Interview with Takeshi Kasagawa, Executive of PayPay Sales
Interview with PayPay Leaders is a series of interviews with PayPay top executives showcasing their personalities and perspectives. Takeshi Kasagawa, Corporate Officer & Group Head of the Sales Group, is featured in this installment.
Corporate Officer & Group Head, Sales Group
After graduating from college, he spent about eight years at a used car auction company, where he was involved in auction operations and launching new businesses such as retail franchising. After quitting his job to pursue his dream and a period of taking on a new challenge, he moved to then SoftBank BB. He then worked for SoftBank Mobile for 14 years before joining PayPay in early 2018. He is a rugby player and his children are in junior high and high school.
What is the Group’s organizational structure and features?
First of all, we have the East Japan and West Japan Sales Divisions, with a total of 22 sales offices throughout Japan. This is the largest organization within PayPay, with more than 30 teams, and thousands of salespeople. They are what we call the “PayPay sales force,” whose main task is to meet with and attend to the needs of privately-owned stores in the community.
The Enterprise Sales Divisions conduct sales activities separately from the teams that handle individual stores, primarily dealing with merchants with a minimum of 10 billion yen and 100 stores or above. Division 1 and Division 2 are divided based on the industries they are responsible for. For existing PayPay merchants, we offer solutions such as campaign tie-ups, coupons, and stamps. Also, we pitch to companies that we hope will become PayPay merchants but haven’t yet done so.
The Partner Sales Division is responsible for strengthening ties with merchants. For instance, the Division works with partner companies that connect merchants to PayPay, such as gateways for offline stores and PSPs (Payment Service Providers/ payment agency) for online stores. In addition, we are expanding use cases so that utility bills, such as water and energy bills, can be paid with PayPay. We are also working with companies that offer cashless services, including PayPay, to new merchants.
Finally, there is the Sales Support Division. This team was established so that each of the sales divisions mentioned could focus solely on sales. This team is responsible for all activities that support sales, including all clerical work, contracts, training, and sales tool creation.
How often and at what scale do you hold all-hands meetings, or other meetings?
We had a kick-off meeting on April 1 of this fiscal year, when managers and above gathered. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet in person (because of COVID-19). Kick-offs are held twice a year, in the first and second halves of the year, and kick-offs are also held at each division to make sure we are all on the same page.
“Rockstar” and various other awards presented at PayPay Dome
And since we are in sales, we give out all kinds of awards.
One of the major awards is the “PayPay Sales Rock Star Awards.” The entire Sales Group is invited to explain what they did and the results they achieved, and the winning teams are awarded.
At the PayPay Sales Rock Star Awards FY21, held just a few days ago, a record number of 213 projects were entered. The top 20 were selected, of which the top 8 teams were able to advance to the presentations and compete for the top 3 projects in the final round, which was very exciting.
We also have sales awards, in which specific goals are set, such as “making a profit” or “achieving a target figure.” It’s designed to award the top 2-3% of sales reps.
Before Covid, we invited about 50 award winners to FUKUOKA PayPay Dome. Then, after handing out certificates and plaques, we would all watch a baseball game. We do it to recognize outstanding salespeople who have worked hard and to motivate the sales team members by treating them to special occasions. It makes them happy, which makes me happy too, and it makes us want to work harder together, right?
I’ve always valued these kinds of initiatives since my days at SoftBank. We’ve already held 13 award ceremonies, but the Dome awards event has been put on hold because of Covid!
I already gave my word to about 200 people, telling them, “I’ll definitely take you guys to the Dome one of these days!” (laughs) so I want to do it as soon as possible.
My job is to create opportunities for those who achieve results to climb the ladder
I believe that competition is the most critical aspect of a sales organization. So, for example, we plan and make competitions visible through block competitions, sales rep competitions, and head-on battles among supervisors. We foster a sense of rivalry of “Who is winning and losing now?” We relish the opportunity to compete with one another.
Then, members who keep winning can advance. Having hierarchy, seeing winners and losers, and those who achieve results in such an environment become the foundation of a solid team. So I have always ensured to create as many opportunities for the players to win and for them to go up.
