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“I can't stress enough how those first few hires just dictate the trajectory of where the business is going, and the culture you build within the organisation.”

Chapter 5

Building Effective Sales Teams

Sales in Asia: A Framework

Building and Scaling Effective Sales Teams for Every Stage of Growth


There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building a sales function, and this is especially true when doing so in a region as diverse and complex as Asia.

However, in the Asia Growth Forecast episode on Scaling SaaS Teams in Asia with Scott Pugh of Figma, we learned what sales leaders can keep in mind to build a successful sales team in this region.Scott - Asia Sales Guide - Quote

What to Prioritise at Different Stages of Building a Sales Function

Building a sales team in Asia involves focusing on different must-haves at different points. Here’s what to consider at each stage.

Building a Collaborative Sales Team Culture

The most effective sales teams are just that — teams. But establishing a positive sales culture is challenging. Here’s how successful teams who have grown in Asia have done it.

To build a strong, inclusive sales team culture:

  • Keep your team excited about collective goals and the company mission. 
  • Prioritise a diverse team with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds.
  • Invest in enablement and tools that support enablement.
  • “Align teams around your culture, values, and vision, and make sure everybody knows the bigger picture,” Scott Pugh shared. “Be aware of who’s on your team and let their passion come out.”
  • Leadership sets the tone — make sure your leaders and executive team are living the values you want your team to embody.
  • Hire team players and invest in emotionally intelligent team members.
  • “We recognize people based on our culture and values every quarter,” Scott added.

Early in Team Building

Focus on behavioural traits. These are the people who will build the foundation of your company in a new region, and they will dictate the culture of the team you build. Choose wisely, and know you can train a rep to sell well, but it’s hard to train a person to be an exceptional teammate.MRR2_Asia

Key Attributes for Effective Sales Teams

According to Scott, there are three important things to keep in mind when making the first hires on a sales team in Asia. 

  • Do they show the potential for leadership? If I were a sales rep, would I want to report to them?
  • Are they a self-starter with an entrepreneurial mindset and intellectual curiosity? Can they handle the ambiguity of a scrappy, early-stage team testing a new market?
  • Are they kind and emotionally intelligent? Scott suggests avoiding top performers if they’re not team players. “They really damage the culture of the team,” he shared.

In the Early Years of Scaling

Once you have a strong sales team full of reps, managers, and leaders that lay the foundation for a supportive culture, it’s time to optimise for specific regional sales strategy requirements. Hire people with the language skills you need in each region, with local connections, and with local cultural insight to each place. 

Once Hiring is Stable

Invest deeply in onboarding, training, and sales team enablement. By providing resources and support, reps can learn independently while knowing they can always ask for help — and teach one another. 

Going Forward: Maintain the Culture and Go Beyond Quota

Keep your team excited about collective goals and the company mission. Always show the impact of the team’s work by praising publicly and correcting privately.