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How To Build A Strong Sales Team In Asia

by Alex Yelenevych , February 7, 2023

Expanding to a new market is always challenging, especially if the local culture differs from your native country’s. My company comes from Ukraine, and we’ve been operating in European and American markets for many years. Still, it didn’t prepare us for all the surprises waiting for us in India. Yet, we managed to build a thriving local sales team. Here are our lessons learned.

A product-market fit is a must. So, do your homework first: ask yourself, is there a demand for your product? Conduct market research to find that out. Start small: for example, create a trial version of your product (we launched a 3-month course first instead of a 12-month one to check the demand). It will give you plenty of user feedback.

Local sales managers know your potential customers better. Thus, don’t hesitate to start the hiring process. At least local professionals speak the same language and are aware of cultural peculiarities. For instance, people value personal trust in India and gaining it is difficult for a foreigner. Also, local sales managers know what techniques work better, so you won’t waste time figuring it out.

Don’t just rely on the sales team, learn cultural features yourself. Otherwise, you may get in trouble without even understanding why. For example, people in India often value personal relationships more than “international expertise”, “global reputation”, or other things essential for Western people. For Indians, close relatives and friends are the best experts. That’s why sometimes a sales manager has to talk to a customer’s relative to close the deal. You need to understand these nuances if you want to be successful in Asia.

After closing a deal, you must accept a payment. Yet, Asian payment systems and people’s financial habits can be tricky. For example, customers rarely pay with credit cards when buying online in China. And in India, people often pay in installments. Your sales will grow if you know that and provide your clients with various options.

Polish your business processes sooner rather than later. To do that, take into account local specifics and statistics. For example, in an Indian edtech company, a sales manager should process 100 to 200 leads per day, and 20 to 40 should be active calls longer than 4 minutes. Also, a manager should process an application within 50 minutes not to lose a potential customer. Find out what numbers are typical for your industry and use this information.

Decide on the motivational system. In Asia, sales managers usually get 70% commission + 30% base or 70% base + 30% commission, although it’s not the rule. You may have to try a few models and choose the best one for your company.

If you want to succeed, never stop experimenting and learning. Search for things to improve, devise new ideas and test them, and continue working to increase your clients’ satisfaction.

For example, polish your business processes to be in line with local practices in your industry.