7 Tips for Sampling IT Decision Makers

June 29, 2023

Technology undeniably rules the world today. Whether a company is a technology seller or user, IT Decision Makers (ITDMs) are highly desirable and sought-after marketing research respondents. However, finding a good sample of ITDMs is easier said than done.

ITDMs have a mind-boggling array of titles, and there is no master licensing authority to help you confirm if the person you think you are interviewing is actually in an ITDM role. Specifying which respondents are qualified is the key to success. Are you looking for the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Technology Officer, the Vice President of IT, the Vice President of Applications Development, or all of them? Should the organization they work for have a distributed IT role or a centralized IT organization? Are you looking for the technology purchaser, the technology influencer (gatekeeper), or the technology user?

However, despite these challenges, qualified ITDM respondents can be found if researchers follow these tips:

  1. Validate, validate, validate. And then validate some more. Use every tool at your disposal to make sure your respondent is qualified to answer your survey. Your screener is all-important, as are trap questions with answers that make it easy for you to remove low-quality respondents. Also, just because you purchased an ITDM sample or have your own or your client’s customer/prospect list, do not assume that everyone is a qualified respondent. Keep testing them to ensure they can give you the high-quality information you need.
  2. Be patient. ITDMs are busy people, and you will not get a 2- or 3-day turnaround with this group. Assume data collection will take 4 to 7 days for an online survey. If possible, run your study over a weekend, as Monday-through-Friday fielding might not be optimal for ITDMs.
  3. You get what you pay for. Because ITDMs are rare and busy, you will need to increase the incentive you pay them to complete an ITDM survey. A rule of thumb is $1 to $2 per minute of participation, but you may have to pay even more for senior or hard-to-find respondents. A Chief Information Officer will command a higher incentive than a Programmer.
  4. No surprises. With ITDMs, you can conduct quantitative (most frequently online surveys), qualitative research (most frequently in-depth interviews), or a blended (hybrid) methodology. In all cases, it is critical to communicate clearly (preferably by email) about participation requirements. Tell them honestly how long they will be participating so that they can plan accordingly and be willing participants at a time that works best for their schedule to devote the time needed to complete the task at hand properly to ensure the best survey results.
  5. Conduct data-quality checks. Cheating on surveys is rampant when looking for this group because of attractive incentives and unqualified respondents trying to complete by Googling their answers. After the data is collected, be vigilant in cleaning the data to remove low-quality and unqualified respondents. In addition to the usual “speedsters” (respondents who complete the survey much more quickly than others) and “straightliners” (respondents who give the same answer to every item in a matrix question), you should also add red herring questions to identify respondents to eliminate. Additionally, include open-ended questions related to their job or the survey topic to evaluate their level of knowledge. Yes, this does require a human being to read each answer and make the call to keep or toss, but the improvement in your data quality will be worth it.
  6. Go retro with CATI. While it may seem strange to talk about a phone survey with technology professionals, CATI interviewing to find and survey this group is a great option to get the qualified completes you need. CATI is especially helpful to validate they are in the IT industry and qualified to take your survey because getting the respondent on the phone and asking them IT related questions is much more reliable than hoping the online respondent is being honest. Post-survey deletion rates via traditional online ITDM surveys is skyrocketing because of the rampant cheating and deleting 25% to 50% or more of your completes is not uncommon once you dig into the data. This is where CATI can save the day (and your project).
  7. The last and most important is using a dedicated ITDM panel. While many sample companies say they have an ITDM panel, most are not truly dedicated panels. Some companies simply search their usual panels for people with IT-sounding titles (see opening paragraph). A dedicated ITDM panel is thoroughly vetted to ensure that each respondent truly has the qualifications to be considered an ITDM. Additionally, with a dedicated ITDM panel, you can target business information (such as company revenue, employee size, or professional qualifications/experience) to fill your sample.

ITDMs – like many B2B samples – are getting more difficult to find, so it is essential that you partner with a well-qualified and experienced panel provider to procure your sample. A challenging sample is usually a more expensive sample but working with a partner who understands the specifications of your specific target will pay off at the end of the project with better quality data and insights.

Check out Symmetric’s Dedicated TIDM Panel! Contact us today at info@symmetricsampling.com