Over the course of the last two weeks we have met dozens of founders looking to build the next big thing. In structured sessions, networking and informal chats we have had the opportunity to listen, learn and test our ideas for market entry into the States. We have heard multiple stories of success and failure. Distilling this to identify the common threads is not easy as there are no universal capital “T” truths for success in the US and every founder’s story is different. But there are lower case “t” truths relevant to setting yourself up for success in the States.
FOMO – it’s not just for consumers it’s a thing in enterprise sales too. Small, agile, innovative companies will get a meeting with an enterprise sales prospect because they don’t want to miss the next big thing. This is because it’s a very competitive market and no-one wants to miss an opportunity to get a leap on their competitors or gain market share. So being able to articulate your value proposition in terms of creating an unfair competitive advantage is a must if you want to harness the competitive spirit.
Work your accent. As one speaker put it “Australia is flavour of the month in the US at the moment.” For those first sales calls: an Australian founder making the call being front and centre will give you a point of difference. You need to back this up with substance but being Australian can help get the meeting.
Be here. Your business success may all currently be in Australia but if this is where you see the future of your business then this is where you must be. The enterprise businesses you are selling to here will want to deal with senior people. This means the CEO, CTO and or executive director. If they don’t see you here they won’t believe you are serious about their business. And the key to sales here is all network. It is very hard to build a strong network and deep relationships from Australia when your direct competitor is across the street.
Develop partnerships. A good sales channel partner will immediately accelerate your time to market. They have what you don’t. Relationships, customers, credibility and distribution. The right partner will deliver revenue quicker with less risk. Contrast this with doing it all on your own, with no in-market experience and no on the ground resources.
Be prepared in sales meetings. It seems obvious but how often do you go to a meeting in Australia without doing some research (Google, LinkedIn and social media feeds), without an agenda and no pre-prepared questions. You won’t get a second meeting if you don’t show you know the client, their issues and how you can help them to be successful. And be prepared to give more than you get – you need to invest in them personally if you want them to buy from you. This adds credibility, builds a relationship and makes you a partner.
Finally hire with care. In Australia we are broadly used to a degree of staff loyalty. Here in the US staff are employed “at will” which means as the employer you can hire one-day and fire the next. In turn you will find that good talent and people will move at the drop of a hat to a bigger and better opportunity. Employee loyalty is not the norm. So you need to invest time and effort to find good talent. And carefully check resumes. It is also normal to do police and criminal checks when hiring here – your enterprise customers will expect it and some will even demand drug tests too.
These are just some of the key themes we have consistently heard over the last two weeks. Enterprise sales and being an entrepreneur is hard work and following these points will hopefully help to maximise your success on both fronts.
9.30am - 10.30am: Interactive Discussion | Building a NY startup as an Australian Founder. Led by Tania Yuki, Founder & CEO Shareablee
12pm - 1.00pm: Q&A | Led by Simon Hil, Managing Partner, Hoist Strategic
6.00pm: Special Reception with Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey