Fintech in Atlanta #2 - Interview with Andy Payment, CEO at Symbiom
Dubbed as the “Transaction Alley”, Atlanta’s thriving fintech industry continues to seek for a demand of talents in the fintech and payments industry. Payments & Cards Network extended our footprints two years ago and set up our U.S. office in Atlanta to serve the fintech community by helping companies to connect with fintech talents in the region.
For our second interview, we talked with Andy Payment, CEO at Symbiom. He shared with us how payments companies should build their sales and marketing strategy to cope with digital disruption, and how Atlanta should continue to build on its reputation as a growing fintech hub.
1. Every payments business is evolving. As a result, who they sell to and how their customers buy is changing. If I’m one of these businesses, how do I keep track of it all?
Digital transformation in markets like financial services, retail, hospitality and gaming are creating significant buyer-side disruption. New functional roles are emerging, power structures are changing, and the buying process is getting more complex. For example, CIOs are losing clout in some buying committees in favor of more growth-oriented technology experts (e.g. Head of Innovation) who have the ear of the decision maker.
At the same time, payments providers are going through their own version of disruption. Strategy pivots (e.g., processor to vertical software provider), consolidation and increased growth pressure are just a few examples. Put all of that together, and it’s easy to lose track of who’s selling what to whom.
The answer is getting back to doing the block & tackle really well. Understand the personas. Obsess over the customer journey. Pay close attention to how you're positioned against your competition. Most sales and marketing organizations really aren’t spending time on this because it’s not as sexy as automation and analytics. But if you’re not deliberate, you risk wasting a lot of resources.
2. How should payments companies think about customer relationships and influence in 2019?
At the end of the day, business relationships still come down to trust and value. The latter starts with becoming experts in the customer’s environment and challenges. Having an informed perspective, along with great products can open a lot of doors.
The bigger challenge is getting your customer’s attention. Decision makers are dealing with significant internal disruption, new vendors offering new ideas, and a ton of content and communication. They’re responding by walling themselves off. Properly aligning marketing with sales can ensure your content, data and insights consistently permeate across the client organization, increasing the signal-to-noise ratio.
3. How do legacy providers compete against emerging players who excel at branding and customer experience?
Great stories and experiences matter more than ever. But so do scale, reliability and support. We often attribute the success of companies like Square, Adyen and Stripe to some sort of marketing miracle. But they also have great products that work really well for their customers and they’re easy to do business with.
Placing a premium on CX and the customer journey are table stakes in 2019. But don’t lose sight of your strengths in the process. Stay loyal to what you do well, then focus on ensuring that your customers understand and can easily realize the value of your offering.
4. What can I do in sales and marketing to better differentiate and rise above the competition?
Well differentiated companies have a lot in common. Their strategies are clear, they obsess over their brands, they speak with confidence and take stands. And they focus on advancing their own agenda instead of chasing their competition. These are all seemingly simple things, but most companies refuse to focus on them. You don’t need to look any further than the valuation multiples of companies like Square and PayPal to see how it makes a difference.
5. What does Atlanta need to do next to build on its reputation as a growing fintech hub?
It’s amazing to see what Atlanta has built in such a short period of time - less than 10 years. The passion and engagement from civic leaders, fintech operators, investors and universities becomes stronger every year. As we look towards 2020, there are three things we need to do to get to the next level:
- Rally around a clear goal. “Fintech” means different things to different people. And there are different organizations advancing different interests. We all need to get really clear about which part of the ecosystem we’re serving and start chasing some clear, ambitious goals.
- Create more accountability. Some fintechs didn’t deliver on the jobs they promised. Some have merged with others or gone away completely. These are the realities of being a fintech hub today. But we need to make sure that companies that receive financial, marketing and talent benefits keep their promises and contribute to the objective. And we need to learn from it when they don’t.
- Increased access to capital. We have an influential and growing VC community. However, most still don’t do deals bigger than Series A, don’t do pre-revenue deals, and demand a comparatively higher price for capital than Silicon Valley. Those may be wise business principles, but the implication of that is too many startups looking outside of Atlanta for money. Our startups are creating jobs and wealth potential too, and we need to continue to better cultivate that.
About the interviewee
Andy Payment helps disruptive businesses more effectively navigate the marketing and sales process. He’s the CEO of Symbiom, a B2B strategy and services firm that supports high-growth startups, mid-sized companies, and FORTUNE 1000 firms in the fintech industry. Prior to Symbiom, he was the Head of Global Communications at Verifone. In 2017, Andy was named one of PR Week’s 40 Under 40. Learn more at www.symbiom.io.