New Zealanders treat salespeople like dogs - Chanui tea guy Doug Hastie

As a New Zealander who has spent time in the US, at Yale then on Wall Street selling equities for Goldman Sachs, Doug Hastie admires the way salespeople are respected, and well rewarded in North America.

“But in New Zealand, sales is a dirty word,” says Mr Hastie - best known for fronting TV ads for his Chanui tea venture, but also now trying to turn around $29 million tech basket case Syft.

New Zealand companies were often great at engineering products, but poor at selling them to the rest of the world, he says.

People talk about education or tax reform to jump-start the New Zealand economy, Mr Hastie said. “But we need to put more emphasis on selling things.” The discipline needed more respect.

“As a New Zealander, I feel ashamed of it. We’ve got to recognise that doesn’t matter how good a product is unless it’s sold,” he says.

Once he’s through tightening up Syft’s day-to-day operation, Mr Hastie will be jumping into the sales frontline himself.

He sees the container industry, customs agencies and air pollution monitoring initiatives in Asia and Europe as key growth areas.

Mr Hastie has an agenda. He would like it if you bought Syft’s private equity shares, which trade on the Unlisted exchange.

If, as he says, Syft can be turned around with slick sales pitch, then its gift-of-the-gab CEO has a shot.

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