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In organizations large and small, sales and marketing teams are seeking out and using research and data. There is a good reason for this – the insights help leaders make better decisions, optimize sales and planning processes and close more business. However, getting the data and uncovering the insights requires skill and manpower. When your budget is already allocated and your team is already time-strapped and busy with other activities, it is tough to know whether you should hire an outside agency our use your in-house talent.  Here are some factors that will help you make the decision.

What Type of Research Do You Need?

Before you engage with an outside agency for research, consider what type of research you actually need. Are you looking to get competitive intelligence? Industry trends? Brand lift? Maybe you want data that you can use for marketing and sales assets.

For most industries, you can download or buy completed reports, called syndicated research, that cover market trends and competitive intelligence. You may also be able to buy access to raw data that will enable you to analyze the research yourself and pull out the insights you need. If you want more specialized research on your brand’s awareness levels after a marketing campaign, for instance, you may need to hire an outside consultancy.  It is faster and less costly to buy existing research, so look around at existing sources first.

Do You Have In-House Expertise?

Another factor to take into consideration before you hire an outside agency is whether you have the expertise and bandwidth to do the research in-house. Your product team, marketing team, business intelligence team, or finance team are places to look for skills and knowledge to get the data you need, but look at other departments too. Your people are your best asset, as the saying goes, so look to your own team before looking at an outside one.

Is the Cost Worth It?

It is tempting to hire an agency to run custom studies that deliver the exact data points you want, but keep in mind that the cost for this type of research can be very high. If you have a flexible budget that allows you to spend thousands on research, hiring an outside agency might indeed be the best option. However, if you will need to cut your budget on other activities to run these studies, you should consider whether the added benefit of having custom research is really worth it. You may be better off using existing information and spending more on marketing activities that drive awareness, for instance.

Outlining what you want to do with the research and determining what information you need will ensure that your research project is a success, regardless of whether you decide to use an agency or do your research internally.

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