The top 10 things Italians must do right to sell software in US

Articolo apparso nel novembre 2006 sul blog di BAIA

Generally speaking, Italy is not perceived as one of the best places for software development. Personally, I disagree with that perception. I know that Italy has a rich pool of top quality software developers, highly qualified just as most US developers. Also, Italy has a small group of software manufacturers offering an incredible set of high-quality products. Despite the basic ingredients for global success, many Italian software companies are experiencing difficulties entering the International markets, specifically the US market.

Based on my experience as software reseller at Novedge, I listed the top 10 things Italian companies should do to have a chance to succeed in the US market.

  1. Think big!
    The US market includes more than 300M people. They all speak one single language and they all share the same culture. It’s a very big opportunity for your business.
  2. Spread the word! This is a huge country, to reach your potential customers you will have to wisely but heavily invest in marketing. Let as many people as you can know that you are here and you have something for them. It’s simple: no marketing, no business.
  3. Speak English! Before approaching the American market, be sure you have a fantastic English version of your website and a professionally written English documentation for all your products. Double check that all your products speak English perfectly! Also, have your salespeople and technical people prepared!
  4. Keep it simple! Americans are used to a simple and fast purchase process. 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. Expectations are even higher if your software costs less than a car. Forget USB keys, computer-IDs exchanged by e-mail!
    Always go for simple software activation, avoid complex procedures
    and excessive piracy protection.
  5. Adapt to the local culture! Always remember that you are coming here to sell, not to teach Italian style or to show how supposedly better the Italian way is. If you like Italy so much, stay over there. When selling in the US, try to think and to act like an American. Blend in with the way Americans do business and focus on excelling at what they feel is important.
  6. Be local! Prospects and customers will expect you to have a local toll free number, and a local e-mail address (keep the .it domain for Italy, get a .com domain for the US). Be ready!
  7. Be fast! Don’t even think about shipping your products from Italy! 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 number.
  8. 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!“. She doesn’t really
    care, she is just following a local tradition. Prepare your people to be courteous the same way all the time: when they answer the phone when they write e-mails or send a fax. It’s really important.
  9. Be reliable! In this country Net 30 means 30 days, not one day more. People will pay you in a timely manner and they will expect you to do the same. If your goal is to establish good relationships with your suppliers and customers, play by the rules.
  10. 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. Many people are used to receiving follow-ups as reminders and expect them. Without follow-ups, very little happens.

This is a partial list based on my personal experience. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment, I will be glad to have a discussion and publish a version 2.0, including your feedback.

Franco Folini

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