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Bang For Your Buck: Three Pricing Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Customer Research Partner

In our last blog, we reviewed four must-ask questions when comparison shopping for any type of customer or market research program. The topic we didn’t cover, however, is the one that’s often at the forefront of people’s minds: money.

Whether you’re the lone decision-maker or trying to prove the ROI of 3rd party research to your leadership team, overall cost is an important factor in the process of choosing the right research partner. It’s important to consider not only the total price tag, but also what services you get for the price you pay (otherwise known as the “value” you receive).

Not only do you want to ensure you’re getting a good value for your customer research dollars; you also want to rest assured you know the costs ahead of time and aren’t surprised later. Customer research pricing can be complex and depends on many factors. That’s why we’re shining a light on the top three questions you should ask before you make a purchasing decision.

Does the vendor charge extra for customizations?

Your organization is unique: just like everyone else’s! That’s why strictly templated research programs rarely meet your (or anyone’s) needs. However, vendors often have templates for their work and charge additional fees for any customizations you may want added to your services. Furthermore, how does a vendor respond when priorities inevitably shift throughout the course of your program? Will they be able to accommodate changing priorities, and if so, how much extra will you end up paying?

It’s important to learn upfront what degree of customization is included in your contract, and what comes at an additional cost. That last thing you want is to be blindsided with fees after the fact. Unlike some research firms, Spailey Solutions provides fully custom research programs designed and priced to meet your needs. While we bring plenty of experience and proven methodology to the table, we don’t try to create a one-size-fits-all experience. Instead, we explore your needs and create a program to fit them and priced to reflect them. We also pride ourselves on our flexibility and we don’t hesitate to pivot if your needs change mid-program.

Does the vendor have a fixed fee structure, or a flexible one?

Just like the customization of the research program itself, it’s important to explore the flexibility available in your chosen vendor’s fees. Many vendors offer fixed pricing, as if you were ordering your research program off a fast-food menu. While this may be good for the sake of price transparency, it’s important to ask what happens when their model doesn’t fit well with your own.

Our tips include:

  • Make sure you aren’t being charged for services you don’t need just because they are part of a vendor’s service package by asking for itemized pricing for “bundled” packages.

  • Check that the vendor isn’t asking for more money to cover services that don’t require additional work be performed.

  • Clarify whether you own the data collected, or whether the vendor charges extra to hand over raw data to you, both at the end of the contract or if you need to terminate the contract mid-project.

  • Confirm the end deliverables for each program and the individuals responsible for delivering them. Will you have a single point of contact, or different team members responsible for different things?

Additionally, some vendors offer discounts based on pre-payment. Before you commit, ask the vendor about different options including discounts for annual, bi-annual, or quarterly payment flexibility; could there be new-client and multi-program discounts as well?

What are the fee terms and pricing options?

Sometimes hidden in the small print, fee terms and pricing options can turn what looks like a good deal into a bad one. It’s not enough to know how much you’ll pay: you also need to know what happens to that payment under different circumstances.

For example, a vendor may charge by the number of surveys or customer interviews performed, but include a “use it or lose it” clause where you end up paying for deliverables they never conduct, if they fail to deliver or you don’t provide exactly what is needed within a certain timeframe.

There are plenty of common loopholes used to ensure market research vendors maximize their revenue. Make sure to ask thorough questions about terms and conditions that could impact the price you pay and the services you receive.

With these three pricing questions in mind, you can shop smartly for a third-party consulting marketing insights firm that best meets your needs. Each vendor you come across in your search will have its own specific strengths and weaknesses when it comes to both methods and pricing. It’s always better to know what those are before you sign a contract!

Want to learn more and see if Spailey Solutions is the right partner for your customer research efforts? Send an email to to start the conversation today.

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