Category Archives: strategy

When the US-market is not for you

The US-market is HUGE. 

skyline-buildings-new-york-skyscrapersWith nearly 300 million consumers, the United States is one of the largest markets in the world. When a company has access to the U.S. market and these 300 million people, it can take advantage of economies of scale.The wealth of the U.S. economy. Although the United States contains only four percent of the world’s population, it accounts for nearly 25 percent of global economic output. The combined effects of being one of the richest countries in the world and one of the largest in terms of

The wealth of the U.S. economy. Although the United States contains only four percent of the world’s population, it accounts for nearly 25 percent of global economic output.

But, it’s also the most competitive market in the world.

We want to advise our clients to do what is best for the business, not just the USA and our engagement. We don’t want to “sell”, no, instead our job is really to try to disqualify prospects to make sure they have the attitude that is required to be successful here.

More often than not we suggest our clients reconsider the US-market.

Here are the reasons why you may want to prioritize other markets, including your home market, over the USA:

  • You are pressured to deliver short-term wins. The US-market is a marathon and it will take you a minimum of 18-36 months to show significant traction. If you survive the upside is enormous, however.
  • You’ve far from saturated your market share in your home market where customer acquisition cost is a lot lower. We would not advise you to enter the USA until you’ve filled a reasonable position in your home market. Why not: Why not capture the lowest hanging fruit? Furthermore: Cash-flow is critical to funding the US-operation.  (please note that the state of your home market may force you to consider the USA…reference to Brazil).
  • The product is not able to translate well. Let’s take the example of a local service business which supports needs not required in the USA. Forget about “building a market” in the USA. Success is about fulfilling demand vs. creating demand.
  • You want a cushy lifestyle. Imagine you’ve slaved for 15 years to build a reasonable business. You like Florida for its beaches, but you’re not interested in being 24/7 for another 5-7 years. Don’t enter the USA.

The US-market is an opportunity that is typically bigger and more attractive than any other endeavor of yours, however, it’s not for everyone and timing is critical.

To discuss if the US-market is for you please contact us at hello@katapultgroup.com or via +1.844.528.2785. 

 

How to find the RIGHT US-reseller

Yesterday I spoke to a regional economic development association whose mission it is to help their local companies expand internationally. When asked what the typical company’s biggest challenge was with regards to internationalization to far away markets the answer was clear:

By far the biggest challenge for our companies is to find the right distribution partner

What was specifically meant was finding a partner who is able to actually sell product on a consistent basis, at a level satisfactory to market demand and within a reasonabletime frame. 

This challenge certainly resonated with me (although I don’t necessarily buy into the distribution model as the default for US-market entry. More about this below). 

I’ve personally experienced multiple failed attempts to engage what companies from Europe or Latin-America considered relevant partners. Most attempts failed at the early stages, some were consummated but never generated any significant revenue.  

Why it is so extremely hard and time-consuming to find the right partner and what can you do about it?

It used to be a mystery to me also. I do believe I’ve cracked the code however, here is my advice:

Finding and engaging the right US-distribution partner is like hiring a top-performing sales-executive

  • A top-performing sales-executive is highly motivated by financial incentives. Can you show him how he will make money? Attracting a strong sales-executive requires you to have a well constructed sales playbook gjat is proven to generate revenue. Most sales people would prefer not having to invent this, i.e, take the risk, they want to walk in, execute, and start seeing revenue (so they can make money). Your distributor is a business just like yours. They are here to make money. They don’t have cash-flow nor is the leadership supportive of “experimenting” for you. Experiments burn money. They want a clear recipe that is proven to work. 
  • Is your comp plan attractive to engage a true top performer? Forget about attracting a sales-person that’s used to selling million dollar enterprise deals if your average deal-size is USD5,000. Why? No way is he going to be able to take home the same kind of money. Is your distributor a billion dollar entity with a sales team carrying quotas in the millions of dollars per month? We recently worked with a small software manufacturer whose problem was exactly this dynamic: their chosen reseller had to generate millions of dollars of revenue per month; our clients average deal size was less than 10,000 and did not require much installation or support. Why do you think the reseller relationship never produced any results? 
  • How will you compensate him for the time it takes to generate his first sales. Do you have a pipeline in place for him to work? What are your plans for your distributor?
  • Do you know who your perfect customers are, what value proposition they are buying and how you are different than your competition? This is part of a good playbook. Don’t expect your reseller to tell you this.  They probably carry at least 5 other products, typically more, and don’t have bandwidth to consider this. 
  • Do you carry a recognized brand. Aside from making it easier to sell your brand, or lack thereof, provides prestige and identity. Most sales people value this element. Branding matters just as much to your re-seller, even if you do OEM. It is a sign of quality and trust.  
  • Are you able to give him an attractive title and ensure him of “power” and impact. While a playbook is what he wants to start with he is likely interested in improving it. Your distributor wants to be listened to for product and service input. They want this to be considered for the roadmap. 
  • Have you clearly defined a territory plan? Your sales person wants to know the total addressable market and will be calculating his expected sales and what type of compensation he will take home. How important do you think it is for your distributor to know what their territory is?
  • Your sales-executive wants to know that you have a well oiled marketing machine behind him to push leads into the top part of the funnel and marketing activities that make it easier to move deals through to close. Research shows that CTO’s today are 61% of the way through the buying process before they engage a sales person. Now: How important do you think marketing is?
  • You need to make sure your compensation plan is structured so that  your sales-executive is correctly incentivized. Incentive-structure is the strongest correlation to performance. What kind of behavior are you incentivizing for your distributor?
  • Have you clearly defined what success looks like and do you have data to back it up? KPI’s, key-activities and a budget for your sales person is required to de-risk performance issues. How are you de-risking the distributor relationship. 
  • As part of the performance metrics, have you clearly defined the consequences? What is your way out if the distributor does not live up to expectations?
  • Do you have a clear  feedback loop and monitoring process set-up? As part of a good sales playbook is a feedback loop to ensure that your sales people perform and that market input is looped back into the organization. For your distributors you need to have a similar process in place.  
  • A top performing sales-executive will look to your CEO for a strong and clearly articulated vision for how your company will win in the market place. What long term vision do you have. A top-performer will want to see proof that it’s not all talk but you’re also executing. And most importantly your sales-person will want to buy in and be aligned. They must believe. Alignment and a shared vision is crucial in regard to a strong distributor relationship. 
  • There must be a good personal and culture fit. You must respect one another. What type of reseller culture is a good fit for you?

