The US market offers great opportunities for the sale of a start-up’s products, but the American dream can become a nightmare without adequate planning. In order to succeed, the international development of your product or service has to be well thought out. The five factors below provide guidance on building a strong sales team in the US.
- Timing and Preparation - International expansion should be thoroughly prepared beforehand, including the recruitment process, marketing and budgeting. The right time to develop internationally is not the same for all start-ups, but the need for a product or service ready to be commercialised and the financial ability to expand is universal.
- Recruitment - Finding a good fit is essential. There are several different approaches:
- Directly recruiting a local team. The US job market is extremely mobile and candidates are typically well prepared for their interviews and persuasive. After recruitment, integration is key – the time difference coupled with lack of knowledge of your business goals and culture can leave a new recruit isolated and unconnected to the UK base.
- Have your UK Commercial Director lead US sales. This strategy often succeeds, but can be expensive, involves lead time if a visa is required and a UK expatriate may not know the market or have the network to reach US clients.
- A lower risk initial solution may be a strategic alliance in the US market with a partner who will take care of the US launch and commercialisation of your products or services.
- Cultural differences
- US employees work “at will,” meaning that an employee may be fired without cause (except for illegal reasons) or advance notice, and may leave in the same way.
- US business vocabulary should be used in well prepared collateral materials, catalogues and flyers, along with an accessible and professional “US-facing” website.
- “Americanise” your terms and conditions to reflect local laws and negotiate US sales on such terms.
- When evaluating your sales team’s progression initially, consider taking into account other non-financial elements, like prospects and opportunities or activity on the CRM platform, to recognise the number of contracts signed with clients and the activity of your sales team.
- Office not required - Physical offices are not a priority to set up your sales department in the US. Rent for offices is expensive, and home-based working is common for sales team members.
- An extensive network is essential. A main target of that network should be major clients, leaders or influencers of their industry, who will drive other clients when they adopt your product or service.
- A CRM platform should be used to help manage marketing and sales departments progress a lead into an opportunity and then customer.
Plan ahead to be prepared. Experienced advisors can help you and we have substantial experience in guiding businesses through the process of setting up new operations in the US.
We are hosting a series of events focussing on sales in the upcoming months. These will explore the playbook for SMEs to develop a successful sales strategy, with events focussing on development and growth of early stage sales, developing an international sales strategy and investors’ views and approaches to businesses’ sales processes and strategy.
The first will take place on the 10th October and will include guest speaker Steve Chambers from Cloudsoft focusing on enterprise and SaaS sales. Further dates in November and January to be confirmed. If you would like further information on these seminars please contact Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partner, Corporate (US & UK)
Tel: 0131 226 8232