Serving up success in the US – What Australian companies need to know before launching

Imagine you’re a chef – expertly skilled in the creation of Korean cuisine, for instance. You’ve mastered kimchi and bibimbap but what would happen if you tried to make a traditional Peruvian meal? You might be able to follow the steps and pull something together but chances are, it wouldn’t be quite the same quality as someone specifically trained in making lomo saltado.

I raise this example because I see many business leaders make a similar mistake. Not in the kitchen but in their organisations at some of their most critical juncture points. They mistakenly believe that being an expert in business development in Australia means they’re going to see the same growth and success in the US. And unfortunately, that’s not often the case.

We recently announced the launch of Growth Avenue, which is designed to give established Australian businesses access to the ‘on the ground’ business development support needed to gain real traction in the US. But I wanted to talk more about why this program is needed.

There are many differences between operating a successful sales function in Australia and in the US and it’s critical that business leaders understand these factors before planning their global expansion.

As an Australian who lived and worked in New York City and has spent a total of 12 years in being immersed in that market, I can attest to the fact that there are significant differences in business practices, language and culture – despite the fact that our countries may seem similar on the surface. One small example is that emails, pitches and presentations in Australian business environments are typically seen as verbose to Americans. The general rule is to only ask for one thing in an email, and in presentations focus on results and what will be achieved in the US for the prospect.

But the US isn’t just one city or region – there are 50 states and each one offers Australian businesses unique opportunities and challenges. Success, therefore, requires strong relationships and collaboration, with networks that are built slowly over time. The problem is that Australian companies often want success quickly. With this mindset, expectations can be incredibly high and at times, unrealistic. Of course, there are some companies that might win deals quickly, but it is important to have a mid to long term sales strategy, especially for industries with slower sales cycles, such as financial services. Even if your strategy has already been proven in Australia, it still should be tested locally and, if necessary, revised.

Equally important is to be realistic about the commitment your organisation is able to make on the ground in the US. A ‘fly in fly out’ approach can often be a company’s downfall. US customers prefer to interact with partners who are on the ground and Australian businesses must consider what an ongoing commitment to the market looks like and whether they have the flexibility and capital to execute. This is a core benefit of the Growth Avenue program as it matches Australian businesses with a US-based, Interim Business Development expert (IBDs).

Tapping into an established network in the US can be a game-changer for Australian businesses, particularly when the business is well-prepared and the network robust. The FD Global network in New York City, for instance, has been developed over more than 12 years and depends on us consistently delivering value through the companies and experts with whom we choose to work. That’s why we care great care to validate that the Australian businesses are truly ready for the US market.

With the right amount of preparation, Australian businesses are uniquely positioned to be successful in the US. Success in the Australian market can be a strong signal to US businesses and customers because Australia is a small market and companies have had to fight hard to secure customers, hire the right staff and drive growth. Americans appreciate the effort is takes to be successful here. But proving you can replicate that success in the US requires a whole different recipe.