Middlesbrough-based Profile Analysis looked at exporting to South Africa nearly five years ago, as part of a strategy of seeking markets in English-speaking countries. The business has developed a field sales management app and reporting system.
Chief executive Alan Timothy explains: “When a field salesperson has done a visit it lets him record that visit in a minute or less. Rather than having to come back and log onto a CRM system, this lets them do it in the field. That can link to a CRM system and it automatically generates information and reports for both the sales person and the sales manager.’’
The seven-year-old business’s clients include blue-chip names such as Jewson, Nestle and Snap-on-Tools. It has 10 employees.
In targeting South Africa Profile Analysis used the help of UKTI’s OMIS – overseas market introduction service. “Their OMIS scheme is very flexible and we have used it two or three times,’’ says Timothy.
“Typically with an Omis you are encouraged to get market research but what we bought was a launch in the embassy. The invitations come from the High Commissioner, so people tend to come, like the managing director of Nestle South Africa. When he got the invitation from the High Commissioner he accepted and was very keen to attend.’’
He adds: “We used UKTI to do a launch down there to identify a distributor and to get some interest from potential clients. We achieved both of those aims. Since then we have continued to grow and serve the South African market.’’
The company now does about £70,000 worth of business in South Africa every year. As the product is licenced software IP, that is all profit. The distributor is based in Johannesburg and, although there are some clients in Cape Town, most of the focus is in the Johannesburg area.
“South Africa is a great place to do business,’’ says Timothy. “The people there are very receptive to British technology. I look forward to going down to see the distributors. The people are really nice, you always get a good hearing when you go down.
They are less impressed by the big company approach. In Europe the attitude is `Oh, you’re not salesforce.com or you’re not Microsoft’. In South Africa they are much more inclined to take you as you are.’’
Success in South Africa has encouraged the company to sell into other markets, such as the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Jordan, India, Germany and France. “We have progressed since we have been to South Africa so we now do a lot in the Middle East, because in most of the Middle East English is spoken,’’ says Timothy.
“The product has come on a lot and our understanding of the export market has come on a lot.’’
“We made the decision always to price in local currency. Across the euro, the dollar and the rand – usually one is up, one is down. We came to the conclusion we were not going to do very much business if every time the currency changed our price changed. Now 35% of Profile Analysis’ turnover is export and that proportion is growing. Timothy says: “Of all the support agencies we deal with UKTI are by far the most positive, the most supportive and the most helpful.”