How Europeans perceive Australian manufacturers and what to do about it!
I often get the question from Australian companies: how are we perceived by European customers as Australians. On the surface, Europeans first think of Australia as a nice holiday destination. Then often what comes second is that one of his or her nephew, daughter or granddaughter is currently in Australia on a working holiday visa!!!
So business wise, it does not help you to sell your product except that often Europeans will have a very positive first impression about Australians.
But to be honest with you, when we position our customers in the European market, we definitely don’t play that note.
When launching an Australian product in the European market, we have a few challenges to tackle. Let me share with you, the perception of Europeans about Australian businesses and the issues it creates for my team and me and how we overcome them.
“Australia is far!” is the common perception, what Australians often call the tyranny of distance.
This perception has many implications for a European distributor or a manufacturer wanting to buy your product or even your software.
Let me picture for you several very common concerns that are often in the mind of your European buyers.
The first logical one is that the lead time of an Australian-based business is going to be long. This one is pretty straightforward. Unless you are shipping by boat, the transport time by air from Australia to Europe is a no brainer. It takes seven to ten days by air. I am aware that getting goods shipped by road from one European country to another may sometimes take the same amount of time. Especially if your European competitors are large multinationals, you would be surprised about the inefficiencies in these businesses. So you have strong chances to actually provide better lead times from Australia than your competitors do.
On the other hand if you ship by sea, I realise that it may take longer from Sydney than Shanghai to Rotterdam. However, typically the types of goods that our customers ship by sea are large capital items. These are often very advanced, IP intensive products. And I can tell you right now, that the major barrier to a deal is never whether the shipping time is going to be one month more or less. If a customer is bugged down by the delivery time, there is something else behind it. It’s not the real reason. We can always improve lead with good planning and forecasting.
And the reality is that as a small business, you are probably in a very good position to be agile and provide a much better logistic services than most large multinational companies.
Another common concern expressed to us by European customers when we sell Australian technology to them is how they are going to get technical support.That’s a major one.
Once they buy the product who is going to support them if there’s an issue? That is valid for cloud-based solutions or any technical product. If you are competing with larger businesses or with local European companies, be sure that they are going to push this argument against you.
So prepare for it. There are many ways to provide technical support. If your strategy is to work with local distribution, you can work with your current or look for a partner that has the capability to provide technical support. If you take the example of the Information Technology industry this is how usually support is structured. A local partner will provide the first line support to troubleshoot the most simple issues. And then an expert at the Headquarter can troubleshoot more complicated issues. In some instances, some of our customers even get the European customers to fill in online forms to describe the issues and then get it processed. Whatever the process is, have it outlined as a plan to be able to be ready to respond to this concern.
You can also beat this impression of distance, as an Australian business by having a more diverse workforce. Australia is so diverse, you can easily have in your team several Europeans who speak the language of your customers. That will instantly bridge the gap.
At Exportia, we also are strong advocates of getting translations of key documents done. You don’t need your entire website in multiple languages. However, you can offer multilingual videos and documents for your European customers to feel close to you even if most of your team is based in Australia.
The other common perception is simply a lack of perception! Europeans know very little about the Australian economy. However, when we start to showcase our customers with some of their Australian case studies it does carry some weight. The Australian technology companies we work with often have great credentials in the mining industry. This is something that can be easily used to showcase a technology to the European construction, and metal industry for example. We have done that in the past and that has opened the door for us by creating sufficient credentials for the Australian company.
I often als mention the fact that the Australian medical technology sector has a great reputation in Europe. And often if you mention Resmed, Cochlear, these will be known names. The Australian healthcare sector is also renowned as highly sophisticated. So if you are playing in this industry, you can definitely rely on your Australian credentials and benefit from the awareness created by these Australian brands.
For more information on bridging the gap and successfully launching your product in Europe, get in touch with us today on www.exportia.com.au
Do our Export Readiness Diagnostic if you want to check if your business is ready to export to Europe do the test: https://diagnostic.exportia.com.au/7pillar/
Christelle turned her back to a successful career as a sales representative in the corporate world in Europe. When she moved to Australia in 2006, she started Exportia to share the wealth of her Europe-wide sales experiences for a small business as an export manager and as a sales representative at IBM in Paris.
“Having taken dozens of Australian businesses to Europe, I personally know the difficulty for a small business to significantly grow their sales in the European market. It is a very diverse market and small businesses often don’t know where to start. Small business owners are often caught up with running their business and with their domestic market to be able to allocate enough time to the European market. Lowering the risk for small businesses and guiding them to maximise the export sales results are what drives us at Exportia.”
Christelle has also encapsulated her learning into a book called “Ready Tech Go! – A definitive guide to exporting Australian technology to Europe”. French native speaker, fluent in German and English, with Basic Italian and Hindi.