Need Better Business Insights? Biz Dev Leaders Recommend These 14 Sources

Clarke Irish

When looking to gain business insights, there are many different avenues a leader can use to obtain insider knowledge. Combining analysis and data through ethnographic research, in-person studies and more can give your business an advantage in understanding current markets.

We asked a panel of Forbes Business Development Council members to each share one way they’ve personally found great business insights that stuck with them. Below, they detail 14 places that leaders can explore to boost their business insights and their overall knowledge.

Forbes Business Development Council members recommend their top sources to utilize for business <a href=insights.”>


1. Relevant Social Media Pages

A great way to gain tremendous insight into a particular demographic of potential customers is to immerse yourself in their social media. Create a brand new account on a popular social media site like Instagram or Facebook. Start by following a few relevant people and liking pages. Then, let the algorithm suggest new connections; you’ll end up with a window into customers’ digital social lives. – Bryce Welker, Crush The CPA Exam

2. Workplace Pilot Studies

Workplace pilots represent untapped potential for business leaders. When investing in workplaces, they should leverage workplace pilots: strategically developed test areas where employees can experience settings, culture and tech that could be in the new workplace and provide feedback. This feedback ensures higher ROI, employee satisfaction and stronger recruitment and retention for organizations. – Swapna Sathyan, CannonDesign

3. Companies Outside Your Industry

Look at what other companies outside your industry are doing. Whether it’s their product, process or company culture program, look at their successes and apply their strategies in a way that best suits your organization. Innovation and progress happen all around you, so it’s important to take note and evolve for your business strategy. – Christian Valiulis, Automatic Payroll System

4. Mentors And Peers

One way I have found great business insight is by listening and learning from my mentors and peers. I love listening to their experience and advice and find it goes a long way. Chances are they have managed through many of the situations or growth points that I am experiencing. I also enjoy listening to podcasts and reading books related to leadership. The short answer is to listen with intention. – Karolina Hobson

5. In-Person Customer Conversations

Talk to your customers in person when possible and seek direct feedback on a personal level. While sending out a simple, un-personalized email survey may work to some degree, there is so much more that can be learned about from personalized, one-on-one conversations that allow you to read body language and hear your customer’s tone of voice. – Joseph LaForte, Par Funding

6. Diverse Thought Leaders

Start by focusing on an issue you have within your industry and get a diverse group of thought leaders together. This should absolutely be off-site in a pleasant location. Structure an open-ended conversation so people can see pain points. Nine times out of 10, you will get a better solution as a result of the quality of interaction and connection. You can’t solve an industry problem by yourself. – Lynn Metz, Haworth, Inc.

7. Peer Groups

More leaders should take advantage of peer groups. In addition to the benefits that come with building a better network, peer groups provide a great forum for business leaders to learn valuable information. I have participated in several groups since starting my own business and have benefited by learning from the wisdom, experiences and insights of others in the respective groups. – Adam Mendler, The Veloz Group

8. Interactive Assessment Tools

You can both collect and deliver proprietary insights via an interactive assessment tool, delivered from your website, to ask prospects questions and collect qualitative and quantitative responses. These responses are aggregated, averaged and automatically used as benchmark insights to assess each prospect. You get participant data and, in return, deliver a valuable peer comparison and assessment report. – Tom Pisello,

9. Industry Subject Matter Experts

Business insights have taken on a more important role, especially as potential clients turn to the internet for due diligence and research. There is more information available than ever, which is reason for caution; True business insight requires continuously studying the environment and actually having face-to-face conversations with subject matter experts and others in your respective industry. – Maryann Gallivan, Tunnell Consulting

10. Polls And Quizzes

A great way for all businesses to get insight right away from their audience is to ask them questions on social media. Instagram and Facebook allow anyone to ask their audience a few simple questions. I do this for clients when we are going to launch something new or test something out. Ask your audience a simple question and go to them on social media versus making them come to you. – Clinton Senkow, Influencive

11. Customer Conferences

In addition to sitting down with customers for deep-dives into their needs and feedback, attending customer conferences is a valuable way to gain business insights. Customer conferences are a great microcosm of the most pressing industry issues. I always make an effort to attend these events to keep a pulse on what is truly valuable to our customers and see how we can better serve their needs. – Norman Gennaro, Zendesk

12. Fresh Perspectives From Outsiders

It can be overwhelming to contemplate the range of paths one might pursue to gain the business insight required to differentiate ourselves. Whichever approach you prefer (e.g. reading, in-person interviews, etc.), I have found some of the best business insights by expanding beyond my industry, giving me a wholly fresh perspective that is different than what I would otherwise encounter. – Sarah Knapp, Spruce Technology

13. Trade Shows

Attending conferences and trade shows is a great way to gain insight. You are able to talk to prospects, customers and other vendors. This for me personally has helped me update our messaging and provide feedback to our team in how we are matching up in the marketplace. Connecting with others and learning their challenges is helpful as well. – Alexis Blue, MCCi

14. Anyone Who Has Had Contact With Your Brand

I have worked in 40 markets and the most important thing I have learned is to leave your desk and meet up with real customers. Talk to consumers, promoters, retailers and store clerks, talk to anyone who has had contact with your brand. Use technology to do pre-work or validate a hypothesis you discovered in real life. Make data-driven decisions and leverage your own experience and intuition. – David Mahbub, Field Agent