It’s been my personal experience that creating results through a channel strategy is similar to what it takes to driving performance through your own sales force.  

Perhaps considering your channel activities through this lens will help you improve performance.  I hope so. 

As always I’d welcome any feedback. Please contact me via: hello@KatapultGroup.com

How starting up in the USA is like starting your company all over again

If you are reading this you are likely an established company wanting to expand growth. You’re looking to the USA to explode growth. You want to put some eggs in the largest basket there is: The US-market.

If you’re considering the USA then consider this: It will be like when you started your business.
– You’ll need to understand who your perfect customer is
– You’ll want to understand what to sell to them
– You’ll want to know how they buy
– You’ll want to understand how to market, distribute, install and support your customers
– You’ll want to understand how to collect payment
– You’ll want to understand your competition, including “doing like  we’ve always done it”
– You’ll want to understand what you must do in the USA and at home to start building your business. Do you know what is the most important thing right to do right now?
– You’ll want to understand what type of price to charge
– You’ll want to understand how your cost structure looks like

I expect you will be surprised. Your business model will likely be different for you to succeed here.

If you want to apply Lean Business Building, then here is our advice:
1. Find out what is the most critical aspect required for you to be successful. Example: Do Americans even consume my product?
2. Focus on learning about this aspect at the lowest and fastest way possible.
3. Decide what to do next based on your learning.

Good luck!

Click here to send us an email if you want to discuss exploring the US-market:

Lean Internationalization – how to enter new markets with less financial risk

A guaranteed winning strategy for selling more and achieving success in the USA?

When you’re starting up in the USA, figuring out how to maneuvre on a day to basis and what strategies to pursue long term can be very challenging. There’s a lot of moving parts. This is why @KatapultGroup’s entire methodology, we call it Lean Business Building, is centered around focusing intently on the customer and engaging them in everything that is done, short as well as long term. We want to find out what customers want so we can help our international clients sell in the USA, and frankly, discovering and filling demand is what it’s all about.
However, even if you pursue this strategy you’ll never be able to interview ALL of the potential customers. And what about the potential customers currently not being served. And even then, how do you prioritize your roadmap, where do you put your focus? It’s not easy to achieve success in the USA! 

One way of thinking does present you with a silver bullet for stacking the deck in your favor: Focus on the fundamental truths and the things that will never change in your business. 

Customers in the USA will always want better, cheaper, faster, more convenient. Those elements will never change. 

There are fundamental truths that are specific to your business. In helping software firms sell more in the USA, we might suggest our clients focus on:
– Making the software easier to use
– Making the software easier to install and configure to get up and running
– Limiting the number of steps and the number of people needed to configure the software
– Making the full solution easier to obtain and implement. For example: If you sell software but it requires hardware, you might provide customers with a full package that includes both up front
– Lowering the investment it takes to buy and use the software
– Making your solution run faster
– etc. 

We help foreign based technology companies with everything related to selling more and growing in the USA, and supporting them with strategy, roadmap, UX, and ofcourse sales. Even though there are lots of factors involved in achieving success in the USA, it helps to consider the fundamental truths next time a choice is to be made. 

What are the fundamental truths for your business? How can you implement this line of thinking to accelerate your sales and achieve success in the USA?

Sustainability as a competitive advantage

One of the things we preach to our international clients is that the American market is all about dollars and cents. your offering has to have a clear and easy to understand path to the bottom line for it to be successful in being sold in the USA. While this is very much still the case it is worth mentioning that other less tangible elements also can play a role. 

Recently, when responding to an RFP for one of our portfolio clients I paused and did a double-take when setting the question:

What sustainability efforts does your company have in place?

I paused simply because I rarely see such question when selling b2b software products and it had been seldom that I’ve found it specified in an RFP. 

I am unsure if there is a growing trend amongst the large US firms to demand their vendors be more oriented to sustainability although it might well be the case considering the growing demand with end-users. 

No matter, I want to encourage our international clients, particularly our European clientele, to consider making this element more visible in their communications. It’s likely a strong point and certainly will not hurt the chances of winning deals. 

What do you think? Are you seeing more companies in the USA demand a higher degree of sustainability?