“I like to skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” Steve Jobs drew inspiration from Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote while leading Apple. This mindset, driven by ambition, vision and a steadfast willingness to explore new opportunities, plays a pivotal role in the sustained success of the world’s most innovative companies. For B2B SaaS startups in the UK, France, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe, expanding their footprint beyond familiar territories holds immense potential. One region that has been gaining significant attention is Southeast Asia.

With its burgeoning economies, tech-savvy population, and increasing digitalisation, Southeast Asia has become a hugely promising market for businesses seeking growth and expansion. However, navigating the complexities of a new market can be daunting – especially when it’s such a diverse and fragmented marketplace of over 650 million people. Moreover, with limited budgets and resources, it is challenging to establish comprehensive sales machinery to take advantage of opportunities in this new and unfamiliar market.

This article explores how a Sales-as-a-Service solution with fractional specialist support can empower European B2B SaaS companies to enter and conquer Southeast Asia with ease. We’ll discuss how this approach provides several advantages for startups in terms of flexibility, cost-effectiveness and expertise.

IT spending growth in Southeast Asia

Compared to Europe, Southeast Asia’s economies have rebounded more quickly from Covid-19, and the overall outlook is increasingly bright. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are all expected to hit over 5% GDP growth in 2023 and 2024. Contrast that to the EU, where GDP growth is forecast to be well below 1% this year.

With Southeast Asia’s digital economy witnessing a remarkable surge, achieving a staggering 20% year-on-year growth in 2022 and nearing a US$200 billion GMV milestone, organisations are increasingly prioritising investments in digital transformation initiatives. Cloud computing, data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity have taken centre stage as businesses strive to adapt and thrive in this fast-evolving landscape. As companies expand their operations, the need for robust IT infrastructure, advanced software systems and innovative technology solutions becomes imperative. Notably, research conducted by Technavio forecasts a steady 7.78% year-on-year growth in IT spending in Southeast Asia from 2022 to 2026. The accelerating adoption of mobility solutions in the region is a major driver of this growth, according to Technavio’s analysis.

Indonesia is poised to take the lead in overall IT spending, not just within Southeast Asia but across the entire Asia-Pacific region, with projections indicating it will reach an impressive US$6 billion by 2024. Thailand, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, is also experiencing robust growth in software spending, soaring by 20.1% year-over-year in the first half of 2022. According to Statista, Thailand’s IT services market revenue is expected to reach US$2.23 billion in 2023. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s commitment to digital transformation is gaining momentum through its “National Digital Transformation Program to 2025, with orientation to 2030″. The country’s SaaS market already exceeded US$153 million in 2022 and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 25.48% from 2018 to 2028.

How Sales-as-a-Service with fractional specialist support unlocks growth

It is crucial to acknowledge that despite the opportunities, Southeast Asia also presents its own unique challenges. When it comes to business development, European startups can choose a direct approach, but it requires substantial investments in resources, infrastructure and market entry strategies. Conducting thorough market research, adapting strategies to fit the local context, and establishing strong local partnerships take time and expert knowledge to succeed in this complex, fragmented region.

Now, let’s delve into the advantages of Sales-as-a-Service with fractional specialist support in unlocking growth opportunities in Southeast Asia.

  • Cost Optimisation: When you enter a new region, you cannot start with 10 specialists from day one. Sales-as-a-Service gives startups access to comprehensive sales machinery featuring fractional support on request from specialised professionals proficient in various aspects of sales and business development, such as sales operations, partner management, RFP management, research and sales development, combined with dedicated SDRs and AEs. This turnkey approach offers a broader spectrum of capabilities and knowledge that can be dedicated to specific projects where needed on demand without founders having to hire them full-time.
  • Flexibility and Scalability: Sales-as-a-Service with fractional specialist support offers the flexibility to scale up or down according to the needs of the business. For instance, a startup can engage a specialist to support RFP submissions or improve demand generation when needed. This adaptability is valuable during uncertain economic conditions, enabling companies to respond swiftly to changing market dynamics. In contrast, hiring a single sales director might limit a company’s ability to quickly adapt or expand sales operations without additional recruitment.
  • Expertise and Network: Sales-as-a-Service with fractional specialist support delivers extensive experience, industry knowledge and a network of contacts that can significantly enhance a startup’s prospects when entering Southeast Asia. For instance, AccelerAsia’s team has been operating in the Asia-Pacific region since 2010, advising over 70 global startups across various sectors. By leveraging the fractional support of professionals with specific regional knowledge or sector connections, European B2B SaaS startups can enhance their market entry strategies and increase their chances of success.

In summary, despite economic challenges in Europe, Southeast Asia presents a promising new market for B2B SaaS startups. Opting for Sales-as-a-Service with fractional specialist support offers a powerful solution for companies seeking to tap into the region’s vast potential. It provides a competitive edge and opens doors to valuable partnerships in this burgeoning market.

Like to discuss the exciting opportunities in Southeast Asia? Chat with our team today.

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