Tell us about Day 1, or rather Day 0, the genesis
It goes back to something like a “Day 0,” even before Day 1 started. Back then, the members of Yahoo! JAPAN, who were initially conducting preliminary tests in Fukuoka to create a sales company, decided that this would go well. So we transferred a few more people from SoftBank and Yahoo to the company.
However, there was already a target set for “3 million stores in one year,” so it was necessary to open new offices and assign members as managers to each office. So the first group of about 60 employees was transferred from SoftBank through an internal recruitment system called JobPost.
To begin with, I was asked, “Are there any people from the unit that sold Yahoo! JAPAN BB modems?” The organization for the next term was being finalized around mid-March
In discussing how to achieve 3 million stores in a year, or even six months, I was asked by SoftBank, “Are there any people from the ‘parasol troop’ who used to sell YBB modems on the street?” (laughs)
I answered, “That would be him, him, him, and him. And actually me too…lol.” As we were having that conversation, it was decided I would join the new company, too, even though the organization for the next term had already been more or less set at that stage (laughs).
When it came to creating a sales company, we initially thought that everyone would be on assignment for only a year or so. Yet, I could not wait till the weekend was over and wanted to work with everyone as soon as Monday came around. I suppose it was due to my nature as a salesperson or the appetite I had as one of the remnants of the modem sales team. Regardless, that is how much fun I had. That was the moment of a drastic shift in the environment.
SoftBank and Yahoo folks would yell, “PayPay-hooray!” like a team chant
One time, executives from SoftBank and Yahoo and us secondees got together and called out “PayPay-hooray!” It really livened up the team. Those were good times.
Things have gotten a lot easier than how it was initially. However, demands are higher
The interview with Baba-san mentions some of the hardships and funny stories from back then. I also had a rough time on the trip to India to see what QR code payment was all about, and it was not easy setting up a sales office to sell products that had not yet materialized. However, compared to that period of grinding, work has gotten far easier nowadays, to be honest.
But, of course, we are now in a different phase, and the demands are certainly higher because of it (laughs).
What type of person is best suited for the job?
A motivated self-starter, for sure. Also, someone who enjoys change and a person with great endurance.
At kick-off meetings and other events, I often say that we need to be quick enough to get to the customer first and appeal to each other before anyone else does. Another thing is that since we are in a startup business, there is a great deal of change and inconsistency, so we should respond flexibly.
It is also important to have qualities that allow you to enjoy transforming yourself in response to changes in PayPay. Businesses change and transform one after another, and salespeople should relish that. Sometimes, you can slightly anticipate changes in the market and declare, “This will come, I promise.” Then we keep executing small tests.
What kind of mentality is required?
A person who leads by example is suited to privately-owned store sales. This sales team is structured in a management pyramid. First, there are many sales members, their leaders, and finally, their supervisors. It is best suited for the type of person who can empathize with a ramen shop owner, for example, and is willing to help him with all of his problems.
In contrast, in enterprise sales, the process differs depending on the company you are meeting with, and the target figures and data vary. I’m considering shuffling the members around at some point, though!
However, the common thread between the two is agility and flexibility. And the most essential element is teamwork.
I’ve played in team sports, but the mentality of “if I make a mistake, someone will cover for me, that’s a good team” is not good enough. We need someone who thinks, “Each and every one of us will do our duty. We will give it our all, 120% at a time.”
Yes. You cannot cause anyone any trouble.
Any message to those who want to join the PayPay Sales Group?
I think PayPay is a company with an inspiring future ahead. No company has grown so much in just three years, though we did get the help of our parent company. Furthermore, there is no doubt that the company will continue to offer various services and become an even more dominant player in helping Japan go cashless.
Various features and services will be added in the future, so by joining now, you will be able to experience PayPay’s transformation first-hand.
I’ve been involved in some pretty fascinating projects during my SoftBank days, such as Yahoo! JAPAN BB and Vodafone, but I think there aren’t many things in life that I enjoy as much as I do now.Editor’s note:
Author & Editor: Az (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team) / Translator: Philline / English Editor: Justin
*Employees’ affiliations and other information are those of the time of the interview.