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How we landed a BIG US customer

Updated: Apr 9

By Emma Rhoads, Insights and Tech Writing Specialist, WLB USA - March 2024



Emma with her prize bass!

Feeling somewhat distant from customers is inevitable with international projects, but that feeling never lasts long.

 

Sure, we spend hours doing mental gymnastics about time zones...and you fight off jealousy of each other’s opposite weather...


But more than that, our international customers remind us how small the world is.


Our latest US project with Rain for Rent demonstrated this over and over again.


 

Swapping photos with Brian of the current situations in NZ and the US

 

We'd completed a Depth Sounder with the awesome RedBull Powder team. One of their Non-executive Directors advises to a BIG (for NZ standards anyway) US company called Rain for Rent, who has a Kiwi CEO. He was so impressed with our work, he recommended they use us too.


So we were asked to pitch for the project against one of the biggest market research companies in the US…and we lost.


It was definitely the right decision, and we were just stoked to have a go as we learnt a huge amount in the process.


Ange, Tracy and the RedBull Powder team at the Maramarua firestation.

But luckily, our reputation meant we kept popping up and they decided to use us AS WELL. That was an exciting day.


It was perfect timing as I had just moved back to the US. I was working mobile while road-tripping along the California coast in search of a new home. In typical WLB fashion, many customer calls were made while on the road. 

 

I may be spilling a WLB secret writing this, although I don’t think anyone will be surprised. Our team is known for making our calls in the wildest of places. It could be sitting on the coast after a quick spearfish, on a ski break up in the mountains, or in our car in front of the coffee shop we’re working from. We have the training and the tools to ensure we are ‘in the zone’ for every call, so it doesn’t matter where we are.



Ange and Tracy spent a huge amount of time and energy training us in the interview process.

During one call, I found myself in the parking lot of a gas station helping to break up a 5-hour drive and realised I was only minutes from the Rain for Rent headquarters.


Here I was, making a call for my NZ employer, while sitting only minutes away from the US customers headquarters. Amazing!

 

A few weeks later, I settled into a cosy little town (California small, not NZ small) on California's central coast. During one of our Zoom calls, I filled in Brian, Rain for Rent's Director of Marketing (and our caring and fun key point of contact) about my move. He chuckled and shared that it's where his Mom resides. He's quite familiar with the area, having spent a good chunk of his life there!

 

The world felt even smaller! This international project we started from Raglan, New Zealand was now in my backyard. Brian had spent his life walking the same sand dunes that I walk every day. 


The dunes of Montana de Oro State Park are minutes from Brian’s Mom’s house (and mine).

Feeling connected to the teams we work with beyond the project is essential. It’s easy to get to know a team when we’re doing the workshops but doing so with an entire ocean and a few screens between can feel different.

 

If you’re reading this, you likely know we’re pretty good at breaking down the walls between people. And on international projects, it’s the 'wall of Zoom' that we're able to bulldoze pretty well to make everyone feel comfortable and connected.

 

Oh, and Brian…if you’re reading this, let your Mom know she’s welcome for a cuppa anytime!.


PS - I ran this blog past Brian for his signoff and his response encapsulates how aligned we all are, he said:


"I love everything about it! Nice to know we hired people, not spreadsheets to help us understand our customers better!".

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