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5 min

How do B2B expert networks work?

All you need to know about B2B expert networks

Navya Lamba
Jul 1, 2022

What is a B2B expert network?

Today’s world is constantly changing, be it new technology disruption, increasing globalisation or transformative innovation. Businesses need up-to-date information at regular intervals to adapt in today’s challenging environment and they do so with the help of B2B expert networks.

An expert network is an information service provider that matches clients with experts who are compensated for sharing their market expert insights through phone or video consultations, typically in the form of 1-hour interviews. Expert networks not only help in matching experts with clients, but also oversee scheduling the interviews and handling payments.

InexOne claims that the B2B expert networks industry has crossed $1.9 Bn in 2021, coming from more than 100 expert networks. If you want to learn the benefits of joining a B2B expert network you can check our blog on our website.

Why do businesses need expert networks?

Some reasons why companies employ B2B expert networks are to benchmark themselves against competitors, conduct commercial due diligence and understand sudden market dips. As trends keep evolving, the need for relevant deep information on ever-changing markets, products and services is growing. B2B Expert networks give expertise beyond the knowledge capabilities of clients. Through B2B expert networks, clients have the chance to get answers to the particular questions they have directly and quickly. Therefore, this is a better source than secondary research such as market reports or desktop research.

Expert networks are tapping into an emerging demand for instant knowledge. In a world where customers want instant information such as tracking where their Uber driver is or their Amazon order, imagine how this need is magnified for businesses. For them, it can be a matter of make or break. For companies, it also results in time savings that could be spent doing core activities. The B2B expert network industry features the big five players: GLG, Guidepoint Global, AlphaSights, Third Bridge and Coleman Research.

Who are B2B experts?

B2B experts could be any of the following:

  1. C-level executives with years of experience in an industry
  2. Mid or senior management working professionals with an expertise in a certain department such as marketing or finance
  3. Technology and innovation specialists, technicians or professors 
  4. Thought leaders in specific industries
  5. End or direct users of products.

How do B2B expert networks work?

Generally, the expert network provider starts with recruiting experts on LinkedIn, Twitter etc. This process is automated by artificial intelligence and then the chosen experts are vetted by people. B2B experts can be hired either on a short or long term basis. Contracts can also be arranged on a case by case basis i.e. for a certain project or a freelance agreement. If you don’t want to go with a B2B expert network provider, you can also choose to work with individual B2B experts. These experts are not associated with a network and set their own rates. However, if you do decide to go with an expert network, the process is very straightforward and is explained as follows.

First, the company establishes that they are in need of a global expert network. That is because either they can increase their success rate or because they want to achieve a competitive advantage. Then, they submit a list of requirements to a B2B expert network that matches them with a relevant expert. These requirements could be their job role or number of years of experience. Finally, the expert network matches the firm with their preferred B2B expert. 

Business models of B2B expert networks

Below we explore two business models that explain how a B2B expert network operates and makes money:

1. Subscription based model

Most B2B expert networks are subscription based where clients are paying a yearly or monthly fee. B2B expert networks then cut a part of this fee as commission. Additional services such as transcripts can be also charged in the deal. The subscription-based model is still in wide use. However, in the last few years more flexible payment models have come up. These are referred to as pay-per-use models that charge clients by the hour or minute of expert consultation time. There’s no long term commitment involved in this method. This model is useful for lesser usage patterns such as a one-off consult or infrequent needs.

2. Recruiting model

The way a B2B expert network recruits experts also defines their business model. Old school B2B expert networks rely on traditional methods to hunt the experts such as personal contacts, word of mouth recommendations. Then we have the technologically enabled B2B expert networks. These B2B expert networks use AI and machine learning algorithms. This takes away the pain of manually recruiting B2B experts and also cuts down search costs. A third type of business model are self-serve marketplaces. They facilitate an open platform for customers to directly find experts. Experts are sourced in a generic fashion so it may be the case that your business does not find a relevant match for your specific needs. 

With the Covid-19 pandemic, today’s word has become more uncertain than ever. In order to navigate this new normal, businesses now need to constantly be on their toes. One way to reduce this uncertainty is to be up-to-date with what’s happening in your industry. B2B expert networks can be a great help to solve this problem. If you want to achieve, competitive advantage for your business consider using a B2B expert. If you are unsure on how to find one, we can help. GrapeData can source the right B2B expert for your business in a matter of days.

On the flip side, if you want to become an expert to share your expert insights, we are also here to help. You can sign up to be a B2B expert here. GrapeData has you covered! We are a technology backed survey solution that specialise in B2B panels for commercial due diligence with a focus on hard-to-reach populations, such as decision-makers in B2B and niche B2C, in over 90 countries.