I’m sitting here in Los Angeles reflecting on how drastically different Americans are to Kiwis when it comes to their ability to execute the “getting to market” phase of business (selling marketing, pitching, messaging).
This post is about SELLING in the USA from the perspective of a Kiwi.
Kiwis are the most innovative and inventive people on the planet (that I have met so far). We are perfectly equipped to be problem solvers, and never admit defeat when faced with a challenge. But for two cultural reasons, we have incredibly poor sales skills.
#1 We are NOT inherently a rat race economy. Early on in school we are encouraged to be creative and individual. There is no great push to be ‘extraordinary’, there is no demand for excellence. In fact, in many cases those with a big ego or who choose to pursue excellence in their lives are criticised and singled out…aka Tall Poppy Syndrome.
#2 We’re a small country with little competition. We aren’t surrounded by companies and salespeople pushing hard and fighting for our business. We don’t get approached often. And we certainly don’t get approached ‘hard’ and pushed (often). As a result, we haven’t experienced a great demand for fast-paced, highly effective salespeople to be developed and created.
This is both incredibly awesome and incredibly challenging for New Zealanders.
Awesome: because we get to live in a low-pressure world without pesky sales people. Challenging: because when we try to build international businesses we are ill-equipped.
Selling to the American
Americans, on the other hand, are hammered in the face thousands of times by salespeople every year. Competition is everywhere and they value a spirit of excellence.
That makes American customers incredibly good at sensing a sales pitch, and American salespeople incredibly effective at selling.
The American customer is like a shark smelling blood, they can spot a salesperson and a sales pitch from 3 miles away. They are abrupt and direct, and they don’t want waffling around. If they do bother to entertain you, they want to know what value you can provide, the cost and all the fine print…pronto.
And they DO judge you on your effectiveness at selling.
The American salesperson is probably a careers salesperson. Raised in the heartland of a large-scale sales organisation with the top market sales training and the best in the business of sales people surrounding them.
They have Delta Force level skill, and sniper-like precision. They are smooth talking, fun-loving, high intensity people.
Yes, many are full of shit.
But many who are incredibly effective too.
All that means: we as kiwis are completely out of our depth when we try to enter the USA to secure partners, customers or capital.
The Kiwi Edge in Selling
We are a humble people, truth telling, slower moving. Our brand here is really GOOD — especially with the level of conmanship and bullshitting the average American customer and investor sees.
A kiwi can and should leverage this brand of integrity and raw honesty.
However, when you try to sell in the USA, you have to be sharp too.
Yes, the kiwi customer you’ve tried to sell to in the past was kind, generous and forgiving. But the American customer is direct, impatient and ruthless.
→ You have to be self-confident and have a thick skin (because they will try to take you down).
→ You have to have a clear, concise pitch (know your value) and communicate it like a boss.
This is where Kiwis fall flat.
Most Kiwis have an absolutely shocking level of self-belief.
This makes you susceptible to jabs and jibes from customers who are trying to throw you off. And it will make it incredibly difficult for you to pick up the phone, email someone or attend a meeting if you keep getting shot down.
Most kiwis I know are terrible at knowing their value, succinctly presenting it, and communicating quickly.
This is NOT your fault. It is a cultural difference we have.
No one has ever demanded that you BE SUCCINCT. In fact, we have a high-tolerance society where people will entertain you even if you can’t shut your mouth. We’re very polite.
No one has ever told you to **** off and get to the point.
And no one has called you an asshole.
This ALL happens in the USA. This is just a defense mechanism that has arisen in their culture — because of being bombarded by sales pitches from early on in their lives.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO BUILD A COMPANY WITH AMERICAN CUSTOMERS understanding these cultural differences and equipping yourself with the skills and inner self-belief should be a top-priority area of personal growth for you.
This is an investment you need to make in yourself to ensure you don’t get shell shocked when you land in San Fran, NYC or LA and actually talk to your customers and investors face-to-face.
