Being a company which is 99% export based – with the majority of our clients in the United States and Europe – has resulted in a lack of local awareness of Endace. But coming into this market now gives us a chance to bring our off-shore learnings and methods of success to the New Zealand infrastructure sector.
Growing New Zealand as our latest market has made one thing abundantly clear and it’s a point that many Kiwi companies seem to miss. As a Kiwi company with global aspirations, you need to look for the wood in amongst the trees. In the US market, it would be called patriotic product preference, but as I’ve seen time and again working in the New Zealand market, local businesses both big and small will, without fail, choose local product over an international option.
Having worked around the world, I’ve never seen as strong a commitment to this idea as in the Australia/New Zealand region where it’s almost hardwired, and I think the channel needs to realise this and make the most of it.
As an example, in a previous role, we’d had a request for proposal to deliver a software solution to a major New Zealand bank. I was working for a large firm, we had a hugely reputable international software solution ready to implement and were competing against a few Kiwi tech firms which had created something with a tiny team in the equivalent of the garden shed. I assumed it was a done deal and we had it in the bag, but to my surprise, we didn’t win. It turned out the bank wanted to support local technology and innovation, something that isn’t a huge motivator in the US and UK markets, providing my first demonstration of the weight this idea carriers here.
The real point for Kiwi companies and partners is don’t overlook it and sell yourself short. Don’t be afraid to back your ‘Kiwiness’, be proud of your home-grown success, and make the most of it.
Cultivate what you’ve got
This brings me to my next point of cultivating what you’ve already got – for existing clients, channel partners and new business opportunities – and use your local assets.
There is a tendency to underestimate the strength and credibility it gives you in front of a client to have the development team, local HQ and support staff available. While it may sometimes feel it’s worth keeping a separation as a partner between the developers and the client, you should never be afraid to call in these assets and use them to get a final deal across the line or show the added value you can provide.
In a major deal we recently closed with a local telco, we ended up flying the development team back and forth to meet the client and partners’ support team until they were firmly meshed. While it is common practice overseas, the cost, time differences, logistics and travel time make it a real headache. While some of these issues still occur in New Zealand, the ability to fly a team to meet a client halfway across the country and back in the same day is a huge advantage and reinforces the value that you, as a channel partner, can deliver to your clients. The added bonus is the local team value and delivering local expertise that is relevant to your customers, and partners, market.
The final point for us when working with channel partners comes down to culture – making sure you’re the right fit, it all clicks and you have the same objectives.
When we look for partners, and make recommendations, cultural fit between our firm and theirs is vital – which is something I can’t stress enough for the channel to work on. A great example of this was our recent partnership announcement in Australia with Melbourne-based Newgen. While their technology, products and services aligned well, culturally they were a perfect fit, which makes the whole process that much smoother.
Although this is a technological industry, it’s still about people – something that occasionally seems to be forgotten.
I’d suggest at every stage working with all your partners, from developers to end users, to provide the greatest opportunities you can. From my point of view, it’s all about adding value and providing relevance – two elements that make any channel or partner relationship truly worthwhile.