Many companies have expressed an interest to me, to expand into the US marketplace. In this update of my Blog, I will review some if the factors that are keys to successfully entering and growing in the United State. I want to point out that my experience is in the industrial sector, which is the focus of this Blog. Even though these ideas may be applicable to a consumer product company, I will focus on growth of companies that target other companies.
The United States is not Europe.
We do some things differently here in the US compared to other countries. One fundamental difference is that in the US, business is conducted using credit. A product is purchased by a company using agreed payment terms. For example, when a distributor purchases a product from a manufacturer, the distributor pays for the product 30 days later. Most companies do not pay at the time of order for inventory, or pay but wire transfer which are common with European customers.
A second difference is that our standard size of literature is 8 ½ inches by 11 inches, and not the European format of A4. People here do not know what to do with a piece of literature that is A4 size. Since this size does not fit into a file drawer, people do not know where to store the literature. What is the message that a non US company is trying to give to an American potential customer? By using A4 sized literature, the message is that the manufacture does not care about the American customer. This is not a good place to way to build new relationships.
The United States is really big!
Even though the US is one big county, we can look at it like a lot of smaller countries. Each state or region has a different culture. To develop and grow business here in the US, you must be aware of this uniqueness, and work with the local culture. Again companies should not try to force a sales plan that works in New England onto a distributor in Arkansas. You need to find out his local needs, and the needs of his local customers in order for the plan to be successful.
People grow business, not web sites.
Web sites, blogs, social networks, and Twitter, are all tools to connect people with other people. It is the person that is looking into your eyes, and shakes your hand that makes a decision for his or her company. To grow a company you must get a message across to that person.
Are you able to present your company’s product or service and answers these questions:
Does your product or service have a value to the person sitting across from you?
Does your product save them money compared to their other chooses?
Can you improve their life? Will selecting your product or service, give this person more free time?
Does the customer know the local sales person?
Does the customer know your company?
By presenting your company in a way that addresses these questions, you are relating to the needs of that local customer, rather then shouting at him the features of your product.
Business is grown one person at a time.
If you are not helping someone do something, then what is the goal of your company? I highly recommend Jeffrey Gitomer’s books including his “Little Red Book of Selling”. Look on page 7 for the reason “Why People Buy”. Please post your comments if you have read this book to share with the other Blog readers.
I have a wonderful product or service. Will you sell it in America?
I receive about three emails every day from very nice people around the world that ask me this question. I always answer them back the same way, by asking them if their company is ready, and if they have the funding to expand into the US.
Sales of products or services do not just happen, in the industrial or business to business sector. Companies must invest in their future by advertising, marketing, setting up and then training field sales people. I have looked at the sales of many companies over my career. I have tracked the results of specific activities to the overall sales of the company looking for success factors. One great example was the sales agent training programs I presented annually for one of my clients. Within 30 days of every training class I would see a spike in the monthly sales. There was always one sales person who attended my class, and then used the sales tools I taught him to close a new major account. Since ending my training classes, sales at this former client have fallen off dramatically.
The economy in many sectors is not doing very well. In my opinion we all need to increase our level of investment, and activity to get things moving again. I welcome your comments and would be glad to help you in any way.