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Outline your company's Asia Sales strategy in one simple, coherent plan

Download this template and build your sales plan for the Asia region. Make it simple for your team, direct reports, and execs to understand what your goals are, how you'll accomplish them, and any support you'll need.

Chapter 3

Why and How You Need to Segment Your Sales Strategy in Asia

Sales in Asia: A Framework

Nailing Your Segmentation Strategy in Asia

Asia is a vast and diverse region, both geographically and culturally, presenting businesses with immense opportunities. For instance, Southeast Asia alone consists of 11 countries at varying levels of market maturity, while China and India stand out as distinct entities within the region. Moreover, while certain parts of Asia boast mature economies, others are growing rapidly and leapfrogging several stages of technology adoption. 

Attempting a one-size-fits-all strategy across the entire region is ineffective. The geographic and cultural diversity throughout Asia necessitates a clear and strategic segmentation approach. This empowers sales leaders to prioritize markets and customer segments, effectively allocating limited resources for optimal results. By understanding the nuances of each market and tailoring sales strategies accordingly, businesses can unlock the true potential of their sales efforts in Asia.


In Asia, SMBs Reign Supreme — Here’s How to Win Them Over

96% of businesses in Asia are SMBs, so perfecting the art of selling to small and medium businesses is crucial for success. Sanjiv Razdan, Global Head of SME business and B2B commercial payments at Nium, shared some crucial insights on targeting in Asia on the Asia Growth Forecast podcast.

Small + Medium B2Bs in Asia Behave More Like Consumers

B2B sales in Asia is more relationship-driven than in other international markets.

“Never sell — make them buy. The difference between selling to an SME versus an enterprise is that in enterprise sales you make them decide. The decision making process involves aligning multiple stakeholders within the company. You have to understand each individual stakeholder’s goals, be prepared to handle any objections, and influence them towards a common goal. SMEs on the other hand often behave like an extension of the consumer. It’s more of a buying decision. Similar to a consumer, the decision maker in an SMB wants to quickly and clearly understand why they should deal with you versus someone else. ” Sanjiv said.Sanjiv_Asia Sales Guide

Connect with SMBs by Bringing Value to Every Conversation

At 75% of small businesses (with 2-25 FTEs) and 39% of midsized businesses (with 26-100 FTEs), the business owner or CFO researches new tech products and services themselves, — so it’s up to sales reps to bring additional value to every conversation. Provide tailored use cases, and show knowledge and support they can’t get anywhere else. 

Show Impact and Price Thoughtfully 

SMEs typically need their investments to show ROI more quickly when compared to their counterparts in larger enterprises. As a seller, it is essential that you clearly demonstrate how your product will quickly bring that value in the short-medium term. 

It’s a myth that SMEs always go for the cheapest option: many will opt for the solution that’s simplest to implement and train staff on, that can let them start generating value quicker, and prevent costly issues down the line. Instead of deeply discounting, show that your product has easy implementation, and quick ROI. 

To learn more from Sanjiv’s expertise, listen to Cracking the Code of SMB Sales in Asia with Sanjiv Razdan of Nium. 

Understand the Nuances of High-Growth Markets in Asia and Build Localised Sales Playbooks

It wasn’t long ago that teams had to open offices and get their feet on the ground in new markets, but the power of technology makes global and regional expansion much more efficient. 

Today, it’s possible to test new waters from the comfort of your HQ. Sales leaders can tap into technologies built to facilitate global expansion and craft international sales strategies for specific regions, find local partners on the ground, and start selling to local businesses in and across Asia.

There are three core business regions with the largest economies in Asia. Here’s what you need to know about each market in Asia when crafting a regional sales strategy, plus Asia business insights from leaders on the Asia Growth Forecast podcast.SEA2

Southeast Asia (SEA) 

Although SEA is commonly grouped together as one region, in reality, it consists of 11 markets with varying degrees of market maturity, different laws, currencies, border restrictions, and regulations. Thomas Jeng, Singapore GM at Aspire, shared that sales leaders have to approach segmentation in Southeast Asia precisely and thoughtfully.

Don’t assume you have a product-market fit everywhere. “What works in Singapore may not work in Malaysia or the Philippines: research the nuances of each market. Prioritise the ones with the strongest product-market fit, and the strongest local ties for your business, and start there with a tailored approach.” 

For example, Jeng shared that Aspire uses a 2x2 framework to prioritise new initiatives. “Plot on a two by two axis where any given additional market niche will sit. Then assess what resources and changes you need to access that segment. Use the 2x2 framework to look at the market opportunity, too — what do those ‘bubbles’ on the map look like and are there larger bubbles worth investing in?”. 

In a region as complex and diverse as SEA, thorough segmentation and targeting not only drives increased success, it's necessary to reach your core audience. Singapore is one of Aspire’s core markets, and they typically serve two types of customers, each needing different GTM motions: locally based businesses reached by in-person meetings, field marketing efforts, and after-work events, and offshore businesses coming to Singapore, which are best served by inbound marketing, digital marketing, and partners. 

