To successfully enter the US market, CEOs need to re-evaluate all the business fundamentals. This is because the new US environment is different. Customer buying behavior is different. Competition, regulations, channel vs. direct, customer’s business processes – they all have little U.S. nuances that eventually may become the showstoppers.

With that, here are the top 3 time-tested, critical success factors for the U.S. market entry. No difference really from the list when starting a B2B business anywhere else – but that exactly is the point – these are the fundamentals to re-visit, after landing on the new continent and basically starting from square one.

1. Value proposition

A) Your value prop should be crystal clear. The problem-solution-fit is well understood in the context of how the U.S. target customers experience the PROBLEM in their everyday work. ROI and benefits that you promote, are well understood and quantified, with a happy reference customer willing to confirm your findings.

A clear value prop is extremely important, especially for those companies, who claim to be creating a new market category or delivering some new unseen benefits. For those who enter the existing category, where ROI is already well understood, it’s more important to explain why your mousetrap is better than others. I.e. the following:

2. Differentiation

A) Your differentiation is outstandingly well communicated, and quantified, vs. U.S. competition – answering the question: how much better is it? 2x, 5x, 10x? And why is this advantage important for the user?

A special emphasis is on communicating unique selling points against your #1 ENEMY, which is the US-based “good-enough” solution. You understand that technology advantage does not always translate into business benefits. If nobody cares, you will just have advantage without business. And therefore, the key question is: why should anyone care?

3. Online web presence

A) Your online content appears informative and attractive to prospective U.S. buyers – when compared to the websites of other similar or competing US firms. The US audience should see you as a trusted advisor and thought-leader. This enables lead generation and call-backs from marketing campaigns. Missing this will kill many first-time market-entry candidates, as any serious prospect will check the online content and story, before making the first contact or responding to your emails.

B) You are intimately aware of the language and industry-specific jargon that is being used in your target U.S. market. Your team has spent countless hours in research to learn the U.S. buyer’s journey. The content you have created helps buyers to buy, rather than sellers to sell. Tip: it looks much easier to buy when you have a U.S. address and phone number on your website. Start with a virtual presence!

C) You understand that before lead generation you should do brand building. You also understand that in order to do that, even in the most affordable way possible, you have to FIRST create branding content before you start creating lead gen content. Because, lead gen campaigns without first building your brand and trust with your audience is…… yes, spamming.

4. About Marketing

After you have proven that someone is willing to pay money for your product in the USA or you have signed your first partner contract, you must be prepared to invest in marketing. My rule of thumb is that when you start scaling the business in the U.S., after capturing the first reference customer, you should have at minimum $5-10k/month marketing budget available for targeting the US market, or 10-15% from revenue whichever is greater. Because for scaling, and for your US resellers support, you have to start building your brand and you have to start generating leads. You will never maximize your business potential in the US by having your “agent” knocking door-to-door. And unlike in many European countries, in the U.S. the salespeople (when you finally hire them) do not generate their own sales leads. You have to generate them.

This all is, of course, UNLESS your GTM model is solely through channel distribution. In the channel model, your channel partner may have all customers ready and they may do the marketing, if you are lucky. But, when you go through the channel, you must also make sure your product’s gross margin can support the reseller price that may be -30% lower than the market. So, either you sell direct and invest in marketing, OR you sell through the partners and accept the discounted price. Money spent, one way or the other.

Related to marketing, an important detail: eventually you have to make U.S.-specific marketing material, brochures, data sheets, white papers, price lists, agreements, etc. All this paperwork MUST be in a U.S. Letter size format, not in A4. Really. Because otherwise they will not print our correctly. And the US materials should have the US address printed on them. Did I mention that already – by using your virtual office address! If you miss all this, it sends a message that you do not really care about the US business details and it’s obvious that you live somewhere far, far away.

Questions? Do not hesitate to call or email me anytime. The more difficult problem you have, the more delighted we are to help you find a solution.