You have grown in your home market and are now eager to expand your sales in the United States. However, what was valuable to your customers at home might not translate seamlessly to US clients. Validating your Ideal Customer Profile and testing your sales process within this new cultural context will be crucial to ensure your scalability in the new market.
Identify a primary customer
Founders sometimes sidestep difficult choices by not singling out a definitive group as the primary customer. But companies who do that risk not being focused on anyone.
Define your product or service from the American customer’s point of view. A frequent comment from founders is that the US market is saturated and competitive. How do you stand out from what your customers already have?
Many customers expect a local presence and local services, but not all. You can get started building a book of business before you establish operations on the ground.
Direct-to-Consumer companies can often acquire their customers without a physical presence in the US, since digital marketing can drive the sales process.
Having a transferable marketing strategy is important here – does your message translate well into American?
“ Interestingly for us, there were two clear learnings early on – first, US customers were more willing to try new products and were easier to convert, so CAC was much lower than in Europe. Second, even with the same level of customer satisfaction, willingness to refer the product to new customers was far higher in the US. Our marginal dollars in the US were therefore going a lot further and this created an incredibly appealing proposition as it was going to be so efficient to grow the business.” Ed Boyes, US CEO, Hello Fresh
Building Your US ideal customer profile
1. Determine the customer’s needs
• What pain are they trying to solve?
• How does that pain impact them? • How do they value that impact ($)?
• What results would they like to achieve: on an individual basis, and if B2B, a department and company-basis?
• What are the potential outcomes of those results?
• How will those outcomes impact them, on an individual basis, and if B2B, a department and company-basis?
2. Define the ideal sales target within the customer profile
• Who are the executives that own the pain point and are empowered to act?
• What other roles within the target company (between one and three) would be productive entry points for outreach?
• Who are the individuals most likely to seek a solution that addresses the pain point?
3. Identify how competitors service the customer’s needs
• Are they considering other vendors or using an in-house solution?
• On which criteria are you being evaluated?
4. Define the best process for connecting with the customer
• What is their typical buying process for a product such as yours?
• Can you realistically engage your ideal customer directly or do you need the help of a partner with pre-existing relationships?
• Where is a critical mass of your ideal customers concentrated?
• Does the customer have to be sought out, or would they come to the service?
5. Understand the customer’s ideal timeline
• How long does their typical buying process take? How satisfactory is this to the customer?
• What can complicate/extend their buying timeline? When do they plan to buy?
Validating your US ideal customer profile
1. Test your product on the new customer
• How do these leads respond to your solution?
• What objections do they raise?
• What characteristics of those who respond validate your ideal profile?
• What lessons can you learn from those who reject your sales outreach?
2. Compare your new customer profile to your existing customers
• Did you discover significant differences between the US leads and your existing successful customers?
• How do these differences affect your sales process?
• How do these differences affect your product development roadmap?
• Is the competitor group you are up against the same as that of your home market, or are there significant local players you haven’t yet faced? What is your key differentiation?
3. Tweak your new customer profile based on the feedback
• How do access to leads and conversion rates increase after you make changes to your ideal customer profile?
“ In enterprise sales Americans will buy from domestic vendors unless you can prove you are two to three times better, or you have US marquee clients that you can showcase.” Ian McCaig, Qubit