US Tips #1: Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

This tips of trade article is contributed by guest author Ian Smith of United States Connect.

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The United States remains the world’s largest economy and by far the largest consumer market. While its size means the US can be very profitable for NZ companies, it is also highly competitive and has one of the highest ‘failure’ rates for market entrants.

You may only get one chance to present your product or service and secure the sale so preparation is crucial. Here are some pointers to ensure that you make a lasting impression with potential US customers:


  • For certain industries business attire is important so be sure to ask what is appropriate. A business suit is still common for most meetings and trade shows.
  • Plan appointments well ahead of time and confirm the day before the meeting.
  • Punctuality is expected.
  • Be certain to have a 30 second “elevator” speech prepared to grab their attention and a short PowerPoint to go into more detail. This should include key selling points, company background and pricing.
  • Be prepared to negotiate on price and terms as it is expected. Ensure that you factor in all margins across the supply chain.
  • It is best to follow up each meeting with a summary email and key action items. This will confirm genuine interest in your offering and provide a go-forward plan which you should drive.

Follow Up

  • Kiwis are renowned for not following up on leads made at a trade show or on a business trip. Even with the best of intentions when you land back in NZ and have the day-to-day pressures of work and an over flowing inbox it is easy to put the follow up off.
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep. It is better to get the business 6 months later than to get a PO today only to find you cannot deliver on the order.
  • Be proactive – Just because you haven’t received a response to an email/phone call does not mean buyers are not interested! Ring until you feel uncomfortable and then ring 10 more times!
  • Be direct – Being what Kiwi’s would call “modest” and self-effacing may be seen as a weakness in the States. If you have the best product/service/solution in the world then say so!


Ian Smith is the Founder of United States Connect, an online platform that provides a one-stop-shop for New Zealand companies to access the information, advice and contacts they need to succeed in the United States. For more information go to


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