Guest post: The digital sales process as a key to growth

If you are not engaging with potential customers online you are increasingly invisible in almost any technology market. But what is best practice in this area?

New Zealand consistently produces outstanding tech companies; however, a critical aspect of them continuing their growth trajectory is the ability to build an effective digital sales strategy.

Market Measures is a bench-marking study of sales and marketing in hi-tech New Zealand companies, supported by Deloitte Private and commercial lawyers, Hudson Gavin Martin, and delivered by marketing companies, Concentrate and Swaytech.

Data from local tech firms is taken and compared to a similar survey of USA hi-tech firms. As the USA is the biggest and most competitive IT market in the world, it’s the ideal yardstick for our aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

Last year, 323 New Zealand technology companies completed the survey which was the seventh annual edition of the report. Of that, 55% were established firms, 31% characterised themselves as early growth, and 14% as start-ups with the majority being software, IT services or electronics companies.

The overall conclusion of the report was that when it comes to marketing ourselves to the world, we are “bringing knives to a gunfight.”

The challenge

As the sales process becomes increasingly ‘digital’ (i.e. buyers of all stripes are researching their options, finding, evaluating and even buying technology solutions online), this presents an enormous opportunity, but also a significant challenge, for our remote nation.

New Zealand tech firms are ‘digitising’ their selling process at a faster rate but still turn up in markets like the USA poorly armed for the battle. They are still a long way off USA benchmarks, bringing the equivalent of a knife to this intense online gunfight of attracting and nurturing sales leads.

The primary source of leads for 80% of USA companies is typically indirect marketing activities such as email, advertising and social media. Only 35% of Kiwi companies utilise this more scalable, cost-effective source as their main way of generating sales opportunities.

The 'lone wolf' model identified in the 2014 Market Measures study, where talented sales people take on most of the sales and marketing effort for a company, continues to dominate in the average New Zealand tech entity.

The solution

The key to indirect marketing effectiveness is taking a ‘digital’ approach and using useful information to attract and convert leads, mainly online. While Kiwis are adopting this marketing weapon quickly, they are still ill-equipped in comparison to their USA counterparts.

Four recommendations emerged from the report to help tech entrepreneurs arm themselves for battle more effectively in tough export markets like the USA.

The first was to come prepared with greater diversity of content (i.e. data, resources and tools to help a customer in their buying process) to power their digital marketing and broaden the range of channels used to attract prospective customers to it.

Secondly, Kiwi firms need to focus on producing content to satisfy existing customers instead of producing information and tools aimed at attracting and converting sales leads.

Thirdly, they need to increase the pace and intensity of their marketing activity and find ways to make the process more automated, efficient and cost-effective.

Finally, addressing the fact that measurement is our weakest discipline when it comes to generating leads is the biggest factor we need to consider as the shift to online marketing continues.

Download the latest Market Measures report from www.marketmeasures.co.nz using the code “DPF50 to receive a free copy.

 


Owen is the Managing Director of Concentrate - a marketing company helping tech companies accelerate their growth. He has extensive experience in the New Zealand tech industry with a focus on helping businesses successfully develop, use and commercialise tech-based products and services. He is on the board of the New Zealand Hi-Tech Trust and Enable Services - the company responsible for building an ultra-fast broadband network for Christchurch.