Posted by: Adam Deane | 21/10/2011

BPM: Getting Feedback

British AmericanGrumble, grumble… USA… grumble, grumble, grumble…
I still haven’t fully recovered from my jetlag.

I could write a dozen blog posts on the differences between the US and the UK, but to be honest, there are not a lot of real differences.

BPM projects that I’ve implemented in the US are done in the same way as here in the UK and other parts of the world. There might be more time spent during the planning stage of the project in the UK, but it’s basically the same. The same time, the same problems, the same issues.

What I do see different is the sales cycle, or at least the way the sales cycle is run.
One of the basic differences that stand out is getting feedback from your presentation.

In the US, if you go in into boardroom and present your solution, they will tell you what they feel about the solution. Heck, they will tell you what they think of your presentation, about you and about your mama.
In Europe they hold the cards closer to their chest. You can leave the boardroom after a fantastic presentation and you never know if it went well or not, if they loved you or hated your guts.

It’s not just a cultural difference, it’s also a different business approach that enables the customer more leverage to lower the price later in the negotiations. Its more of a business tactic.

Apart from the obvious need to hear that your presentation went well, it also limits your ability to learn from mistakes.
Of course, the correct approach is to engage with the customer, to let them talk, to hear what they need, and to build upon their wishes, but sometimes it’s not possible.

You learn from feedback, so usually I would prefer audiences with the american approach… unless it goes like this…


  1. I just dissent. I sincerely believe there is no correlation between the engaged the audience and the price tag. Usually, the negotiation stage is long, people gets cold, competitors appear (diluting the moods). To me, price tag is something ourselves (competitors) destroy and lack of maturity (actors) aggravates.

  2. Hi Adam, my experiences are slightly different.

    In the US you will get often great feedback, but when you call the next day, no one can remember your name. There is a lot of superficiality there. But in principle it is obviously a lack of presentation skill as you haven’t excited your audience enough. An US audience expects that moe than indepth information. Entertain them. In the US you need to be very weary as to who is in the audience as to not loose them. Mixed audiences of management, IT and users are not doable there. The interests and skills are VERY different.

    In the UK the audience is usually impatient as they really want to get out to not miss the pub opening times (many haven’t got used to pubs that are always open).

    The key difference is however in how projects are done and budgets are allocated. In the US it is always turnkey for one project. There is very little architectural consideration. They want a point solution for a point problem. In Europe there is a lot more architecture (especially Germany) that can get in the way of solving a point problem quickly. In Europe everything is considered an ‘investment’ even if it is a ridiculous maintenance expense of old crap. In the US everything is a cost to be cut!

    In the US the sale will be made with the presentation and not with the functionality of the product! The contract is signed by giving the right discount even if you raised the list price beforehand. The purchasing department simply needs to show its worth even if it is an illusion.

    In Europe you will need to virtually need to prove everything before you will even be considered as a vendor. But Europeans suffer from the illusion that everything that comes from far away (especially US) must be better. We lack the ability to be proud of our own! That is one thing we can certainly learn from America!

  3. Adam, you have hit the nail on the head here. Feedback is a negotiable thing. If they give it here in Europe then it is actually a sign that they like you, most likely personally, but the chances are that it also means that they are not going to buy from you either. It is almost tonal, in that you have to understand the tone of how they give it – including which medium has been used (phone, face-to-face or email) – in order to gauge whether it is worthwhile pursuing whatever it is you are intending to achieve with your presentation.

    I think the thing in Europe is that you have to have spent a lot more time in building relationships beforehand, and perhaps have that independent feedback loop. I feel it is more about cabals here, and less about open and honest direct trading like it is in the U.S. – but that is why I have set up the group I have with a view to giving and getting the feedback as much as information generally on what is important to the freelancer/interim manager market here, and how to operate independently in it.

  4. […] why vendors find it so hard to develop the right messages. You may like to check this recent blog post by Adam Deane and the resulting comments to understand the difficulties vendors can face when they […]

  5. Adam, I’ve highlighted some additional “cultural” differences in this blogpost:

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