Justin Scott is an LA-based kiwi tech entrepreneur. He has been working in/out the USA for two years. Not only can he help you hit the ground running from Los Angeles, with connections lined up ahead of time, but he get you equipped with the self-belief and sales skills you need to feel confident about every interaction you have in the USA.
Hi there future Growth Devil. Is this your backstory?
You run a business selling juju juice online to voodoo provocateurs in southern Jamaica. You’ve tried everything under the sun to get more clicks and more conversions, but you just don’t know what is working.
You keep asking yourself: why don’t my 1 million acolytes convert to paying juju juice customers?
Guess what, you’re not alone.
Many experience this pain. And, we know how to solve it!
Get ready to give your brain a workout and learn about Key Metric Models (you may need some juju juice yourself to get ready!)
Why do we do Key Metrics Modelling?
If you don’t know what contributes to your success then how can you expect to achieve success?
We believe one thing is fundamental to business success: listening to feedback and constantly iterating. So, we’re always engineering feedback loops from our customers and our business. This helps us keep on the pulse, constantly knowing what’s going on and being able to react to changes as quickly and effectively as possible.
Having a key metrics model helps you always understand where your business is at any one time. It’s the feedback loop for your business.
A key metrics model gives you the knowledge you need about your business to come up with improvements (experiments) that:
are testable (we just love A/B tests!)
are easily measurable
can be tracked against all up-channel metrics so you know the true effect on your business
affect only a single metric
actually help grow your business
Keep focused only on experiments that help you succeed, and don’t run experiments just for an ego trip. This is the ultimate pathway to you achieving the goal you’re aiming for.
What is a Key Metric Model (KMM)?
A KMM is business modelling tool for understanding what factors drive the success of your business.
If you have been lucky enough to learn about KPI models then they are very similar and learning about them should be a walk in the park.
Key Metrics = Key Performance Indicators on Juju Juice
(intense, focused, and ready to party)
Key metrics are the measures of your success right now — they can change, as your goals change.
For example, if your goal right now is to prove that your product is ready to take to market, you might look at your key metric being % users retained for six months, or % users that refer their friends after a month of active use.
Both of these key metrics would indicate that your product is valuable to your users — valuable enough for them to stick around, and trust enough for them to refer their friends.
A quick guide to selecting a key metric that drives you towards success:
Key metrics should always be tied to your goal. I.e. achieving your key metric = achieving your goal.
Key metrics must be measurable, testable and directly cause you to succeed.
At Growth Devil, we get hired for one thing, and one thing only: to generate growth for the companies we work with.
Today, we’re revealing one of the ingredients to our secret sauce.
How to Use Key Metrics Modelling for Devilish Growth
There is a pretty simple rule for Growth Hackers
If what you’re experimenting on doesn’t contribute to a metric on the KMM then why the hell are you doing it!
It’s pretty simple to drive your growth once you know what drives your growth.
So, one of the first things we do when we begin growing a company is to figure out WHAT factors are contributing to the growth rate of the company and how changes in these factors affect other areas of your business.
Let’s introduce you to some terminology:
Input factors – these are factors that you can measure directly, and have a direct influence on
Output factors – when we combine two (or more) input or output factors, we get an output factor
Goal metric – the metric that represents the ultimate goal we are trying to achieve
We start by selecting a goal metric. This is a key metric that we use the indicate whether we’re hitting our goal. We then move down the chain from the goal through all the output factors until we have worked out all of the input factors.
This is an example of the paid traffic revenue section of a typical SaaS business model.You can see all the key metrics there.
Can you tell which blobs are input metrics in the above model? They aren’t colour coded! The input metrics are everything at the end of a chain (#new users, %conversion rate, $ per user etc.)
How deep do I go? I recommend going as deep as is needed to get meaningful metrics. If you are doing things like online advertising then I recommend breaking that section out into a separate model which feeds into your primary business model. This way it isn’t too overwhelming. You may wish to break sections out for distribution so that those who are working on specific tactics have the information they need for success.
Once you have this level of detail you should build out a spreadsheet that allows you to input variables and see how changes in variables (the things you can effect change in) affect your bottom line.
Individual key metrics can be individually optimised to realise dramatic improvements.