Narrowing pipelines and longer sales cycles have made the current sales environment in APAC more challenging.

Our 2024 Sales Maturity Survey gathered insights from 280 leading sales organizations globally to understand the breadth and depth of sales performance and transformation. The survey results showed that generating enough qualified leads is one of APAC sales organizations’ top challenges for 2024. They’re also struggling with sales team talent gaps.

This comes as no surprise to Adam Thorp, Senior Partner, APAC Practice Leader, Sales Effectiveness and Transformation at Korn Ferry. He says sales is now very much “a last-mile activity”.

“The way customers buy has significantly changed and continues to evolve,” he says. “Sales teams don't know they're in a sales cycle until the very end, when a client reaches out. This requires a different level of skills and capabilities, and those are hard to find.”

Despite these challenges, 86% of best-in-class companies achieved or exceeded their full-year quota for 2023. The same is true for only 52% of those in APAC organizations.

So, what are they doing differently? Here are four practices that set top performers apart.

1 Understand the evolving buyer journey

Top sales organizations are four times more likely than their APAC peers to have clearly defined their customers’ buying stages and activities.

“A buying process is not linear—it's more like a bowl of spaghetti,” explains Thorp.

“You have to understand where blockages might be and adjust sales activities accordingly. We’re seeing those who adopt more dynamic sales process practices that enable moving out of traditional swim lanes achieve higher win rates and lower customer churn.”

Dynamic sales organizations use analytics to continually adjust their activities and make sure they align closely with changing customer journeys. And those that follow a dynamic sales process see 25% higher win rates, 11% quota achievement rates and 26% less customer churn, compared with random/informal processes.

2 Become a trusted partner

Top-performing sales professionals build strong relationships and are more likely to be seen as strategic or trusted partners.

Nearly a quarter of best-in-class organizations were considered "strategic partners" in our research. And our data shows that those who are seen as trusted partners realize significant gains—including 48% higher quota attainment and 25% higher win rates than approved vendors.

Forging strategic partnerships comes down to having the right competencies and traits in your teams. 

“Trusted partners are curious. They focus on client outcomes, they’re responsive, and they take clients on a journey. And they deliver on their promises,” explains Thorp.

Best-in-class organizations realize the importance of working with customer service. Sixty-six percent say their sales and customer service teams collaborate to support customers over the course of an account relationship.

“Where we see the strongest performance in APAC, customer service teams are engaged very early in the sales process. Because they are involved in early conversations, they understand the customer—rather than receiving a blind handover,” Thorp observes. “The customer experience starts with the sales cycle”.

3 Align compensation with strategy

There is a clear disconnect between APAC organizations’ sales strategies and their compensation plans. Only 21% have effectively aligned their compensation with their sales strategy, compared with 62% of best-in-class companies.

“Your strategy might focus on selling solutions or integrated packages. But if your sales team is compensated on product sales, that’s what they’ll focus on. They’re not incentivized to look at the client’s potential to purchase other services,” Thorp explains.

Compensation is high on the APAC agenda. Thorp says he’s seeing a growing number of organizations rethink their sales compensation packages and performance metrics.

“For example, commission structures might look at how people sell, as well as revenue. We’re seeing a shift to non-traditional metrics including adoption of sales approaches and collaboration. And measuring these helps drive desired behaviors.”

Thorp says high-performing organizations are also tying their incentives to margin instead of revenue, which can lift gross profit on deals. And they’re using seller, product, and market performance analysis to measure the effectiveness of incentive plans.

“Incentive programs are expensive. But when you get it right, you can increase margins, drive the right behaviors, attract the right people and reduce staff turnover.”

Sales Effectiveness

Breakthrough to immediate, predictable and sustainable sales effectiveness

4 Invest in coaching to fill capability gaps

Tighter budgets and longer sales cycles have led to a challenging sales climate in APAC. This environment requires a particular type of salesperson—one who’s strategic, commercially-minded, proactive, and takes a consultative approach.

They need to be able to demonstrate ‘perspective selling’. Thorp defines this as the ability to have customer-centric conversations, assess buyer needs, and find alignment between what customers want and what sellers are presenting.

When adopted across sales organizations, perspective selling is linked to 16% higher quota attainment and 22% higher win-rates. 

However, just 5% of APAC sellers have these perspective-selling skills, according to our sales maturity survey. That’s why almost half (44%) of APAC organizations are prioritizing capability development as a top sales strategy. And those turning to sales coaching are seeing clear benefits.

Sales organizations that adopt dynamic coaching are twice as likely to demonstrate perspective selling—and reap its benefits—as those with random coaching processes in place.


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Levels of Coaching Maturity


  • No coaching processes
  • Coaching frequency dependent on individual sales leaders
  • Coaching effectiveness dependent on individual sales leaders
  • Coaching occurs reactively in response to situations


  • Coaching processes exist but are not consistently applied
  • Coaching frequency dependent on individual sales leaders
  • Coaching effectiveness dependent on individual sales leaders
  • Coaching occurs reactively in response to situations


  • Coaching processes are defined, implemented, and consistently applied
  • Sales leaders are expected to regularly use coaching processes
  • Sales leaders have been trained in the effective use of coaching processes
  • Coaching is embedded in workflow and activities


  • Coaching processes are defined, implemented, and consistently applied
  • Sales leaders are expected to use coaching processes with defined frequency
  • Sales leaders have been trained in the effective use of coaching processes
  • Coaching processes are embedded in workflow, activities, and culture, and are supported by continuous improvement and an enablement framework
  • Sales leaders are measured and incentivized based on the impact of their coaching

“The best coaching practices we see start with a strong leader who understands when to coach, how to coach, and tailors their approach to every individual,” Thorp observes.

Those leaders also understand their sales teams’ success profiles and adopt robust assessment and observation practices. 

Navigating the new sales landscape

The way customers buy has changed and will continue to evolve. And so has the role of sales in supporting them on that journey.

With narrowing pipelines, longer sales cycles and tighter budgets, it’s essential to position sales as a trusted partner in the process. Strategically aligned compensation plans will help you attract and retain the right type of salesperson. And when these are hard to find, dynamic coaching can help your current sales teams develop the consultative approach it takes to build lasting partnerships.

Coach your way to success

Today’s sales environment is challenging. When centered around a robust process, sales coaching can boost performance and engagement and drive growth. 

Download our ebook to find out how.