For SaaS companies based in Europe & Israel, selling and expanding into the US represents a significant milestone. North America is a large monolithic market for SaaS companies, accounting for 60% of total global revenues. The US, therefore, represents the biggest market for SaaS businesses, and expansion is critical to the success & longevity of an organisation. Cognatio Solutions have helped several early & growth stage companies build their first US revenue team— from Seed to Series D. During this time, we’ve developed unique expertise in helping startups navigate a complex new territory terrain.
The first steps to help expanding into the US:
“Minimum sellable product”
Take a critical assessment of your product and its suitability for the US market. Consider the distinction between a minimum viable product (MVP) and a minimum sellable product (MSP). You must engage with US buyers to know if your product is ready for the US market. As a founder, make as many discovery calls as possible with your US ICP. Gather their feedback to determine if your product has the necessary features/value to stand out from the competition in this market.
Conviction in your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Ensure you have a clear ICP with repeatable sales to 1-3 customer segments that can be translated effectively in the US, indicating value from your solution.
Test paid activity to validate demand
Based on your initial research, consider creating custom landing pages and targeting high-volume keywords, especially those with commercial intent. If your research confirms a significant opportunity in the US market and you have defined clear entry milestones, make subtle adjustments like incorporating US accents in animations and using US phone numbers on the contact page. This way, you will be better prepared for when you will be actually taking action for expanding into the US.
Legal and Compliance
Understand the legal and regulatory environment in the US, including data privacy laws, taxation, and business permits. Comply with all relevant regulations to avoid potential legal issues.
Another central question is choosing the far West Coast tech hubs or the more accessible East Coast. The East Coast East Coast time zone is usually more convenient for companies from Europe and Israel. Nevertheless, the West Coast also offers notable advantages, with a well-established Tech and SaaS Ecosystem. But ultimately, the decision will be influenced by various factors, such as customer concentration, cost of team build and more.
After completing those processes, albeit with some requiring iterations, the time has come to hire and make your first steps in anticipation of expanding into the US!
Define your Ideal Candidate Profile & MOC
Your first US GTM hire must embody the qualities of entrepreneurship, resourcefulness, and resilience. They should possess a growth mindset, perceive setbacks as learning opportunities rather than failures, and be exceptionally comfortable with the uncertainties and chaos of early-stage or new territory ventures. Create a scorecard or mission-outcomes-competencies (MOC) document as the default qualifier throughout the hiring process.
Have a structured and prescriptive approach to hiring, but be aware there’s a possibility of encountering a candidate with exceptional charisma who feels right for the role. Sometimes, such candidates may have less experience but display remarkable intelligence and tenacity. These individuals will wholeheartedly embrace your company’s values, grow alongside it, and become significant contributors. Taking a chance on someone like this can yield advantageous outcomes.
Engage a GTM recruitment partner
Engage a GTM recruiting partner (COGNATIO, ha) who truly comprehends the complexity of new territory hires. They should not only understand but also have the capacity to influence A Players, especially given the backdrop of little to no brand awareness. Moreover, they should excel in storytelling effectively about your people, product, and purpose; essentially, they must serve as a seamless extension of your organization and talent team. Finally, they need to offer guidance on the recommended job title, equity, compensation, and quota design.
There is a solution……