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Kiwi tech needs to 'eat more of its own dog food' & sell smarter

By Julia Gabel
Thu 23 Nov 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Kiwi technology needs to start selling itself smarter  – and realise its full potential - if it wants to become the nation’s largest export industry.

That’s according to new research by Market Measures, which urges companies to ‘eat more of their own dog food’ when it comes to selling themselves.

“We don’t face the same environmental constraints of the other two major export sectors - agriculture and tourism - so the potential for tech is virtually limitless,” says Owen Scott, managing director of Concentrate Limited, who conducted the study along with Swaytech.

“Improving our ability to sell efficiently is one way of unlocking this potential, and ultimately becoming New Zealand’s primary export industry.”

“In the 2017 study we have found that Kiwi companies are over-reliant on company founders and high-value sales people to sell their products and services.”

Scott says more than 46% of companies said a founder was still closely involved in sales, and the average sales person in an export market was paid a base salary almost 50% higher than the typical equivalent US sales person.

“It’s not a scalable approach to generating export sales – 40% of the surveyed companies reported that productivity was their main problem when it came to managing their sales teams,” continues Scott.

Bob Pinchin, Swaytech’s managing director says the fact that US companies used on average three times the number of digital sales tools (e.g. email automation, contact intelligence and similar) than their New Zealand counterparts, was evidence they were more focussed on efficiency.

“In the tech industry, we call this ‘eating your own dog food’, but our firms are turning their nose up at these tools at the moment.”

“We have talented tech sales people who convert leads at an incredibly high rate, but it’s the volume of sales that is the issue – this productivity challenge is one we have to solve to overtake the other two big export industries,” says Pinchin.

While Scott adds, “Our tech sales people are really ‘artists’, talented and creative and able to craft sales, but what we need more of is scientists – people operating within a rigorous system able to produce repeatable, predictable sales results at a lower cost.”

Scott explains that more than ever before, New Zealand tech companies must be willing to invest in sales and marketing, which has been a constant trend of Market Measures since it began in 2008.

“It ranges from a stable 25% of annual revenue spent on sales and marketing (including salaries and costs) for established companies, through to an aggressive 86% for start-up tech businesses.”

Charles Haddrell, customer director at NZTE, the principal sponsor of Market Measures, comments on the findings, “Getting your sales and marketing strategies right isn’t just a nice to have – it’s a must have.”

“We’ve worked with hundreds of companies and know from experience that implementing robust sales processes, developing sales and execution skills, hiring well, and being aware of the technologies to support the sales and marketing functions are vital to being successful overseas.”

Now in its ninth year, Market Measures gathers information about sales and marketing from over 300 New Zealand technology companies, and compares the results to similar data from the USA.

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