At Glenborn we help earlier stage marketing and ecommerce Saas firms make their crucial sales hires – from CROs and VPs to senior individual contributors. Most of the firms we work with are NYC or SF based startups but about 25% come from overseas – from Europe and Israel in particular. I am involved with the NYCEDC, UKTI and I run the NY Digital Irish group which all help foreign startups break into the US. Every few months I get to sit on panels focused on guiding startups on how to start hiring in the US. Here are the pointers I give them:
1. Are you really ready to hire in the US yet? Consider the alternatives. Think about contractors (1099 workers in US vernacular). Maybe using them or a sales agent is a better way for you firm to enter the US market.
2. Assuming you are ready, get prepped to hire.
a. Incorporate with a lawyer and get prepared to hire with offer letter samples / employment contracts etc. Get an EIN (tax id), accountant, payroll and benefits provider.
b. Choose your location. Think of your sales model. Inside versus outside sales and associated labor costs. Where are your key verticals located? NYC covers a lot of bases (Financial, pharma, agencies, media) but CA, for example is better for Tech vendors, gaming and Entertainment. Move to the area closest to key customers and partners.
c. Get an office. With so many coworking options this is easy and cheap in most us cities.
d. Get local case studies and localized collateral fast. “Ss” become “Zs”! Acronyms like ICT are not used here so test your lingo first.
3. Go local fast. Hire Americans. A few HQ transplants work for a while but the quicker you hire local the better. This is especially true the further away from the major cities you get.
4. Get your recruitment act together before you come. Hire an agency. It is hard enough to sell your product in a foreign land from scratch so you should definitely outsource the recruiting. Local knowledge is key. Don’t rely on job postings and inbound responses to those postings or ads. Inbound applications in the US are generally of very poor quality.
5. Differentiate yourself in your outreach and interviews Remember candidates are bombarded by choice! For Salespeople expect to be asked lots of questions around how you stack up relative to US competition. Here are some things to consider in differentiating yourself:
6. Interview pitfalls and tips
7 Paying people.
8. Remember “At will employment” is a 2 way street.
Employment here is generally “at will” which means anyone can break the relationship at any time. This flexibility makes the US very hiring (and firing) friendly. This works 2 ways so be very aware that loyalty is thinner on the ground. Work on your culture and perks to keep folks happy.
We hope these tips can help you make the smooth transition to making the first hires in the US. If you are looking to do this in the near or medium term, feel free to reach out to me through Linkedin.