Irish tech start-ups lack basic sales and marketing skills

29 May 2012

Irish tech execs punch above their weight in building and scaling global internet companies but fail miserably at sales and marketing, new research suggests.

New research from Select Strategies and Turley Communications reveals new high-growth start-ups are focused on running small and fast experiments to test early market interest before spending time in development.

The report was based on findings from more than 50 Irish tech companies and research was carried out via an online survey and in-depth face-face interviews.

Market validation has shifted from an academic exercise to fully tested commitment to buy before any significant investment in sales resources.

Metrics are the law of the land with each stage in the sales and retention cycle transparent and measurable.

However, poor marketing messages block buyers self-serving as marketers struggle to clearly communicate easily consumable value propositions.

The ratio of “feet still on the street” is out of balance with the channels to market.

Finding the holy grail

“There is real progress being made by Irish tech companies in how they are adopting new business approaches to help them grow faster,” said Colm Lyon, CEO of Realex Payments and founder of Internet Growth Alliance (IGA).

“We are seeing companies testing, validating and measuring repeatedly until they find the right product/market fit – the holy grail of building a successful company. Enterprise Ireland’s iGAP programme continues to fuel this.

“But there is evidence that we need to get smarter in the sales and marketing arena, which is important for global success,” Lyon said.

Jennifer Condon, divisional manager in charge of Internationally Traded Services & Software at Enterprise Ireland, said these trends reflect what the agency is seeing in its base of software and services companies.

“In particular, we see the need for companies to have a strong focus on sales and marketing, including how to build a repeatable cost-efficient way of acquiring and retaining customers,” Condon said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years