Understanding US Business Culture
While the American’s & the British may appear similar in language & culture, the two nations are actually quite different. Understanding the idiosyncrasies between the two will ensure you’re better equipped to enter the market, negotiate deals & develop long-term business relationships.
Building Relationships – Americans often build relationships through business, not business through relationships. Work out the details of the deal first, the relationships will come later
Active Selling – Expected, often to a degree that maybe considered excessive in the UK & definitely in mainland EU
Time is Money – Be well prepared with samples, packaging & sales sheets. Know your ROI, sales forecasts, pricing & the logistics.
Deadlines – Are Real & Short! Respond quickly or risk losing the business
Know Your Competition – Know your competitive advantage over specific US suppliers, as well as your domestic & international track record.
Say What You Mean – Being direct is a virtue; Ask for what you want, say what you mean & do what you say. Being shy & unassertive may be seen as weakness in the US. Americans won’t take offence to well-phrased, direct questions because the ALWAYS reserve the right to say no.
Be Positive – The British tendency to be self-effacing or downplay achievements can CLASH with Americans’ Can-Do Attitude & tendency to take information at face value.
Follow Up is Key – Effective follow-up is essential & often involves persistent & repetitive attempts to make contact. If you have called or emailed someone 2-3 times & haven’t heard back, don’t assume they are disinterested. Instead, remember that persistence is expected in the US; it may take you as many as 10-12 attempts to get a response, whether positive or negative.
Business Etiquette – Conduct in the US is generally conservative, polite & succinct; it is important to clarify benefits for the prospective customer.
Articulate Your Competitive Advantage – One of the keys to success is not being large but having a strong product or service offering & being able to clearly articulate your competitive advantage.
US Buyers Time Poor – Bombarded with marketing collateral & sales pitches from hundreds of companies. As a result, it is extremely difficult to get their attention. Success in the United States is often based on persistence. It is not uncommon for a buyer to need to hear your message numerous times before they can differentiate it from all the others.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Noticed – by keeping the message concise & diversifying the channels you use to deliver it, such as email, phone, publications, third parties & personal visits.
Americans are Creators of 30-Second Sales Pitch – Whether you like or loathe the idea, the level of marketing noise bombarding buyers & the no. of competitors makes it a necessity. You need to be sure you can move a US buyer from passive disinterest to curious engagement as quickly & effectively as possible – ideally in 30-60 seconds!