How to Select the Best Recruiting Partner for Global Market Research
Having high-quality and reliable global recruiting partners is the cornerstone of successful international market research studies. Although most of their work remains at arm’s length from the end client, one cannot underestimate the value of their expertise, solutions or management style. Remember Murphy’s Law? You got it! If you don’t invest time, education and trust in selecting your recruiting partner, anything that can go wrong, will – resulting in client dissatisfaction, loss of revenue and a poor reputation for your firm.
Here are some considerations for selecting a global recruiter.
Select a Partner With a Global Presence
Align with a recruiter with a physical presence in the global markets in which you are fielding. Your partner should be experienced in recruiting, entrenched in the local culture and aware of the social mores of the study population. Why? Suppose you receive an RFP for research in Spain and Japan. You’re eager to respond because the study is a fit with your core competencies, but you lack a recruiting partner in these markets. Before entering into a formal recruiting agreement, learn about the vendor’s capabilities and solutions and determine whether the team can provide moderators or recommend optimal cities and interview schedules. The team should also be familiar with holidays, consumer or professional schedules, work environments and participant transportation needs, to name a few. In this case, your partner should notify you if Spain or Japan observes holidays during research, if your target may be attending industry conferences or if participants are unlikely to attend interviews during certain hours of the day.
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Contract With a Vendor Who Is a Thinking Partner
Good vendors are thinking partners. They will raise red flags when the approach is cost-prohibitive or infeasible in certain countries. Think of your recruiter as an extension of your market research team and an expert in its respective market. For example, a client asked us to conduct bulletin board research with consumers in China. Rather than provide costs for online research, we consulted with a China-based recruiter who informed us that online qualitative platforms, such as bulletin boards, tend to produce poor results due to the cumbersome process of typing in Chinese and the reluctance of the target audience to commit to research over an extended number of days. Without this insight, we would not have proposed an alternative method – in this situation, in-person research. We also likely would have encountered challenges with the recruit as well as experienced difficulties finding insights based on abbreviated and otherwise limited responses.
Ensure the Recruiter Is Client-Focused
You want a recruit team that is client-focused and implements contingency plans on your behalf. Client-focused recruiters accommodate teams from geographically diverse locations in terms of backroom spaces, meals, simultaneous translations and audiovisual technology. Since the recruiter should be an extension of your firm’s team, its recruiting and fielding activities should be seamless. This means that the recruiter should anticipate upstream and downstream obstacles and plan accordingly. For instance, our team recently conducted research in Italy, and our note taker accessed the third-party video files only to discover that the files were corrupt. We immediately reached out to our recruiter, who informed us that they proactively created audio files for our study and sent the links to our team that same day. We continue to partner with this seasoned team because its translators and moderators are open to pre-interview training, the team is knowledgeable about our clients’ industries and technical jargon, and can swiftly remedy last-minute cancellations or client requests to modify interview schedules.
Expect Flexibility to Avoid Project Standstill
Expect your partner to flex to ensure project success. Six Degrees often leads studies with biotech or pharmaceutical manufacturers, which requires our recruit partners to adhere to a number of legal and regulatory requirements, including fair market value (FMV) guidelines for incentive payments. Last year, after learning that our partner’s research bid exceeded FMV for physicians in Germany, we collaborated with our recruiter to learn how, if at all, this would impact the sample in that market. We shared that feedback and set expectations with our client prior to recruiting. Our partner then accepted the payment constraint, flexed its outreach approach, and to our delight, filled quota.
Flexibility is also critical to prevent your project from coming to a halt. For example, we worked on a multicountry study with a lengthy approval process for U.K. materials. Although the team required at least three weeks to recruit, the approval process delayed the start by almost a week and a half, leaving the team to fill quota in nearly one week. This could have stalled the project. By allocating additional resources to our project and implementing a twice-daily recruit update with our team, we were able to keep the client informed of the progress and to flawlessly field in our final and most visible market.
Are you rethinking your approach to global research? What are your top considerations for selecting a recruiting partner?