Our previous article on outsourcing sales in Asia Pacific explored the challenges SaaS startup founders from the US, Europe, and Israel encounter when expanding their businesses in overseas markets. One of the biggest obstacles they face is scaling sales beyond a certain point while relying solely on their own efforts.
However, in this article, we’ll dive deeper into how founders can move past these challenges and propel their startups to the next level of growth. Specifically, we’ll focus on building a sales strategy that identifies real opportunities to create a predictable pipeline – a crucial aspect of sales success for any business.
One of the main issues with founder-led sales is the lack of knowledge distribution and too much centralisation – all the critical product information remains locked in the founder’s head. When this happens, it can be challenging to maintain consistency in decision-making and execution; different sales team members may have different interpretations of what the founder wants, leading to confusion, mistakes and delays.
That’s where AccelerAsia’s experience comes in. We’ve helped over 60 global B2B SaaS companies grow successfully in Asia Pacific with our Sales as a Service solution, developing highly-effective strategies for driving growth in the region.
The first step in our process is the Sales Review. We audit your company’s current pipeline and objectively analyse your existing sales setup, deal pipeline, qualification strategies, and reporting.
Next, we focus on the Sales Structure. We recommend and put in place standardised sales gating processes company-wide, CRM processes, and enable your sales team to accurately report on their sales. This creates a clearer sales structure, stronger messaging per persona, and stricter qualification criteria, ultimately leading to improved Sales Performance. This enables your company to scale and transition from a founder-led to an enterprise sales strategy.
Do’s and Don’ts of Sales Gating
Getting the right sales gating process right is crucial – it provides clear checkpoints that the sales team must pass through before advancing to the next stage of the sales cycle.
- Design all the steps before moving to the next phase. You must define clear criteria for each stage, establishing precise goals to ensure the sales team moves leads through the pipeline based on objective measurements of engagement, readiness to buy, and other relevant factors.
- Set up the sales team the right way, clearly differentiating roles. The success of the sales gating strategy depends on the coordinated efforts of each team member. If any member is unclear about their role or fails to stick to their responsibilities, it can lead to confusion, inefficiency, and, ultimately, a failure to meet sales targets. For example, Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are responsible for generating high-quality leads, so it’s essential to have team members skilled in lead generation who can effectively qualify leads. Account Executives (AEs), on the other hand, need excellent communication and relationship-building skills to convert leads into paying customers.
- Create a sales playbook to keep your team aligned. A sales playbook is a document that outlines the sales process, best practices, and key information your sales team needs to know to execute the sales gating strategy effectively. AccelerAsia interviews the founder to capture and document their wealth of knowledge and experience in the playbook, including critical insights about the company’s target customers, sales process, and unique value proposition.
- Adapt the sales gating process to local market conditions. Southeast Asia has unique cultural and business practices that may require companies to adjust their sales gating approach accordingly. For example, in some markets, building personal relationships is vital to securing a deal, while formal presentations and proposals are more important in others.
- Leverage technology to streamline the process. The sales gating process can be complex and time-consuming, especially when dealing with a high volume of leads. Consider leveraging technology solutions such as CRM systems, lead-scoring algorithms, and sales automation tools. AccelerAsia combines a best-in-class tech stack to enhance the end-to-end sales process and maximise efficiency.
- Regularly review and update the sales gating process. Continuously monitor and refine the sales gating process to reflect changes in the market, competitive landscape, or company strategy.
- Train and support the sales team. Provide the sales team with the training and resources they need to effectively use the sales gating process, including coaching, feedback, and tools to automate and streamline the process.
- Assume a one-size-fits-all approach. Each market in Southeast Asia is unique, and what works in one market may not work in another. Companies should avoid assuming that a one-size-fits-all approach will work and instead should take the time to tailor their sales gating process to local market conditions.
- Neglect cultural sensitivity. Cultural differences can play a significant role in business transactions in Southeast Asia. Companies should be mindful of local customs, etiquette, and norms and train their sales team to be culturally sensitive.
- Overlook regulatory compliance. Southeast Asia has complex regulatory environments, and companies should ensure that their sales gating process complies with local laws and regulations. This includes data privacy, anti-corruption laws, and product compliance.
- Make the process too rigid. While it’s important to have a structured process, it’s also important to remain flexible and adaptable. Each market in Southeast Asia is different and demands a unique approach. Create a flexible process which avoids stifling creativity and prevents the sales team from responding to individual customer needs and circumstances.
- Focus solely on meeting quotas. While the sales gating process can be an effective way to ensure that the sales team is meeting targets, it should not be used solely as a means to hit quotas. Concentrate on driving long-term growth and customer success, not just short-term wins.
- Overcomplicate the process. Keep the sales gating process simple and straightforward. Overcomplicating the process with too many stages or criteria can confuse the sales team and make it more challenging to execute effectively.
By implementing a standardised sales process and addressing the challenges of founder-led sales, SaaS companies can break through the ceiling and achieve the next level of success in Southeast Asia.