Do’s and Don’ts for Selling CAD CAM Software in the US
February 23, 20073 min read
In the last few years several companies from around the world have entered the market in the development and commercialization of CAD, CAM, and graphic software. Some are from countries that have a long tradition of software production, such as France with Dassault. Others, from countries such as India — with a background in outsourcing software services, are now developing and selling their own products. The list of countries selling software in the US grows every day. From a mere glance at the Novedge catalog, I see companies from France, Russia, Italy, India, China, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, and Sweden.
Some companies have difficulties approaching the US market from abroad. In many cases they don't have the experience to approach a global market and to interact with as large and mature a market as the US.
Based on my experience with Novedge, I made a list of the top 10 things non-US companies should do to have a better chance to succeed in the US market.
Think big! The US market includes more than 300 million people. They all speak one single language and they all share the same culture. It's a very big opportunity for your business.
Spread the word! Again, this is a huge country. In order to reach your potential customers you will have to invest in marketing, wisely but heavily. Let people know that you are here and you have a product for them. The rule is simple: no marketing, no business.
Speak English! Before approaching the American market, be sure you have a fantastic English version of your website, and professionally written English documentation for all of your products. Double check that the English throughout your product is perfect. Also have your sales people and technical people prepared to speak English well and to work according to the US time zones.
Keep it simple! Americans are used to simple and fast purchasing processes. This is the country where you can go to a car dealer and leave in 15 minutes driving your brand new car! Americans expect the same level of service from you and your resellers. Because of the Internet, expectations for software products are even higher than for a car. Forget USB keys, computer-IDs and activation codes exchanged by e-mail. Always go for a simple software activation, avoiding complex procedures. Don't invest in excessive piracy protection. Americans are mostly honest people and they like to be respected as such.
Adapt to the local culture! Always remember that you are coming here to sell, not to teach your country's ways or impress people with your local culture. When selling in the US, try to think and act like an American. Even if you believe you have a better practice, never question the American way. Blend in with the way Americans do business, and focus on excelling at what Americans believe is important.
Be local! Prospects, customers, and resellers will expect you to have a US toll free number, and a US e-mail address. You can keep your local domain for your local business, but get a .com domain for the US. Be ready!
Be fast! Don't even think about shipping your products from your country! If you want to sell in the US, you must ship from a US location. Immediately send tracking numbers to your customer or reseller. Shipping from the US will give you the opportunity to offer overnight shipping, a magic word that Americans love, along with a tracking numbers.
Always be nice! Americans are always very polite and nice. This is the country where the lady at the cash register always ask "How are you?" and the only possible answer is "Great!". Prepare your people to be courteous all the time: when they answer the phone, when they write e-mails, and when they send a fax. Believe me, this is really important.
Accept Credit Cards! Be prepared to accept payments by all major credit cards. Never complain about credit card fees with your customers and resellers. Credit cards are an essential tool for US businesses, whether you like them or not.
Follow up, follow up, and follow up again! In order to succeed always follow-up with everyone you do business with and keep each communication short and simple. Americans are used to receiving follow ups as reminders, and expect them. Without follow ups, very little happens.
P.S. This post is based on a short article I posted on the blogof BAIA (Business Association Italy Ameirca) on November 20, 2006.