”) and associate what you are doing with their bottom line and values, the greater your likelihood of success at helping them to improve their condition.