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Why Tech Companies Fail: Sales and Marketing

Heather Grace, Guest post. 23 November 2016, 6:25 am
Why Tech Companies Fail: Sales and Marketing

If you are a regular reader of TechBlog you will have recently read about the five top reasons why tech companies fail. In that blog we explored the Us and Them Syndrome and identified the warning signals to look out for so you can avoid that happening to you. Today we drill down on reason number two - Sales and Marketing Failures. Read on to find out exactly what goes wrong with Sales and Marketing for tech companies.

Many tech companies have very clever technology, developed by extremely clever technical people. The technology is outstanding, the features are amazing, the possibilities are endless. Wow! But I have met many inventors, would-be entrepreneurs and stakeholders in tech companies who are struggling in business, despite having an incredible product to sell. The success gap is in the Sales and Marketing part of the business. Here are 4 common Sales and marketing errors that are fatal for your business:

  1. Why aren't they knocking on the door?

You have a fantastic product, no doubt about it. You designed and developed it, you have tested it, you know it works. So why isn't the world lining up and knocking on your door to buy it? 

If you are not telling the right people about this wonderful invention, and telling them in the right way, it is unlikely you will succeed. Many inventions die because they remain "best kept secrets" to the world. If you are a developer of clever and cool stuff, it can be tough to get out from behind your computer, pick up the phone, meet people face to face, present your ideas at trade shows etc. 

So you opt for the online sales method. Hmmm. How is that working for you? Not so well? Could be that you are still not reaching the right people and still not telling the right story. But at this point, without outside help, you might give up. It all seems too hard. You tell yourself nobody wants it, nobody cares, maybe it was a bad idea anyway. So your effort and your wonderful ideas are wasted.

But what if you have financial backing and some help to spread your message? It could be you are suffering from one of the other Sales and Marketing Failures:

I need to educate you first

Many clever cool products in the tech sector are a little more complex than non tech products. Selling a new hi-tech gadget is not the same as selling ice creams. So you need to educate your potential customers first. Before they buy it, they have to understand it, what it does, how it works and all that. Right? Yes….and no.

Yes you need to do some education, but no, you don't need to explain every mind boggling detail.

Keep it simple. If your educational takes u more than half a page or your video tutorial is more than 30 seconds, nobody cares. You will lose prospective buyers this way. Why does this go wrong? 

Tech people love the detail and they love researching stuff and are happy spending hours reading and watching videos to learn more about cool stuff. But the rest of us really just want the snapshot. If you need to educate, do it. Fast, concise, simple. We really don't want to understand the fluid dynamics of the hot water system; we just want to know that if we turn that lever we will get hot water out of the tap!

Culture Clash in the USA

New Zealand is made up of people from all over the world. So we think we are pretty good at understanding other cultures and adapting our style accordingly, right? Well, not really no - especially when it comes to the much sought after market of the USA.

Kiwis that were born here and kiwis that have adopted NZ as home in more recent years tend to be fairly reserved folks. You might describe most kiwis as quiet, unassuming, down to earth, low key and humble sort of people. We don't blow our own trumpets, we don't strut about telling everybody that we are better and greater and far superior to others. People that try that on will get ignored and have no friends. We don't hype up the message in our sales and marketing either.

And for the NZ market, that is a good thing. Loud, brash, hyped up marketing makes us cringe and run away, fast! But if you are going after the USA as a target market, think again! You will need help to adapt your marketing style to suit overseas markets. Or you will fail.

Scatter Gun

The trouble with some clever products is that they have might be useful in several different markets. Opportunities and potential customers seem to be everywhere. There is danger lurking in those possibilities.

A common failure, one I see in just about every tech company I have ever dealt with, is what I call the Scatter Gun approach. It is so tempting to go after all the opportunities at once. It is scary to even think about ignoring a potential market sector. But if you target too many possibilities at once, you will fail. Attacking the market on several fronts at once is expensive, time consuming, energy sapping and simply not effective. You will confuse potential customers who are trying to work out what you are really good at. You will exhaust your resources and fail to gain traction in any one area.

If this is you, get help now before your company goes down the drain.

What next?

Look out for the next TechBlog entry on Why Tech Companies Fail: Feast or Famine.

Success With Grace is home of the TechBiz Success Academy, coaching and training to help technology based businesses grow. For information about TechBiz programs go to Also check out Business Communication and Customer Support Communication workshops in


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