The Imperative

Have a think about the last time you told a good story and everyone laughed or understood. You must have built up rapport. That’s what more New Zealand exporters need to do when heading overseas. It’s not enough to simply lay out your product or service.

Perceptions research by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise shows that Kiwi exporters need to tell much stronger stories when approaching potential partners. The research shows that New Zealand business people often convey the wrong image – they can be seen as not committed to long-term partnerships, transactional-focused, behind in technology and, while seen as strong in human values, lacking in business acumen.

Kiwis also tend to under-sell their abilities overseas, so they are not securing business opportunities despite the quality of their products and services.

To enter an overseas market, an exporter needs endurance and resources – $250,000 to establish a product in Japan; up to $1 million to set up in Australia. To set up an office and last two years before profits are generated will require up to $2 million.¹ If exporters are going to invest that sort of money, they need to know they are giving themselves the best possible chance of success.

Pitching has also changed with increased competition. Exporters now need to demonstrate an understanding of the situation a potential partner is working in and to convey a deep appreciation of the emotional and rational needs a customer has, before selling them a solution.

Exporters may have great business and analytical abilities, but they also need to develop an emotional connection through persuasive stories to attract partners, investors, distributors and customers. 

Once that connection is made, and a relationship formed, exporters will find they won’t need to spend as much on other things, such as travel, to maintain it. They will be remembered and their story retold.

¹ New Zealand Trade and Enterprise figures, some published in bright magazine


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