Is sales different in the UK compared to the US?

We may drive on separate sides of the road and pronounce ‘aluminium’ differently, but what about sales? Do you sell differently when you cross the Atlantic? Let’s find out.

In May 2019, I was privileged to appear on Jeremey Donavan’s podcast, Hey Salespeople. Jeremey is SalesLoft’s VP of Sales Strategy and self-proclaimed sales nerd, so as you can imagine, we had a great time chewing the fat.

For the main part of the podcast, we talked about the differences between how I sell in the UK and how Jeremey does it in the States. We looked at 4 areas of sales and pinpointed the similarities and differences. Are we Brits so different from our brothers and sisters in the US? Let’s find out.

Cold calling/emailing

Jeremey told me how many organisations in the US have stopped cold calling and emailing companies in Europe because of GDPR. They are worried about falling foul of GDPR, with its strict guidelines and harsh penalties for breaching them. They prefer to leave Europe altogether until things have settled down.

However, in practice, GDPR hasn’t changed much around B2B cold calling and emailing. Here was my answer.

‘If it’s a business number on a company website, that’s publicly available information. We’re not talking about calling an individual in the home. The ability to pick up the phone, dial up the business number and create interest for your business is still the same. Ditto for email.’

Where GDPR has changed things is what you do with the data once you’ve used it, but that doesn’t affect how we sell.

Result: No difference

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social network that has united the business world. It’s removed divisions, not created them. What was heartening about discussing this with Jeremey is that what works on LinkedIn will work wherever your customer is based. Engaging with content, leveraging mutual connections; the personal touch works well everywhere.

Also, the brash sales techniques some people employ on LinkedIn are just as annoying there as well as here. As Jeremey put it.

‘When someone connects with me out of the blue, then the next thing I get is a half-page long InMail. I don’t like it. It doesn’t work particularly well. I assume that’s bad practice in the UK?’

Err… yes!

Result: No difference

Text messages

In the US, texting prospects at the start of the sales cycle is becoming more common. Jeremey isn’t a fan. He said it’s ‘extremely off-putting’.

That’s certainly true in the UK. People tend to be very sensitive about their mobiles. If someone you don’t know has your mobile number, it automatically puts your back up. You wonder how they’ve got it and what they’re going to do with it next.

So I guess the result is, no difference.

However, me personally, I have no problem with it. In fact, I quite like it. It makes a nice change from people emailing me or contacting me on LinkedIn. If you get me on text, you genuinely get me!

Face to face sales

How big does the deal on the table need to be for you to go and meet someone face to face?

In the UK, we are generally willing to meet someone when the numbers start to hit five figures. If you’re in the same city like London, it might be much less.

‘From a geographic perspective, you can get pretty much halfway up England on a train in a couple of hours. So, generally, there is a much higher expectation that you should meet someone face to face early on in an engagement. I do feel like it adds a huge amount of weight.’

‘I think anything below $10K is achievable over the phone, but that final sign-off will still happen quicker if you go and shake their hand.’

Obviously, the US is a much bigger country. There isn’t that expectation that there will always be a meeting. People are happier to B2B deals over the phone up to a much larger level.

Result: DIFFERENCE!

Two countries united in sales

So as it turns out, there isn’t much difference between sales here in the UK and over there in the US. The main difference, the point at which you go to meet a customer face to face, is more of a geographical problem than any fundamental difference.

It’s heartening. It also one of the reasons why so US companies are locating their EMEA bases in the UK. We speak the same language!

What do you think? What do you see as the main differences in how we sell B2B in the UK and US? Maybe you’ve worked in both countries and can give us some real insight.

Leave a comment below. We’d love to know.

Here’s another link to the full podcast. Make sure you give it a listen!

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