The COVID-19 pandemic and shifting customer needs have transformed the sales environment in Asia. 

To learn more about what’s changing and how sales leaders are responding, Salesforce surveyed 600 sales professionals across ASEAN. These findings were captured in the 2020 Salesforce Trends in ASEAN Sales report.

In summary, the report reveals that digital transformation is rapidly accelerating throughout the region. Tools like Sales Cloud give sales leaders deeper insights into customers and enable more meaningful conversations.

Sales leaders are also focusing on reskilling existing sales reps to succeed in a remote selling environment. They use sales automation to gain better visibility into remote selling.

At the same time, the sales operations role is undergoing a strategic shift to provide more support for sales leaders who are eager to optimise sales processes.


1. Turning insights into closed deals

To build trust in the new normal, high-performing sales reps must become trusted advisors to customers.

Therefore, sales leaders must connect reps with the deep insights they need. This will help sales reps to anticipate customer needs and build consultative relationships.

For example, according to the Salesforce Trends in ASEAN Sales report, more than 90% of high-performing ASEAN sales reps monitor customer purchase history, customer communication history, and competitor activity at least weekly.

Speaking in The New State of Sales webinar, Carol Fong, Regional VP, Commercial Sales at Salesforce, said sales leaders can use these insights to drive more relevant conversations with customers.

“You can use the customer’s transaction or procurement history to identify how sales reps can be more proactive when reaching out to customers,” she said. “Those conversations will be more meaningful to your customers.”


2. Reskilling to support shifting business needs

The Salesforce Trends in ASEAN Sales report reveals that 82% of ASEAN sales leaders plan to meet changed staffing needs by reskilling existing employees. Just 57% plan to meet these needs by hiring. 

“They have to because the world has changed,” Tom Abbott, Sales Optimisation Expert and Keynote Speaker, SOCO/ Sales Training said during The New State of Sales webinar. “We need to give our reps the tools they need to sell in this new environment. Don’t think about how to survive the next six months. Think about how to succeed for the next six years.” 

Some tools that would be useful for sales reps to learn are customer relationship management (CRM) software and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.


3. Improving visibility as selling goes remote

Sales leaders need more visibility into sales activities in order to effectively manage remote teams. 

However, this comes with a greater administrative burden. The frequency and length of pipeline management meetings is increasing . The enforcement of activity logging also reduces selling time. 

According to the Salesforce Trends in ASEAN Sales report, 61% of ASEAN sales organisations say AI has made major improvements to visibility into rep activity.

Fong says sales leaders must give sales reps autonomy while maintaining visibility into their activities. 

“The sales cycle is becoming longer as customers need more hand-holding. We need to give our sales teams the tools they need to manage this,” she said. “At Salesforce, for example, we’ve noticed our high performers will typically automate tedious tasks. They’ll also likely have a lead priority system at their fingertips so they know where to focus their time.”


4. Rethinking the role of sales operations

The sales operations role has traditionally been responsible for optimising sales processes and systems. Now,  sales leaders expect more strategy-based inputs.

The Salesforce Trends in ASEAN Sales report reveals that 95% of ASEAN sales professionals say that sales operations is becoming an increasingly strategic role.

Abbott believes this is a move in the right direction. “Gone are the days when you could have a lone wolf sales rep out there running the show themselves,” he said. “We have to work as a team, and sales leaders are looking to sales ops to support them in the sales process.”  


5. Accelerating digital transformation

Digital transformation is essentially the framework that supports the overall pivot to remote selling. 

ASEAN businesses clearly understand this. According to the Salesforce Trends in ASEAN Sales report, 91% of salespeople say their digital transformation has accelerated since 2019. 

High-performing sales leaders are turning to AI, mobile sales apps, and sales process automation to bring the value of digital transformation to ASEAN sales teams.

However, Abbot says that digital transformation can begin with a simple CRM automation: “ For example, instead of a leave-behind brochure after a physical customer visit, now you’re emailing that brochure. Or you’re automating that email through your CRM to stay on top of your business opportunity.”


Turning crisis into opportunity

Sales leaders across ASEAN are accelerating digital transformation to build more proactive customer relationships and improve visibility into sales activities. They are also turning to sales operations for more strategic support and are reskilling reps to better leverage new technologies.

But Fong reminds us that digital transformation isn’t just about technology. “It’s also about your organisational structure and your people,” she said. “When there is a crisis there is always an opportunity. But whether you grasp the opportunity depends on how you pivot and change to reshape your team.” 


To learn more about how sales teams in ASEAN are staying on top on their game, click the thumbnail below to view our infographic summary of the Salesforce Trends in ASEAN Sales report: