Tutorial – Marketing surveys: How to use surveys in the sales process


Before you start to sell, ask questions and learn about your prospects.

marketing surveysPeople often think of selling as a talking exercise.  But in fact, selling is more of a listening exercise.

Every good sales person will tell you their success comes with an understanding of their prospects.

When you know about the needs, wants, goals and frustrations of your prospects, you can tailor your message to each individual.

And you can get this information with marketing surveys (or questionnaires).


Market research vs. lead generation

Marketers have traditionally used surveys to collect information about a target audience group as part of a market research effort.   The results are collected, tabulated and then interpreted to assist the client company in their planning.

In some cases, the data is produced in a report and made available to a larger audience.   This helps to position the market researcher as an expert in the field.

But we also use surveys for a more direct purpose.  By targeting specific individuals with specific questions, we can learn about those individuals and what it might take to communicate with them and persuade them most effectively.


Objectives of a survey

  • Market research – using surveys to gather data about a market to help with strategic planning.  Publish data and distribute to enhance expertise in the industry.
  • Lead generation – using surveys as a first-contact marketing tactic to identify prospective customers and build a list of leads.
  • Lead qualification – using surveys as a second contact to learn about people who have already responded.
  • Customer satisfaction – using surveys to assess customer satisfaction and identify problem areas before they develop into larger problems.


Survey marketing channels

We can conduct surveys through a variety of marketing channels, including:

  • Direct mail (paper surveys that get returned by mail or invites prospects to visit online)
  • Telephone (voice surveys that part of an outbound telephone campaign)
  • Online (electronic surveys hosted online)
  • In person (paper surveys conducted at trade shows or at retail locations)


Length of surveys

Surveys should be as long as they need to be – but no longer.    To maximize response, keep it short and simple.

You should have a sense of what you need to ask to accomplish your objectives.  Sometimes this may require a longer survey – even if it does sacrifice the overall response.

As a rule, try to keep your survey to 10-20 questions (mostly multiple choice). When using a paper survey, try to keep it to two pages.  If you are using an electronic survey, keep all the questions visible so people can see how long it is.  (Many electronic surveys show one question at a time leaving you wondering how many more questions you need to ask.)


Types of questions to ask

  • Most, if not all, of your questions should be multiple choice.
  • Keep the questions easy to answer.  Do not force the respondent to have to look for the answers.  They won’t.
  • Don’t get too personal.  If you want to pry a bit, make it an optional question.  You don’t want to lose respondents over a question or two.
  • Ask questions that are important to your selling process or your marketing strategy.
  • Start off with very simple “opinion” questions to get the responded on board.  Then move into the more substantive questions.

Sprinkle in a few leading questions that are more designed to convey information than collect it.  Questions like “Were you aware the ABC company was recently voted the leading …” You don’t really care about the answer.  You just want to get that information out.

Keep in mind that people read surveys more intently than they read promotional materials.


Gifts for responding

People will respond if you ask.  You don’t need a gift, but a gift (also known as a premium) will definitely lift your response.

Consider small gifts ($5 or $10 gift cards) for responding plus entrance into a drawing for a large gift.

While gifts will increase your response, they will also increase your costs.  So be sure to calculate the costs into your overall ROI.

And don’t forget to test.  Test different gifts and test no gift.


Learn more

Download our FREE report:  Making Snail Mail Work:  13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy
Or check out these pages:

Direct Mail Campaigns


Direct Mail Applications

Mailing Lists

Direct Response Offers

Direct Mail Creative

Direct Mail Copywriting


Direct Mail Formats

Postage Rates

Response Rates


Back to Tutorials ==>>

copywriting kit graphic