Let’s face it. Most professional services executives place little value on research. They firmly believe, “I know my clients well. So, what’s the point?”

What you don’t know—or what you assume you know—could be costing you some real revenue. Let me share an example.

Just the other day we presented the results of primary prospect research to one of our clients that had commissioned it. The firm’s leadership thought that they knew their market well. One of their strongest beliefs was that their prospects were very price sensitive. The problem was it wasn’t true.

In fact, their target prospects were much more concerned about how well a firm understood their industry. Price was a minor issue. It turned out that the firm’s entire business development efforts were aimed at addressing a concern that prospective clients did not have.

The real importance of research in business growth

The bottom line is that professional services firms that do consistent, systematic, structured research on their target audiences grow faster and are more profitable. In short, primary research will help you grow your firm.

Not sure you agree? Our research with more than 1,000 global professional responses is pretty persuasive:


Professional services firms that do occasional research, grow faster and are more profitable than those who do not do any systematic research. Those firms that do frequent research (at least once per quarter) grow even faster and are even more profitable. I’m not sure how one could find a clearer case for the importance of research in business growth and profitability.

More Benefits of Professional Services Primary Research

If the opportunity for greater growth and profitability is not enough to convince you to include primary research in your marketing and business development strategies, here are a few more benefits to consider. Primary research:

  • Keeps you plugged in to client needs and demands. Stay up to date with data and findings that will help you improve your services, products, or messaging.
  • Assists you in minimizing investment risks. Use research to test pricing, concepts, target markets, and more. Spending now could save you a lot of costly mistakes later.
  • Helps you stay ahead of your competition. Current research data, findings, and insights are invaluable in helping you pivot or fine-tune your strategies and initiatives and keep ahead of your competition. Use it to strengthen your positioning, messaging, products/services, and pricing strategies.
  • Can identify possible threats or opportunities. Even with the best of planning warning signs or opportunities can be missed. Primary research can be that extra level of coverage that enables your firm to back off or move ahead by uncovering risks or rewards in time for you to adapt. Use research to make sure you are the first or the best.
  • Sets you up as a thought leader. Keep in mind that you can use research to make more informed decisions AND to generate leads and engagement by educating your target audiences. Research is great premium content. In fact, according to Demand Gen Report, “Research is the most valuable content format for reaching B2B buyers—and the most likely to be shared.”

Learn more how research can help your marketing, business development, and more

Clearly, research is important to business growth and profitability. Yet it is infrequently used by professional services firms. For this reason, the Hinge Research Institute developed the Professional Services Guide to Research – Second Edition.

We wrote it not only to help you understand why you might want to do research, but also how you might go about doing it.

Here’s a summary of what’s covered:

  • How research impacts growth and profitability.
  • Why you don’t know as much as you think about your clients.
  • Ten game-changing insights you’ll learn from your research.
  • Why conducting your own client research is often a bad idea.
  • What kind of research is best for your firm?
  • What is the best way to gather the data?
  • What ROI can you expect from your research?

Get the inside scoop on your market and make the right choices for your firm. Like all of our guides, the Professional Services Guide to Research – Second Edition is free. Download it now.

We’re there every step of the way

After reading the Professional Services Guide to Research – Second Edition, you may still have questions about primary research—especially if you have never commissioned it before. Feel free to reach out to the Hinge Research Institute. We will answer your questions around survey design, data collection, target audiences, analysis, data visualization, production timeline, research promotion, pricing, and more. We can also show you other options such as licensing existing research to get quicker engagement and return on investment. If your firm is not growing like you projected and you are not leveraging research, perhaps now is the time to make some course corrections and follow the data.

Kelly Waffle