5 types of research buyers you MUST avoid

howtosayno“Client is always right” is one of the most stupid statement you could ever hear. No the client is not always right and the sooner you understand it the better it is for the growth of your business. In a recessionary economy where every penny counts we are tempted to bring on board any client that comes our way- but this strategy can be counterproductive. To say NO to a client is the most difficult step any entrepreneur can take but many a times it becomes MUST. This article illustrates 5 types of research buyers you must avoid.

Type 1: Work on my timeline

We all have come across clients who will plead, threaten and beg to get a research project done in a timeline which they have provided – on the top of it they want quality work also. If a project requires 3 weeks then it simply means – it requires 3 weeks – if the client insist to get it done in 1 week – avoid the client.

As there is no way you can reduce the timeline by 1/3rd to please the client. If you take on such projects you are bound to miss the timeline or submit crap results. It is better to say NO than to say SORRY later on.

I understand that the clients always take a buffer so that in a scenario where research provider exceeds timeline – the client still has got leverage because of the buffer.

In a practical world this strategy works well but the problem clients are those which will push you to get the project completed in impossible time – many a times it is the fault of the client as they may have submitted the project late and now to compensate and save their skin they will push the research agency to work overtime and get the results.

The bottom line is that every research project requires a certain amount of time to be completed and compromising on it to please and accommodate a client is dangerous.

Type 2: Work on my pricing

To all the clients who haggle over prices I just have one thing to say – “if you pay me for peanuts you will get peanuts”

Buying research services is totally different from buying cheap household items from a night market – there you can haggle from the street vendor for items but it looks ridiculous if you are looking for insights and knowledge but are cribbing about the price.

There is nothing wrong about negotiating on budget but fighting tooth and nail for every dollar is atrocious. I am more comfortable working with small clients who pay well than a multinational big client who pester me for discount.

To get a research project done it requires expenditures on the part of the research agency plus they have to make profit also – therefore the client who are looking for quality at cheapest price should be avoided.

The bottom line is that if you are looking for discounts I am selling insights not vegetables.

Type 3: Update me every hour

There is something called trust and if a client has engaged my services they better have some trust in my capabilities. But there are some immature clients who will literally try to sit on my head and see the progress of the work.

Delivering relevant insights is no monkey business – it requires concentration and dedication and if I waste my precious time updating clients after every hour I will not meet the deadline.

You should tell clients straightaway before the start of every project as to how and when they will be updated about the progress of the project and if due to unforeseen circumstances there is a delay in data deliveries how much time before hand you will update them.

But if a client still pesters with constant mails and phone calls it is better to avoid such amateur clients.

The bottom line is that I also have other important work to do. So more a client distracts me with irrelevant queries the lesser quality work I will be able to do.

Type 4: Not sure what I want

Have you come across clients who have no freaking idea even at the end of the research presentation as to what they really want?

Before you start a research project clearly define what will be the insights that will be delivered for example “you will come to know the brand preferences of the targeted consumers”

Get the client sign on the expected insights to be delivered. It is a safe way to avoid confusions later on.

There are many instances when the client complains about the inadequate insights or not overall happy with the findings – but if you have agreed upon the expected results such situations can be avoided.

Always remember that your client is not always as intelligent as you are – so they need to be told things in black and white.

But even after all the proactive methods if the client is still not convinced with the results it is high time to let go off such a client.

The bottom line is that it is better to work with clients who value your findings. A confused client will do no good to your business.

Type 5: Fake clients (Research Aggregators)

There are many unscrupulous individuals who create websites and pose as potential clients – but in reality they are just research services aggregators. These individuals don’t have the brains and the balls to create their own services so like blood sucking leeches will try to aggregate services and make some quick money.

These research aggregators are of the most dangerous variety as not only they will eat into your profit margins if you let them survive but will also indulge in data fudging to make quick money.

For example such a fake client utilizes your services and gets the work done for the end client. All along it is your hard work and this fake client has just forwarded mails. Now the next time when this fake client gets business based on the previous good work (which is actually your labor) they will simply hire another cheap agency or worse will fudge data to make money.

In the above scenario not only you will lose business in the long run but also the reputation of your market will dip drastically. This is the biggest issue that Indian market research industry is facing – the aggregators have really spoiled the client perception and they are weary of engaging the good local research agencies.

The bottom line is summed up by the following verse from Bible: “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.” So avoid these deceitful research aggregators at all cost.

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal

Akshay Kanyal writes survey research reviews on his popular blog Online MR. He’s an avid blogger, brand consultant and a content marketing expert, helping business owners to craft content that sells.

He provides content marketing advice to start-ups and innovation driven companies. He can be contacted at editor@onlinemr.com

You can also connect with him on LinkedIn ; Facebook ; Twitter


  1. Camille Kille says:

    Thank you for your honesty. Managing clients has always been difficult for researchers and you make some very valid points, however, most senior managers don’t follow these rules as they just push it down the ladder.