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Want to do business in the US? Then master the 30-minute meeting

By Mike Kerans, founder

May 3, 2016 | 3 min read

One of the biggest differences between selling in the US vs Europe is The 30-Minute Meeting. They are absolutely the norm in the US and can take some getting used to.

Are Americans simply ruder, more abrupt than their EU counterparts? I would suggest that this brevity comes out of the fact that US meets tend to be less social. In Europe, people tend to know one and other. London = UK, Paris = France, Berlin/Hamburg/Munich = Germany. Participants know one and other and have done business together. Old ground is often re-covered.

Doing business in the US tends to be more transactional. Identify a pain point you are solving, explain why your solution meets the requirements of that challenge, compare and contrast your approach to others if applicable, and frame how a simple test works—showing a few case studies along the way.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. What’s different is that has to be conveyed in eight minutes. That’s right. Eight minutes.

Why? How? It is simple math. The 30-Minute Meeting has five minutes of pleasantries at the top, with any luck five minutes of next step planning at the bottom, leaving 20 minutes. If selling is listening, and it is, then Q&A with the client should command at least 10-12 minutes. What are they doing now? How is it working? Who are stakeholders in the decision?

That leaves eight minutes for the presentation. Five slides, if any.

Don’t begin a deck by introducing yourself and your company. Skip that slide or place it at the end. Your first slide is the problem slide. What you can do for them that they can’t do for themselves. Next is what you do and why you are the best alternative in your category. Then any successes you’ve had are quantified, followed by simple steps on getting started and what to expect in a successful test.

Of course meetings can and do extend beyond the confines of 30 minutes here. That said, as often as they are 45-60 minutes, they are 20 minutes. Someone is late. The decision-maker has the inevitable “hard stop” making your ability to get to the point quickly mission critical.

Our EU clients universally appreciate the discipline required to execute the 30-minute meeting well. All seem to feel it improves the efficiency and impact of traditionally longer meetings back home. Perhaps American rudeness is good for something.

Michael Kerans is founder of C.R.O. Partners

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