Expert calls and surveys are the two most common tools for due diligence research. Individually, they provide data to help you develop and deliver recommendations to your clients. However, combining the two will lead to deeper, richer insights that help your clients make better and more informed decisions. That means more successful deals for clients, and a better reputation for you and your team.
While many consulting teams already use both expert calls and surveys, others might still be over-reliant on just one form of research. Teams that include both methods in their research have a clear advantage, as they:
- Can validate results by comparing information from experts against survey results.
- Get both qualitative and quantitative information.
- Save time and money by making efficient use of expert calls.
Comparing Expert Calls and Surveys
Both expert calls and surveys have clear benefits. Expert calls cannot replicate the advantages of surveys, and vice versa, as shown here:
|Reach||Narrow range of respondents with critical industry and market knowledge||Wide range of respondents to identify broader trends and attitudes|
|Results||Qualitative expert insight and context||Real-time, real-world evidence that captures current activity and helps accurately predict future behaviors|
|Potential drawbacks||Qualitative responses can be challenging to analyze and visualize for clients||Respondents can’t be asked clarifying and follow-up questions for more context|
Combining the Tools
Understanding the differences described above is the key to designing a due diligence research workflow that captures as much useful information as possible. While every engagement is different, a roadmap such as this might be useful:
- Set your research goals and parameters.
- Contact experts to develop and validate your hypotheses.
- Design and launch a survey based on your goals and expert input.
- Analyze data and identify areas requiring more context.
- Reach back out to experts to discuss survey results.
This hybrid approach can make primary research efficient and effective, and can be completed in the same timeframe as an expert-only or survey-only approach.
- The need for fewer expert calls saves time and money, and lets case team members focus on other value-adding tasks.
- Consulting with experts before the survey helps your case team write stronger questions.
- Returning to experts after the survey close helps your case team better understand the results.
The most important advantage of this hybrid approach is that it leads to stronger insights to inform your clients. Your conclusions will be based on two research methodologies: The surveys provide a strong, data-rich foundation for addressing your client’s issues and challenges, and experts can add color to and validate the results.
Adopting new tools and technologies can be disturbing, especially when teams are comfortable with existing processes – and uncomfortable with uncertainty. However, transitioning from an expert-only approach to one incorporating surveys doesn’t have to be disruptive.
Keep these ideas in mind as you adapt:
- Change is good for case team members: They can use their time more efficiently with fewer expert calls.
- Change is good for the case team itself: The team will be able to deliver better quantitative and qualitative results.
- Change is good for the client: It will have better data for decision-making.
Above all, don’t let trepidation stand in the way of progress.