Successful Expansion in the United States: It Starts with Your First Hire(s)

When you are looking to expand in a US market, you will naturally wrestle with the question: do I want to send a general manager from the home office or hire locally? This is a question we help our clients navigate all the time.

This “first hire” is critical, and while no one approach suits every company, we do have some tips that we’ve developed over time.

First, understand the sales landscape

Selling in the United States is different, there is no doubt about it. And you’re going to need someone who can sell in this market.

With that in mind, we see our clients taking one of two paths:

  • Sending a general manager from the home country and retaining a local director of sales.
  • Hiring a local GM who can double as a director of sales

The GM you hire will need to act as a Sales Director and therefore need to have the relevant experience. Finding the right person can require some time and flexibility. We saw this with a recent client of ours, a German beauty company, who hired a local sales director who in turn was able to step up and become a general manager.

Whichever way you go, you need someone who can open doors and knows the distribution network for your product.  

Look for “hands-on” candidates

During early expansion, it’s imperative to acquire talented people who are flexible, hands-on and ready to pitch in with anything that needs doing. In other words, the world’s best manager, who has years of experience overseeing teams of hundreds from a cushy corner office is not going to be your go-to in this scenario. The market can change rapidly, and you want people who can adapt to anything.

We worked with a Mexican wines and spirits company that want to stake their claim on the [mid-Atlantic market], and they wanted to hire only one person. What did we advise them? They needed a “mini-GM,” in other word, a self-starter, management experience, who is also a stand-out in sales. While all of those qualities can be hard to find in one person, they were essential to this company’s strategy.

Understand how this hire will interact with the home office

You’ll be relying on your first employee in the States for critical information and updates, so you’ll also want to think through how that individual will report back to the home office. At ACCUR, we strive to place candidates who have some connection to your home country. It could be that they were born there and have extensive experience in the American market, or that they are American and have experience in your home territory. Whatever you choose, make sure that that person can not only perform on the job and be capable of communicating well with superiors at home.

How we can help:

ACCUR Recruiting Services provides a comprehensive set of executive search solutions to the global luxury goods, travel retail, apparel, perfume, watch, food, wine, spirits and cosmetic industries.

What we offer our clients:

  • The right relationships: With a strong partnership with CFR Global Executive Search, we have access to highly qualified candidates in all of the major markets worldwide, including the US and Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
  • Global expertise: As your business expands into new markets and territories, we have the deep expertise and experience in multiple business cultures that will help you bridge the gap.
  • Individualized attention: With processes that work to deliver the best candidates on a tight timescale, rely on us to always apply a sophisticated understanding to any hiring challenge.  

Working with an extensive list of highly seasoned contacts, we work with you to fill executive positions in sales, marketing, finance and many other areas.

Contact us to set up a consultation.


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