Legal & Ethical Aspects of B2B Mystery Shopping
B2B Mystery Shopping Is Not Industrial Espionage?
- Mystery shoppers cannot and will not steal company secrets and patents
- The sales rep is not going to provide company secrets
- The objective of the mystery shop is NOT to demean or slander the competitor, but to gather information on sales techniques (e.g., questions used by sales rep to understand shopper’s needs and objectives), customer onboarding, training and support offerings, pricing, and any other aspect that may be of interest to the client
- All the information and documentation gathered is freely given by the sales rep as part of the sales process
How is B2B Mystery Shopping Compare with B2C Mystery Shopping?
- They are similar. The significant difference is that B2B Mystery Shopping involves the use of company management personnel as shoppers. These individuals are usually involved in the decision-making to purchase a product/service for a company as well as initiating contact with vendors
Recruiting of Mystery Shoppers
- Recruiting is done by using either A) An existing list of executives held by the vendor or B) Trusted 3rd party Executive Recruiters
- Mystery shoppers must fit the profile (e.g., management position, seniority) of typical buyers of the specific product/service in question – or someone who usually initiate the process and contact vendors
- Mystery shoppers must have an up-to-date social media profile (LinkedIn)
- Mystery shoppers must also have never been customers of either the client company or any of the competitors being shopped during the project
How Not to Recruit Mystery Shoppers
- Mystery shoppers will not be recruited from social media sites like LinkedIn. I mention this because one of our competitors used LinkedIn to recruit management personnel for one of their projects, publishing a questionnaire for prospective shoppers to complete. By doing so, they informed the entire world, including the targeted competitors, that they intended to do the shop. (I kept a copy of the questionnaire.)
Identities of Mystery Shoppers Withheld to Protect Their Privacy
- The identity of the mystery shoppers will not be revealed to the client company
- During the pre-launch meeting, the client company will be able to speak directly to the mystery shoppers, but the identities of the shoppers and the client company reps will not be revealed to each other
- Email exchanges and other communications between the competitor sales reps and the mystery shoppers will be provided to the client company after the identities and contact information of the sales reps and mystery shoppers have been removed from the documents.
- At each stage of the project – from recruiting to delivery of reports and documents – the privacy of the shoppers will be strictly enforced.