10 Things You Need TO KNOW Before Taking Your Business To America – PART 1 of 2

  1. “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” This comes from the movie The Wizard of Oz and simply means you’re not home anymore, you’re in a strange land, far away from anything you’ve ever known before.
  2. Americans are very direct. We hate wasting time, especially if it’s business. Sure, there are always situations where a little bit of “getting to you know talk” is good but within a few minutes one dives right in.
  3. Americans are being sold to thousands of times a day – on TV (TV shows in America have commercials every 15-20 minutes), on the radio, in magazines, everywhere. They’re used to someone selling them something. That means they’re used to making a quick evaluation too. So, when selling to Americans, start with the end. Tell them what the problem is that you solve, explain your solution, and tell them the benefits. Do this briefly! And, then you can go into more detail. But, please DO NOT start with the details and if you hear the words “Get to the point” then you’d better jump to the conclusion immediately.
  4. Americans don’t care about your country, race, religion, or other attributes about you. They don’t even care if you have an accent. All they want to know is: how can we make money together. If you can’t answer that question, then you should never have left Kansas. In short, it’s all about the Benjamin’s baby – ‘cause the face of Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 bill.
  5. Americans like innovation. They like progress. They instinctively know that if they don’t innovate their competition will and their business will suffer. So, show them the benefit you bring them.
  6. It has become harder to get to the right executive to sell to. Getting in front of them to sell them your product is key – so you need to figure that out quickly. And, once you’re in front for them remember that they are being sold to ALL THE TIME, even in business, so remember that time is money and their time is precious. If they let you in, you had better have something good to offer them or else it will be a very short meeting. Finding and connecting with the decision-maker is very hard work. It’s all about networking whether in person or at a trade show or online so you need to make sure your networking skills are as sharp as they can be.
  7. “We don’t care about no stinkin’ badges”. You’ll need to see the movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to fully appreciate this line but in short, it means that Americans have a certain level of disrespect for authority, for rules, for precedent – you might even say for history. So, expect that and make it work to your advantage. Of course, some industries (e.g. banking) and regions are more conservative but even that is changing. But, don’t confuse breaking the rules with NOT following company policy or legal norms. Americans will follow those rules.
  8. Americans work really hard. They work long hours, staying late to finish a project is considered normal, as is going into the office on the weekend if needed and vacations are not the goal of work, rather the goal of work is advancement and more success – plus most Americans only get two weeks of vacation per year. There are some regional differences to attitude towards vacations; but when there’s a need to get something done those regional differences disappear. OK, so they work hard, so what? Well, they expect you to also. And, for you to be available all the time to answer their questions or to help them with a problem if they are your customer. So, you and your team need to be prepared.
  9. Americans love comfort. Make things easy for them. Give them a one-page summary of the pros and cons and benefits of your product or service. Give them hours when they can easily reach you even if you live on the other side of the planet. Be available when they are doing business (or at least try to be mostly available). And answer your phone and email on the weekend. It’s OK to take Sunday off.
  10. Do not talk about sex, money, politics or religion. Talk about sports (know the local team). And if they say something “funny” about your country, just shrug it off. Don’t say something “funny” about America – that’s not considered funny.

So go ahead and click your heels three times – it’s one of the most famous lines from that classic American film The Wizard of Oz –  and say “There’s no place like home and you’ll be there”. Because America can truly be a magical place where fortune and perhaps fame can be yours but you’ve got to try!

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