Digest: Business Development in the US, between myths et truths

Digest: Business Development in the US, between myths et truths


Talk about Business development in the USA with Nick Hernandez - CEO @360 Learning and Richard Lamure - CEO @Topsolid

🎙️ Interviews
Business Development
Meeting Date
March 11, 2021
How do you approach a market as big as the United States? We asked two CEOs of our portfolio who have now succesfuly moved their company to the US. → Recruitment, compensation, handling cultural differences: find out all their best practices in this digest.

Cultural differences between France and the USA

The cultural differences between the United States and France are numerous and are generally under-estimated by the companies.

These differences are mainly due to the size of the American market, which is huge and therefore not in any sense comparable to France.

These differences can lead to miscommunication and collaboration issues between the French and American teams, so it is key to anticipate them.

"The cultural gap with America is greater than the cultural gap with China." - Nicolas Hernandez - CEO of 360 Learning
Good practice: to ensure the best collaboration between French and American teams, it is recommended to consider taking the time to explain these differences. French teams need to be aware that they are dealing with people who do not have the same way of approaching things at work as they do.
Some behaviors can also be difficult to interpret, such as the " fake-cool " of Americans: people work from home, in hoodies and jogging. In the US, being "cool" is a positive value.

The market approach/go-to-market

The competition

A French company that sets up in the United States has to deal with tough competition from American companies.

"The American market is a difficult market because our competitors are American players. We're playing in enemy territory [...] so it's not easy." - Richard Lamure, CEO of Topsolid

However, being a newcomer in a market is not a burden. It can actually be an asset: Americans have an open mind that makes them curious. So much that they are ready to change suppliers just for the sake of novelty.

"The American is not bothered by the fact that you have not been in the market for a long time. [...] They love innovation, they are very curious, so it's an asset you have to play with. » - Richard Lamure, CEO of Topsolid.
Good practice: Do not hesitate to emphasize on the "innovation" aspect in your communication and marketing of your product.

Business development

Here is a brief overview of the main differences in business development practices in France vs the United States.

Meetings in France 🇲🇫

The meeting process is not the same in France and in the USA.

In France, meetings last 2 hours by default. They start with an introduction of the people. Then, the salesman asks his prospect about his different problems. According to the answer, the salesman will adapt his answer and explain the different solutions.

Meetings in the US 🇺🇲

In the US, the pattern is different. The meeting slots are more like 20 minutes.

The salesperson leads the meeting and explains what he does with a very precise and focused pitch. Only then does the prospect respond to say if he is interested or not.

It is easier to get business meetings in the United States. The real selection takes place after the first meeting.

Pitching in France 🇲🇫

There is also a big difference in the sales technique.

The French pitch is a rather free and creative pitch.

Pitching in the US 🇺🇲

In the United States, you have to pitch your solution quickly, within a given time frame. The prospect must immediately understand what he can gain / what the solution can bring him.

It is important to have a clear, precise and very focused pitch to sell your product.

The pitch should be very simple and very scalable and explain one thing: why my solution is the best.


Sales in the U.S. 🤓🇺🇲

The sales profession in the United States is not the same as in France: the methods and profiles of salespeople are quite different.

  • Sales can be done entirely remotely. American buyers do not necessarily feel the need to visit factories or meet the salesperson. As a result, salespeople are fairly sedentary.
  • The American salesperson is there to learn a pitch by heart and recite it to as many prospects as possible.
  • You don't need to hire top salespeople or top managers.
  • However, it is important to give your sales something to do, by providing them with leads so that they can close deals quickly.
"The American salesperson is a salesperson who is going to be much less creative than a European salesperson. He is going to map an account [...] and then deliver a pitch." - Nicolas Hernandez, CEO of 360 Learning


Contrary to popular belief, it is not mandatory to adapt all your marketing practices to the American market. According to the 360 Learning example, what works in France can also work very well in the United States. However, there are important tactical adaptations to be made, with some subtleties.

