Can you sell like an American?

Many Europeans think that common language means understanding, thereby skipping clarifications and confirmations. Until a contract is signed, it is unwise to assume agreement.

Communication

American culture is direct and emotionally expressive. Even if you’ve spoken English your whole life, its style might not come naturally. To close deals, you need to say what you want and what you offer learly and persuasively.

Conversations will involve less small talk than might be your custom; instead, many Americans “cut to the chase” in a way that can appear cold to Europeans.

Americans are not used to the European custom of self-deprecation; instead, Americans value projecting confidence and self-promotion. Direct feedback (which can feel harsh to a European) is much more common and should not be cause for alarm.

Going native

Localization is a key part of your US market entry. More than the language, it speaks to the message:

The arguments and phrasing that resonate with your American audience. This message might be very dissimilar in content and style to your European pitch, so make sure you have local input from trusted and seasoned partners in developing that content. Contracts, currency, marketing collateral, customer service – all require revisions. Small slips – such as date formats (M/D/Y vs. D/M/Y) can cause miscommunication.

Meetings

Americans are inherently more forward. The US approach to business networking is quite different to Europe: it is quicker and more transactional. Americans have shorter meetings than Europeans: 30  minutes is a common standard.

Regional differences in the US can play a significant role in business demeanor. A meeting that seemed cold in New York might yield a contract on the same day, while a warm and enthusiastic reception in Los Angeles might only be a measure of politeness and hospitality, not of real business interest.

Web demos

If you’re doing enterprise sales in Europe, you’ll likely be expected to attend a meeting in person. In the US, it is not uncommon to sell over web demo or video call, given the country’s geographic scale. In large and complex deals, some face-to-face meetings will still be required but the relationship can be developed and nurtured remotely.