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13 May 2019 / durhamlane

durhamlane heads to North America

Sean Ball

by Sean Ball

Images of North America

“Software is eating the world…”

…These were the wise words of Marc Andreessen, co-founder of NetScape, back in 2011.

In 2019, it’s clear he was right.

The rapid growth of new starts-ups and scale-ups offering digital transformation products and services in recent years has been astonishing – especially across North America.

The challenge these businesses often face is landing, expanding and accelerating sales growth in UK and Europe.

This is why our colleagues Anthony Usher (Regional Sales Manager) and Lee Durham (Co-Founder & Managing Partner) recently travelled to North America, meeting tech companies in three key cities (New York, Boston and Toronto) with ambitions for sales growth in UK and Europe

We caught up with Anthony Usher to hear all about the trip. Here’s what we discussed:

Why did you target North America and what were the main drivers?

As part of our growth strategy this year, we are having a big push in building our American footprint. Not landing and scaling in the US and Canada, but rather helping North American companies to land and scale in the UK and Europe.

Now that we’ve just opened our new Delivery Centre in Bratislava, we have full multilingual capabilities across Europe.

This removes the barriers to entry for them, and offers an easy way to test new markets as we build their pipeline through our outsourced business development services, utilising our proven Selling at a Higher Level methodology.

When the time is right, they can then land and scale which also means supporting them with building their commercial teams, and training and upskilling their individuals whilst they’re in market and have enough pipeline to justify that.

Where were your core focuses and why?

Boston, New York and Toronto – those were the main core focuses. Lee spent time in Boston in December, which was a really successful trip.

We know that these cities are hubs for Software and Tech companies – as well as accelerators and incubators. These sectors are predominantly where we sit – with 70% of our clients falling under these industries, so we will continue to push our focuses there.

As we progress, we will come up against more niche businesses, but we have other sweet spots – cyber security and Fintech. Typically, any B2B business with a complex value proposition that is looking to scale we can help with. So long as they’re the right Business Fit. This is what our first Sales Mantra is all about – Business Fit, Business Value, Long Term Relationships.

If it’s the type of business that needs us to be on site quite a lot, it’s obviously a bit more challenging. Though usually, SaaS and Software businesses can do all of their solutions remotely.

We qualify businesses using our methodology and sales diagnostic tools (known as Magic 35) regardless, so we’ll only work where we can add genuine value.

Did you find anything particularly challenging?

There wasn’t anything I didn’t enjoy, though it was intense. We were having meetings from before 7.30am and we were still meeting with people around 8pm in the evening.

One thing I found challenging was the back to back meetings, constantly pitching durhamlane in the way that we do – it can be exhausting!

It was quite a long, arduous process and we found out very quickly that it is a very different market.

My perception was that you get quizzed a lot more, both on who we are as a business, as well as our experience in certain markets- more so than in the UK. This forced you to be ready for anything.

How did you prepare for so many meetings?

To prep, 30-40 minutes of solid research for every business. If we’re due a particularly long meeting, may be a bit longer. This includes looking at who they are, their values, any relevant press or media, and any investments they’ve had (what we call ‘triggers’ or ‘compelling events’).

I try to look into the individual we are scheduled to meet. Where their previous experience is and what their expertise is – any relevant background.

It’s important to do your research rather than going into something like that cold. I did do that once, one of my first ever durhamlane calls about 4 years ago. I was asked, ‘what are your company values’ and, I didn’t know. The call ended very shortly after that…

Can you elaborate on how North America differs to the UK and European market?

There are three notable things that we learnt very quickly.

Firstly, Americans in particular are very direct and to the point, which was actually quite refreshing. Here, you often find yourself having almost too much small talk prior to getting into the business talk.

In the US, you have maybe 60 seconds of commonalities before it’s very much ‘what are you here for and can you help us?’ If not, let’s cut this short.

The other two things were that in New York, we were very much informed it’s who you know in these markets, opposed to what you are offering and what you actually have to say.

One of the biggest contrasts I found was the difference between series A or pre-series A investment in the US, compared to the UK and Europe.

Series A or anything pre-series A is typically anything from half a million to 2 million sterling. In the US, it’s anything from 2 million to 10 million dollars, and that’s for companies that sometimes have only 5 employees. This makes a very good fit for our services giving our price model and the investment that they normally receive.

How did you come to arrange these meetings?

We created a series of campaigns over a 3 month period into these markets, and waited to see the interest as a result of this. Obviously, we’re trying to ensure that our diaries are full whilst we’re in market with people that genuinely want to meet with us for a tangible reason (again, Business Fit, Business Value!).

We use our Magic 35 to have a question-led prequalification call before we meet to understand each other’s businesses, and know what they’re expecting to achieve.

There must be a genuine business fit. The initial call was often with CMO’s, CSO’s, CEO’s, VP’s of sales, VP’s of Marketing, and chief revenue officers as well. In the UK, we’re pitching to one or two people. In the US, we often seemed to be pitching to 5 plus people. However, it was all the senior people involved in the decision making process, so it was really useful.

Why would a North American company be interested in speaking with durhamlane?

We run a proof of concept campaign, retained models and managed services. The beauty of proof of concept is that it allows businesses to test other geographies and sectors to scale without having to make the huge commitment in terms of incorporation and other costs.

If a North American company feels their services could be advantageous to the UK and Europe, we offer a really quick and efficient way to be consistently testing those markets.

We offer market intelligence and insight, so we can be the go-to partner for testing markets. Your existing sales team won’t be taken away from their core focus, and we offer a reliable and ready-made team of sales experts in return.

In as little as 4-6 weeks from our first engagement, we can build pipeline and qualify genuine leads. This saves costly expenses on recruitment, upskilling and even relocating. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about the tax side of things either, which is another benefit.

What’s next for the North America campaign?

We’re off to a great start, certainly across the North Eastern coast. We have built an incredible pipeline of opportunities. Very much in the same way that we help US and Canadian companies to test markets in the UK and Europe, we will continue to test markets and states in the US and Canada.

There’s a big cyber security hub in Colorado, Texas has a big tech hub, as does Georgia and Atlanta. So, we want to campaign in these states very soon. 

Our plan is to identify the businesses and create a strategy to go with them on a ‘tristate’ basis. Based on our research, if there are lots of VC investments going into these markets and states and they are a business fit, we can rebuild strategy around that.

It’s an ongoing process with a lot of pre-work, prep and research. For the relatively immediate results we’ve seen however- it’s hugely worth it as we look to expand over the next few years.

If you are a North American company with ambitions for sales growth in UK and Europe, you should consider speaking to durhamlane – Europe’s fastest growing sales acceleration consultancy.

Call +44 (0) 191 481 3800 for an exploratory and confidential conversation, or fill out the form below


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