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Sell Like An "American"

It may seem ironic that in South Eastern Europe (SEE) daily culture, directness and assertiveness are highly valued, yet there is often reluctance to embrace the American selling style, which is characterized by the same traits. In SEE, the traditional way of conducting business is based on building relationships and trust over time, which can be in contrast with the American approach that is more results-oriented and focused on closing the sale quickly.

However, it's important to remember that these cultural differences in communication styles and business practices do not make one approach inherently better than the other. They are simply different, and entrepreneurs in SEE can learn to adapt and utilize the best of both worlds. By incorporating the directness and assertiveness of the SEE culture, with the results-oriented and proactive approach of the American selling style, entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success. By learning and adapting these key characteristics, SEE entrepreneurs can improve their sales process and increase their chances of closing more deals.

The American selling style is known for its direct, results-oriented, and assertive approach. Here are some key characteristics of the American selling style that entrepreneurs in South Eastern Europe (SEE) can learn from:

  1. Directness: American salespeople tend to be very direct and straightforward in their communication style. They are not afraid to ask for the sale or to express their opinions. They are also not afraid to ask for what they want.

  2. Results-oriented: American salespeople are highly results-oriented. They focus on closing the sale as quickly as possible and achieving their goals. They are not afraid to set ambitious targets and are highly motivated to reach them.

  3. Assertiveness: American salespeople are assertive and confident in their approach. They are not afraid to take charge of the conversation and to speak their minds. They also project confidence and a sense of certainty about their product or service.

  4. Proactivity: American salespeople are proactive in their approach. They don't wait for potential customers to initiate contact, they take the initiative to keep the conversation going and follow up on a regular basis.

  5. Adaptability: American salespeople are highly adaptable. They are able to adjust their approach to different situations and customers. They are able to read the customer's behavior and adjust their approach accordingly.

  6. Emphasis on customer service: American salespeople place a strong emphasis on customer service and are dedicated to ensuring customer satisfaction. They are focused on providing value and creating a positive experience for the customer.

  7. Continuous learning: American salespeople are always looking for ways to improve and learn new strategies, techniques, and technologies to improve their sales process.

Follow-Up | Follow-Through

Many SEE founders struggle with poor follow-up and follow-through. To improve in this area, it's important to follow these best practices:

  • After a conversation with a client, investor, or other contact, respond to any questions they had within 48 hours, and send a thank you email within 24 hours, offering to provide any additional information they may need.

  • If you don't receive a response from someone you're trying to sell to, continue to follow up every two weeks until they tell you to wait, and then mark it in your calendar to remind yourself.

I recently asked the founder of a startup company about a potential client. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: What happened with client X?

Founder: They are not interested?

Me: How do you know?

Founder: I sent them an email a month ago and they didn't respond?

Me: Did you follow up with another email since then?

Founder: No.

Me: Why not?

Founder: They are obviously not interested.

Me: You should e-mail them again.

Founder: I don't want to come across as rude or desperate.

Me: You should be desperate and e-mail them until they tell you "do not ever contact me again."

Founder: I don't feel comfortable doing that.

I leave the conversation thinking to myself: This guy is doomed and he's going to fail.

  • Keep your promises and follow through on any expectations you set with others. This shows that you value their time and interest, and that they are important to you. Examples of this include updating customers about improvements you said you would make and following through on introductions to other contacts for references.

You Can Do This!

There are several reasons why you should care about follow-ups and follow-throughs:

  1. Building relationships: Follow-ups are an important way to build relationships with potential customers. By reaching out to them on a regular basis, you can establish trust and credibility, which will make it more likely that they will convert into paying customers.

  2. Keeping the conversation going: Follow-ups allow you to keep the conversation going with potential customers. By reaching out to them on a regular basis, you can keep your brand top-of-mind and ensure that they don't forget about you.

  3. Addressing concerns: Follow-ups are an opportunity to address any concerns that potential customers may have about your product or service. By reaching out to them on a regular basis, you can ensure that their concerns are addressed and that they have all the information they need to make a purchase.

  4. Overcoming objections: Follow-ups are an opportunity to overcome any objections that potential customers may have about your product or service. By reaching out to them on a regular basis, you can provide them with the information they need to overcome their objections and make a purchase.

  5. Highlighting the value of your product: Follow-ups are an opportunity to highlight the value of your product or service. By reaching out to them on a regular basis, you can provide them with information about how your product or service can benefit them.

  6. Showing that you care: Follow-ups are an opportunity to show that you care about your potential customers. By reaching out to them on a regular basis, you can show that you are interested in their needs and that you are willing to go the extra mile to help them.

In the South Eastern Europe (SEE) region, the startup ecosystem is still developing and many entrepreneurs have to work harder to get the same results as their counterparts in more mature ecosystems. Therefore, being persistent and not shy about follow-ups is a key factor to ensure that potential customers don't slip through the cracks and that your startup is able to build strong relationships with them.

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Vladimir Defrančeski
Vladimir Defrančeski
Jan 26, 2023

Agreed. Even after 30+ years of professional life in America, I'm still guilty of the above. It's a real hurdle. Consciously work to overcome it:

In traditional American entrepreneurial business culture (whether and where it remains is a subject for another time) it's presumed that both sides will act in good faith. So, fast forward to the business point of the conversation and never ever lose trust in your good faith.

Beware of excessive humility. For sales, Americans will read European style humility and self-deprecation as weakness, more specifically, lack of confidence in what you are selling. Never say things like "we are a small company, from a small country, trying our best, our niche product.."Any words or body language…

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