Online banking businessman using smartphone with credit card Fintech and Blockchain concept

How to build a sales team in the payments industry

Article by Claire Huddleston, Head of Sales at Clear Junction

Online banking businessman using smartphone with credit card Fintech and Blockchain concept32 years in the sales industry. That’s 280,320 hours. I have been working in sales for 280,320 hours! During that time, I have built up a wealth of experience as a sales leader across typically male-dominated industries, principally payments.

The payments industry has seen exponential growth as it has adapted swiftly to the pandemic and a consumer shift toward online payments. Global payment revenues are expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2030, so, it is critical to build out an effective sales workforce to maximise market share in an increasingly overpopulated market.

My career has afforded me a nuanced understanding of the future of sales recruitment in fintech and just how crucial it is to build strong sales teams in this industry, so it was great when, in December 2021, I became the Head of Sales at Clear Junction, a global payments solutions provider for financial institutions.

Building a strong sales team: remarkable, rewarding and bloody difficult.

Business growth will always lead to some teething problems, especially when building bigger and strong teams to adapt to business needs. The pandemic brought into sharp focus how one of the greatest challenges is attracting top talent and building a strong sales team in a saturated market.

Businesses have to set themselves apart and, somewhat ironically, sell themselves to the candidate.

Our selling point as a business when bringing on new team members comes from showing where we are now compared to a couple of years ago. Our transition through the pains of being a start-up to reaching our current phase of growth is something that should really appeal to those looking to join a fintech with huge potential.

Crucially, we also possess an agile vision. Although we may have similar technology to our competitors, the fact that we find niches in the industry where others do not (and capitalise on them) is what sets us apart.

This is how we appeal to potential employees, but it is also fundamental to how we serve our customers. Our services provide a more hands-on, tailored and friendly experience than one might receive from other businesses. We can and do adjust to customer needs far more quickly than a more traditional finance organisation might do – and much like our customers, our employees are more than just a number to us.

This is told in our company culture – teams are built on a company’s culture – and it is hugely satisfying to see that Clear Junction is a company that encourages input from all corners. Ideas are listened to and we all support one another. There is huge collaboration across different departments, roles and locations – it really feels as if we are all working towards the same goal.

A needle in a fintech haystack: hunting for affordability and knowledgeability

Fintech has been in a state of flux and revolution, leaving us with a wildly different situation to that of five years ago. Since 2018, the value of the global fintech market has seen a whopping 25% increase on average year on year, with 2022 tipped to be an especially pivotal year for the industry. The rise of new platforms like Web3, cryptocurrency and instant checkout is creating more opportunities across almost every field within fintech, and thus more competition for companies to secure the best employees.

Organisations are now having to sell the role, the culture and the company to candidates – why should they choose this particular offer as opposed to the other three or four that they have on the table? Prior to the substantial growth in fintech, the opposite was true – there were not as many jobs available in the industry and, much like any commodity, less supply plus more demand has led to increased costs.

Resulting skewed salary expectations make it tricky to find the people with the right knowledge and experience in payments at a good price. However, many businesses have seen injections of funds inflating the value of their business, which in turn allows them to offer higher salaries.

We are increasingly seeing someone with six months of experience walk into a recruitment process expecting an £80K-£100K base salary. I imagine these businesses are also seeing a higher churn rate, when inexperienced employees can’t sustain what is required to do the job due to an often inevitable shortage of skills, unfortunately leading to growing trust gaps.

Payments is a weird and wonderful industry. There are so many facets of the ecosystem to understand which, if grasped, can be a huge asset for a salesperson. That is what sets people apart in the sales process itself – if they can speak to the bigger picture and not just their piece of the pie.

That said, finding that needle in the haystack is quite hard. When I do find it, I can see myself getting into a bidding war with larger fintech firms that can offer something additional; whether that is a small piece of equity or a higher salary.

Female leadership 101: accept your self-doubt and do it anyway.

According to a Deloitte study, less than 30% of the UK’s fintech workforce is female. The message from this report is clear – every organisation in the fintech industry needs to acknowledge and educate themselves on the difficulties women face in such a male-dominated profession.

Personally, I’ve found that women, myself included, have often struggled to be heard. We doubt ourselves, letting imposter syndrome set in. Like most people, I have experienced imposter syndrome during my career. Essentially, as women, proving our worth is our biggest challenge, especially when we find ourselves in very male-orientated industries, such as fintech. To combat this, I have made it a priority from early in my career to be able to speak with knowledge and confidence; to show the client that I know the solution thoroughly, so they have trust in me.

At the end of the day, there are huge steps to be taken in order for gender equality to be incorporated into the corporate playbook. That being said the key message I would like to focus on is my work ethic and not my gender.

 I’m not the female Head of Sales at Clear Junction. I am “The Head of Sales at Clear Junction”.