Thomas further shares that in SEA, the size of businesses is different from other global markets: A large SEA-based business might be equivalent to a mid-sized or even small business by US standards, and for that reason, businesses in SEA are often less willing to pay for enterprise software. 

To learn more about selling in SEA, listen to How to Sell Across Diverse Markets in Southeast Asia with Thomas Jeng of Aspire.

Madison Asia Sales Guide-3

Alongside a government push to help SMBs in Singapore go digital, with resources and grants to get more businesses online, SMEs across Southeast Asia are predicted to spend over $173B on technology (growing 70%) over the next three years.


India is one of the most populous countries in the world, with a promising economic trajectory. As a consequence, global brands are looking to expand there with a local market presence and local partners. Plus, local companies are growing and establishing themselves in this fast-growing market — and they need the right tech to be able to do so effectively. Addy Asia Sales Guide

India as a whole is an emerging market, but one that’s poised for hypergrowth. In response to growing opportunities in the region, global brands are looking to expand to India, often by blending on the ground market presence and establishing local partnerships. On top of this, homegrown Indian brands are swiftly growing and establishing themselves in this fast-growing market — and they need the right technology and processes in place to scale effectively. 

To Grow Locally in India — Go Mobile-First

One of the defining characteristics of doing business in India is that the country is heavily mobile-first — even in rural areas. In India, the digital divide between rural areas and major cities is rapidly closing, with the country reporting more internet users in rural areas than in cities for the first time in 2020. Mobile app usage is ever-expanding across the country, and companies have adapted to reach Indian users where they are: on their phones. 

With over 500 million users in India, WhatsApp is a prominent channel for consumers to communicate with each other and with brands. Brands need to be where their potential customers are, and ensure reps are enabled to use the dominant messaging platform in a given region, like WhatsApp. 

Experiment with Flexible Pricing

“Most international brands approach India with a framework that has worked for them in other emerging markets, like LATAM or SEA, and they are very quickly proven wrong. India's huge middle class provides an enormous volume of SMEs for B2B companies to tap into. However, India is a price sensitive market and pricing strategy plays a huge role for brands looking to succeed in India — and companies can’t be rigid about it,” shared Adarsh Noronha, Country Director of India and SAARC for HubSpot. 

7 tips for selling into India from Adarsh Noronha

  • Be aware of local regulatory guidelines
  • Try pilots and experiments, listen to the market, then tweak your strategies
  • It’s a myth that foreigners or outsiders can’t sell into India — it’s by and large an English-speaking market, especially for SaaS products
  • Lead by data and show clear numbers on why they should buy from you
  • Set yourself up for the long haul — it’s unlikely that businesses will see overnight success
  • Optimise sales templates for each sub-region and maximise your existing resources and proof points when following up with prospects
  • Leverage the latest sales technology like CRMs, sales automation tools, and AI-powered sales tools to build “consulting” relationships with savvy SMBs


China and North Asia 

The North Asia region, especially China, has attracted the interest of a number of global businesses seeking to capitalize on the region’s fast growing economy and enormous total addressable market (TAM). The region has also witnessed the rise of strong local brands that have experienced exponential growth in the region and are now looking to expand to international markets. 

However, operating in this region comes with unique challenges including the Great Firewall, strict regulations, language barriers, and many more.

China and North Asia also do business differently than many other regions, on local platforms (like WeChat — which reaches 80% of the Chinese population), and with different norms (such as favouring face-to-face interaction and deeper relationship-building over video calls). A thoughtful localised approach is key to succeeding in this region.

For sales leaders at brands looking to expand into North Asia for the first time

First, take stock of the limitations. Then, try to determine if there’s strong enough product-market fit to make tackling the hurdles worth it. Brands can use technology like product demos, video calls, and live chat to help test out a new market without significant resources or investment in a physical office space. 

When trying to maximise existing resources, sales leaders need to be strategic and avoid using existing templates and documents for Asia that they’ve used in other regions without a thorough review from a contact in-region.

For sales leaders at local Chinese companies looking to expand globally or even across Asia

In China and North Asia, local businesses are rapidly scaling to serve their own communities and expand around the world. As businesses in the region look to expand locally or internationally, they’ll need new marketing, sales, and customer support resources. 

For both businesses coming into the region for the first time, or businesses expanding outward for the first time, partnerships are a proven way to streamline awareness and product adoption.

4 Tips for Selling into North Asia from Madison Carmody

    • Tap into the power of technology for global expansion and test the waters in a new market before investing heavily
    • Prioritise local partnerships and on-the-ground efforts as you expand your marketing and sales internationally
    • Take the time to build rapport with prospects and understand how they prefer to communicate
    • Be prepared to back every claim up with local testimonials

Outline your Asia Sales Strategy with Our Template

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