Website 🖥️

Be careful, a European website is not an American website. The way of expressing yourself is not the same. The American style is concise, direct and clear. The website must follow these guidelines.

Best practices :

Use "social proofs" and don't hesitate to abuse "Gate keepers" (= trusted third parties) for landing pages: customer references, testimonials, rankings, awards... Example: a landing page of the 360 Learning , almost exclusively made of social proofs. Integrate a blog into the website, a tool that is very popular in the US.

A key hire for an American website design is a product marketing person to handle the copywriting of the landing pages. The person will know how to use the local expression style to increase the conversion rate.

Digital Marketing

The use of digital marketing increased in sales techniques in the US.

Digital marketing is used to support the sales function and influence all personas in the sales process. Salespeople need a lot of leads to do their job effectively!

Storytelling ✏️

Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily have to be inspiring at the brand level in the US, nor do you have to sell a philosophical and ambitious version of changing the world.

Instead, you need a clear vision, with punch lines, that explains why you're the best and proves it.

« You still have to tell a story and give concrete examples and clients. » - Richard Lamure, CEO of Topsolid
« They are very fond of social proof. They love everything that is rankings, comparators, ... all that part that comes to reassure. » - Nicolas Hernandez, CEO of 360 Learning

Branding 🌺

Branding is important because people are very sensitive to it.

If you have a very technical solution, it is important to package it in the simplest way possible.

Delivery and product support should also be designed to be very simple.

Best practice: Offer an e-learning or self-training solution to accompany a technical solution.

HR aspect

The US job market

The job market is extremely different in France and the United States. It is a full employment market, very mobile, where it is difficult to attract and retain talent. There is an absolute war for talent with GAFAs that have infinite predatory qualities.

« The real issue in the US is people. [...] It's a full employment market, so it's very difficult to attract talent, even if you try to attract young talent coming out of school, you're going to be confronted with high salaries, incomparable to those you can find in France. » - Richard Lamure, CEO of 360 Learning


  • Beware, recruitment can be very time consuming and require dozens of hours of interviews.
  • The word of the candidates does not have the same value as in France: it may very well happen that people who have signed their job offer then decide to give up the position.
  • Contrary to France, the fact that an employee is specialized is appreciated in the U.S. On the contrary, generalist profiles are less valued than in France. It is therefore advisable to recruit highly specialized employees in order to be as productive as possible in the various missions.
Best practice: For an easier entry into the U.S. market, it is advisable to work through a recruitment agency.


Salaries are much higher in the US than in France. You have to be prepared for this in order not to lose time and to be able to offer salaries that might seem much more expensive in France.

Best practice: Set high salaries directly in job descriptions to attract talent.

It is necessary to give a preponderant place to the variable in the compensation of its American employees, in particular in the sales force.

Best practice: Fix a bonus part in the remuneration.
"We are confronted with salaries that are incomparable to what we could find in France. At the beginning it shocks, it puts us off [...] It made us lose months and months to arrive at the conclusion that we had to put a little more." - Richard Lamure, CEO of Topsolid
"Americans must be given the opportunity to earn a lot from their work, especially regarding the sales force." - Richard Lamure, CEO of Topsolid

🚨 Beware, the preconception that there is no employee protection in the United States is false. It is important to be on the same level as your competitors in terms of benefits, and therefore you must offer from the beginning mutual insurance, pension and retirement, with the famous 401k.


In France, training is seen as an investment, whereas in the United States it can be seen as a burden. In a highly mobile full-employment market, there is a risk that the employee will leave overnight.

Americans may therefore be reluctant to train their employees extensively.
« There is a freedom of movement in the United States, it's an ease to leave your job and find another one. The ease of leaving is an advantage for us Europeans, but in reality it's a complication because you train your staff and overnight they leave» - Richard Lamure, CEO of Topsolid

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