Kiwi technology needs to sell itself smarter to realise its full potential to become the country’s largest export industry, according to the latest Market Measures report.
“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,” Concentrate managing director Owen Scott observed.
“Improving our ability to sell efficiently is one way of unlocking this potential, and ultimately becoming New Zealand’s primary export industry.”
Now in its ninth year, Market Measures - conducted alongside fellow tech marketing company Swaytech - gathers information about sales and marketing from over 300 New Zealand technology companies, and compares the results to similar data from the USA.
“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 explained.
“More than 46 per cent 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 per cent higher than the typical equivalent US sales person.
“It’s not a scalable approach to generating export sales – 40 per cent of the surveyed companies reported that productivity was their main problem when it came to managing their sales teams.”
According to Swaytech managing director Bob Pinchin, 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,” Pinchin said.
“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.”
For Scott, tech sales people are in essence “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,” he added.
Scott said 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.
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“It ranges from a stable 25 per cent of annual revenue spent on sales and marketing (including salaries and costs) for established companies, through to an aggressive 86 per cent for start-up tech businesses,” he added.