PayPay Leader Interview is a series of interviews with PayPay top executives that show a glimpse into their personalities and perspectives. In this installment, we sat down with Hiroto Takagi, Division Head, Enterprise Sales Division 1, Sales Group.
Division Head, Enterprise Sales Division 1, Sales Group
In 2001, after graduating from university he joined Intelligence Co., Ltd. (now PERSOL CAREER Co., Ltd.), where he worked in various positions, such as manager of the New Business Development Department, head of the Strategic Human Resources Headquarters, and senior manager of the Media Business Sales Division. He joined PayPay Corporation in July 2018, when the company was established.
Table of contents
Why did you decide to join PayPay?
When I had an interview with Yahoo! JAPAN, even before the name PayPay or the product came out, I was told that a big project that would bring about social changes was in preparation. I decided to join the project because I could see in the interviewer the resolve, determination, and passion to make a difference, and also because of my aspirations ever since I was a newcomer in the labor force to do work that leaves a greater impact on society and through which I can make the world a better place. I was very surprised when I heard later that the name of the service would be “PayPay” (laughs).
Please tell us about PayPay’s Enterprise Sales Division
The Enterprise Sales Division is organized by industry, with the major merchants as our main clients. The Enterprise Sales Division 1, which I oversee, focuses on large e-commerce platform providers, apparel companies, and major service industry (including food and beverage) enterprises.
I made the division’s mission to “Generate profits for and continue growing with merchants.” My hope is for PayPay to provide an added value of better profitability for merchants, and in that gainful process, to continue to be mindful of the growth of merchants, PayPay, and us the employees.
Love for PayPay, ownership, and diversity
There are three important guiding principles for achieving our mission.
The first is love for PayPay. As PayPay sales reps, we want to first be the number one fans of PayPay. It would be ideal if the service we love is also used by our customers, and we can further improve it. I think organizations and services that operate with this kind of mindset are strong, and I believe that loving the product and nurturing it with every member will make it a service also loved by users and merchants.
The second principle is ownership. PayPay is still a startup company, so there are many undeveloped aspects, such as the fact that a lot of our work in the sales departments are not yet fully operationalized. In addition, we primarily work from home with the WFA system, so given the situation, people who can take the initiative and expand the scope of their role are the members playing an active role.
The third principle is diversity. Since we are not picky regarding the industries from which we recruit, less than 10% of our members come from a payment or financial background. We are fortunate to have talented folks from a broad range of fields. Also, we often work together with marketing members, product engineers, and people from operations and customer support as a project team, so I think my position allows me to feel beyond the sales team the liveliness that emanates from PayPay’s diversity. Having personnel from various backgrounds may be important, but I think we need to take that a step further and foster diversity through members with different opinions valuing those differences while at the same time discussing them.
How will you contribute to your clients’ profitability?
There are three pillars to the initiatives we execute: account planning, being data-driven, and market orientation.
Account planning is the daily consideration of how best to propose solutions to clients’ business challenges as we keep creating a wide variety of services such as payments, coupons, and flyers. Once a month, each team makes time for an account planning meeting to take stock of our clients’ current situation and challenges, then consider the best way forward not only for the reps in charge but as an entire team. I join these meetings, commonly known as “akapura meetings” for all the teams, and we often have lively discussions.
The second pillar, being data-driven, is something we would like to enhance going forward to add to PayPay’s corporate value, and is also an interesting part of the work we do at Enterprise Sales. Recently, various analyses have gradually become possible by cross-pollinating PayPay’s payment data with Yahoo’s user profile IDs. We also provide data useful to merchants by combining or matching external data, such as receipt data, with PayPay’s payment data to measure the effectiveness of services like PayPay Coupons. By leveraging PayPay’s data, we aim to make our services more convenient for users and conducive to our clients’ growth.
Now let’s discuss market orientation, the third pillar.
At PayPay, we have a culture of launching new services first and then improving them as we go along through feedback from users and merchants. We don’t provide a 100% finished product with a complete instruction manual. I can’t even count the number of times an improvement proposed by our division was implemented in a product or service. It’s simply part of the daily grind.
With the mindset that “sales evolves the product,” our sales teams work with the planning departments and product teams to grow and improve the service, all the while staying on top of customer needs and market conditions. I think this is the best part of our work and what gives this job its charm. I’m sure all this experience will become an asset for each member in the future. All the more so because PayPay is still going through a growth spurt.
Are there any projects that you are currently focusing on?
Thankfully, PayPay as a payment method has been adopted to a considerable extent by large-scale merchants. We are now shifting our focus to pitching the use of PayPay as a marketing and DX tool, with the premise that it is being used as a payment tool. For example, the types of services we currently handle are actually quite extensive, including coupons, e-flyers, points, mini apps, and PaaS (provision of our payment feature to external parties), and we will add more according to the needs of users and merchants.
The intensity of the competition and knowledge required for each service is quite different, so it is difficult for salespeople to catch up. Having said that, I believe that the environment is full of opportunities for one to grow as an individual and as a salesperson, especially when it comes to sales pitch ideas.
Plus, I mentioned earlier that we want to use data to increase added value, but data is not valuable on its own. They must be read, hypothesized, and interpreted to make sense of it, and further need to be linked to business initiatives. The current challenge is to increase the level of proficiency in handling data and creating an organization-wide knowledge base.
What has been most challenging for you in PayPay?
When Covid first spread, it was predicted that offline payments would stagnate, especially in the food and beverage industry, and that the need for online payments would increase. The company made a decision to launch online payments at once, and I was in charge of the sales side of things. Since sales as an organization and I had virtually no knowledge of e-commerce or online services before that, we started by learning and analyzing the market structure, including the competition and relationship with credit cards and carrier billing. We closely discussed sales strategies and pricing with management as we moved forward with the project.
We then started pitching to various merchants, but at the time, people in general did not have a clear idea of what PayPay’s online payment system was about. So, we repeated the PDCA cycle at full throttle, figuring out by trial and error what kind of story to tell during our proposals. As a result, according to the most recent market survey, PayPay has grown to the point where users’ willingness to use it for online payments is second only to credit cards.
Back then was also a time when the company was switching to the WFA (telecommuting) system, so it was also a challenging experience in terms of the physical environment.
How do you want your sales members to grow?
I believe that sales is a function that can immensely drive a business forward. PayPay has grown thanks to a good combination of product, marketing, and sales capabilities. I consider sales to be the “executive producer” of a “movie” called business, with corporate clients at the center of the “plot.” I want my members to be sales reps who can play an active role in growing the business and not narrow down their roles to only making sales.
To that end, I make it a point in my daily work to toss ideas to members. I try to broaden their perspectives by making them consider a new option in their pitch that better meets clients’ challenges, ask them whether the project will really be supported by merchants and PayPay users, or make them set a goal based on an extremely difficult topic. I hope that by expanding their responsiveness and agility as salespeople no matter the situation, they will be able to be an achiever in any industry, company, or scenario in the future.
Which of the PayPay 5 Senses do you consider most important?
“Speed is our bet on the market” and “Ego is not welcome, communication is necessary.” Speed is the lifeblood of PayPay’s business. On the other hand, communication is time-consuming and takes up resources, right? There can be a conflict between proceeding quickly and communicating conscientiously. Since sales reps in our division work more often in a project rather than individually, and as PayPay has become a larger organization than it was in its early days, it is becoming more important to balance speed and communication.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future, and what is your vision?
Ever since I was on my first job hunt, I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the world. When I am out and about in town, I find it very rewarding to actually see our customers availing themselves of the promotions and services that we have poured our heart and soul into creating. I sincerely wish to continue making PayPay a more convenient service that more people will want to use.
Current job openings
*Recruitment status and employee affiliations are correct at the time of the interview.