Recruiting the right business owners and senior decision-makers for user research or usability testing is hard work, and it is made harder when you need to find individuals who are not familiar with your organisation. Getting feedback from people who don’t know your products or services – and, therefore, are completely unbiased – is as essential as finding out what your actual customers think.

At People for Research, we have been sourcing users for all kinds of business-related research and testing for years, and have been lucky enough to collaborate with all kinds of companies and agencies on an extremely broad range of user recruitment briefs. No one knows more about the ins and outs of niche participant sourcing than our B2B user recruitment team, so we asked for their top tips on how to find the right people for research projects – let’s jump right in!

🪄 You don’t have to do it all by yourself

Alex-Niamh Norman, Project Manager

With the right partnerships, recruiting for your next B2B user research project can become a collaborative process, rather than a lonely journey. It does not matter how niche the participants you need to find are: a business recruitment project needn’t be a painful process. Getting the right recruitment partner will help get a scope of what is realistic and relevant to your research.

Handling every element of user research is time-consuming and can become a headache. The right partner will go beyond finding you people and will provide advice, assistance with research documents, compliance tips, and more.

🪄 Getting it right is more important than doing it quickly

Nicole Partington, Head of Projects

To get the right people to take part in research, you need to set aside time: not just to find your audience and convert them into participants, but also to allow them to find the time to take part.

The reality is that a lot of business owners and senior professionals are time-poor. For example, right now, a lot of these individuals are trying to deal with the implications of Brexit on their businesses, a global pandemic and keeping operations running. In a lot of cases, the incentive is not their main motivation to take part in your research, so they are unlikely to stop everything to try and accommodate your research schedule.

Getting the most valuable participants is more important than getting the most available participants, especially if it means you are getting better results out of it. Lead time for projects needs more flexibility, especially in the current context, to take into account situations faced by participants.

🪄 Participants are people, not numbers

Annabel Cairns, Senior Project Manager

A simple, but often forgotten aspect of participant recruitment: always consider the humans taking part in the research and adjust your expectations as you learn more about your audience. Users are not just numbers or a combination of criteria, and sometimes expanding exact specifications and being flexible can lead to more fruitful conversations.

We’re not trying to say Boeing need to start testing their engines with wealth managers, but solely focusing on ticking boxes that fit specific criteria often means the user research is not representative and can limit your findings.

A better example: if you have a campaign focused on business owners, wanting a split of individuals who have no online presence given the current situation will mean that missing out on vital findings in your market. Step into the user recruitment stage with an open mind and flexible criteria and allow yourself to learn during the screening process.

🪄 Working with a partner? Share as much as you can

Steph Rennie, Senior Project Manager

When you’re working with the right partner, you can sit back and relax for much of the user recruitment process. A good agency or freelancer will ask you the right questions, provide suitable and useful advice, make you feel comfortable about handing over all your criteria and allow you to simply watch suitable participants pop up on your screen, waiting for your approval.

A problem shared is a problem halved. Sometimes clients think putting too much on the brief over complicates things, but most of the time it makes our lives as user recruiters a lot easier.

Even if your target audience is incredibly detailed, talking to an experienced B2B recruiter can help you translate the profile complexity and your ideal persona into reality, so you can get the right people.

🪄 Value your participants’ time and dedication

Jasmine Champagnie, Project Manager

Just because a business owner or senior professional is not solely motivated to take part in research for the incentive, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to incentivise them properly. You are still asking them to take the time out of their busy day to help you, after all.

Although there isn’t a general answer to the question “how much should I offer my participants?”, there is one general truth in user recruitment: the more niche or senior your audience is, the more you have to offer to make interesting and worthwhile for them. This PFR blog about incentives was written back in 2015, but a lot of still rings true today, so give it a read if you want to go back to the basics of incentivising your participants.

That’s the advice from the B2B user recruitment team at People for Research. If you have questions about recruiting business owners, senior professionals and niche audiences for your next project, reach out to them.


Jason Stockwell, Digital Insight Lead

If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user research or usability testing get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or

At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.