There are lots of factors necessary to successfully engage, close and grow a customer based relationship with a US-company. Ofcourse your product must have the right elements of price to value, you must provide differentiation along an axis that your client cares about, your support must be up to par with the market, and numerous other factors. One element of successfully growing your US-business, one that is less discussed, is the element of local presence.
When speaking with clients we define local presence by distance from the target market:
- In the neighborhood = in the same metro-area as the multi-national so as to be able to visit “immediately”. Being in the neighborhood of your client is always a benefit but can be particularly helpful if “community” engagement and dependencies, on-site support, strong elements of co-development, rapid and iterative cycles, or high logistics cost and supply chain dependencies exist. Added benefits of being in the metro-area allows you to engage at a certain level in the community and get to know the client and its multiple stakeholders; something that is a key ingredient if you want to grow the client.Consider for example the Wind-energy industry.
- regional-presence = WIthin 3-5 hours driving distance so as to enable for frequent but pre-planned meetings. This is the degree of localization that most of our clients are advised to provide to their clients in the USA. Being in the same region where you can drive to the client is a big difference from requiring a longer plane flight; requiring a flight is a mental hurdle in the minds of most companies. Being in the same region allows you to pick up some of the local flair (example: knowing about college football in the South is a big plus as most executives in this region have some interest in this sport) and you’re never too far away to be able to execute a face to face meeting….which many times is the factor that makes or breaks the deal.
- National presence: When speaking of achieving success in the USA it’s imperative to have at least this level of presence to your customers. First and foremost you’ll be able to communicate with the client and his team via phone, something that is greatly hindered if you’re 6-9 hours away (example: Denmark). In addition you may be required to have local presence to comply with customer purchasing requirements (many Fortune 500’s require to be doing business with a local legal entity for reasons that include risk management).
Summarizing the importance of local presence I’ll quote one of our Senior Relationships with one of the world’s largest companies, a firm headquartered down the road from us here in Atlanta:
“While we don’t mind getting on planes to meet with vendors, you should realize that we are busy people. We may find it hard to find the time. In addition we are “lazy” 😉 If you’re local you’ll definitely increase your odds of doing business with us.”; Senior Executive at Fortune 50 company in Atlanta