Channel relations, market focus key for exporters

Getting past the 'gatekeeper' also important to success

Targeting markets and establishing good relationships with distributors are two key areas where Canterbury software exporters could improve, says James Saruchera, ICT projects leader at the Canterbury Development Corporation.

At the ES (Electronics South) Connectivity trade show in Christchurch last week, Saruchera told Computerworld that special interest groups and geographic markets need to be targeted. At the same time strategies for getting “past the gatekeeper” and through to the right person at potential customers also need to be worked out.

"Some organisations have many middle managers and getting to the right person to sell to is important", Saruchera says.

Also key is having an effective relationship with distributors and resellers and Saruchera credits much of the success of Christchurch-based Niche Software to the fact it looks after its channel.

Niche makes software that addresses occupational overuse syndrome and repetitive strain injuries, including applications that remind employees to take a break and do OOS-prevention exercises.

The company exports to Europe, particularly Scandanavia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Saruchera says aspiring software exporters should take note of the strong relationship it has built with its channel.

"Many companies don't take enough time to select the right reseller and try to get the maximum out of their reseller without putting much in.

"Niche have put a lot of time into building relationships with resellers and making their job as easy as possible."

Another conference attendee, former Jade marketing manager Owen Scott, who now runs his own marketing consultancy, Concentrate, says New Zealanders tend to be generalists, by virtue of our size, but when it comes to exporting software, there's a need to really focus when targeting export markets.

On the subject of resellers and distributors, Scott says it's necessary to identify a market and determine whether direct or channel sales is the best model and appoint a distributor afterwards.

Scott says a stumbling block to export success is that many New Zealand ICT companies "are focused on their business, but not on their customers' business."

There's a need to see their product and the customer's need as two distinct things, he says.

"You can't just put a sign up and expect there to be a queue outside the door."

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