What inspired you to venture into fintech, and what do you find most rewarding about it?
When I started my career at a finance company that has a fintech product, I got into tech sales by accident and I loved it. This is mostly because it’s an area of strength for me given the transferable skills I had acquired from my entrepreneurial attempts way before I graduated. Back in the university, I started a fashion brand where I was able to hone my sales and marketing skills. So getting into corporate sales felt like me being in my natural space – it was effortless for me. Within months, I rose through the ranks. I led the B2C team I joined within months. Two years later I got inspired by the giant strides that the African tech space was making and I discovered that technical sales was and is still an under-rated career path. Everyone wants to be a software engineer which is amazing, but who will work with these core tech guys to bring the cash in? So, I decided to get myself into a software development company as a technical sales’ professional.
Tell us about your role as a B2B tech business executive and targeted enterprises?
I manage sales of digital products, product development and software engineering products and services to close out either directly through sales of our services to small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), that is tech-enabled companies with a staff of 50 or less, to mid-market companies and to enterprise companies. A few of these products are Software-as-a-Service (Saas) Inventory Management Product, Learning Management Systems and for services, it could be a build of a new tech product or an up-scaling of an existing product or a digital transformation. The latter is most common to enterprise companies. Also, these business opportunities could also be indirect through partnerships with companies and organisations that have ties to our target audience.
Tech sales have always been an important part of the tech ecosystem. Although, the public relation community have been limited to this fact which is not surprising because a company looking to woo investors wants to present a fancy engineering team. That looks shiny. Also, as the number of innovative tech companies that are focusing more on actually generating revenue increases, the technical sales path becomes stronger. It’s a very wide career path and as these companies focus on revenue generation, the need for more hands grows, so now you don’t just need a closer (an account executive), you need people to manage the clients you’ve closed. You don’t just want one-off clients. You want paying companies to stick with your products for years. You need people who are focused on ensuring your existing clients are well serviced and can continuously stay on your service or product. You need sales engineers who are specialised in technologically advanced products to use their technical skills to explain the benefits of your products or services to potential clients and to show how their products or services are better than competitors’. Then the account executives handle the more business related part.
The truth is, the industry still has a long way to go but we are on our way. As Nigerian tech companies grow in capacity, roles like SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) will no longer be collapsed into the roles of account executives because you want the best results from your Advanced Encryption Standard (AEs). At the moment, a good number of companies are rising in capacity and are able to separate their Account Executive and Account Manager roles. It’s slow but it’s growing. Also, as companies face the market realities, they are learning to value their sales professionals. Not a lot of companies in Nigeria have seen the light but it’s a step.
What are the key factors contributing to the growth of tech sales in Nigeria, and what opportunities do you see for further development in this field?
As the focus of a tech company shifts from Venture capital (VC) funding to having an endless pipeline of paying customers, the importance of tech sales professionals in the organisation becomes exigent. A lot of global big tech companies are built not just on the back of great engineering but on solid business teams such as strong technical sales teams.
As the co-founder of the Tech Sales and Partnership community, could you share the motivation behind this establishment and the goals you aim to achieve through this community?
Technical sales’ is not a sexy role – it is blood and sweat. It is demanding not just physically but it can take an emotional toil on you as a professional. Of course, everyone in the company is hired to help the company grow but it’s different when you’re judged directly by the income of the company. It’s a lot of burden to carry. A lot of times, revenue growth isn’t that direct. Of course, a tech sales professional needs to be worth their salt to survive. Personally, I love to brag about my sales numbers and about my accomplishments wherever I work. Revenue growth isn’t just about selling. A lot of factors affect the scores. If I’m playing a match with a deflated ball, we simply won’t score as a team and that isn’t because I’m not great at scoring. So coming from a marketing and product marketing background, I had a lot of marketing and product marketing virtual communities in Nigeria that I belonged to and to learn that there was just none for a career path that requires you to have lots of people in your corner was just shocking so I shared my desire to start something like this (in fact a podcast) at that time with my friend Dara Ahmed who I met last year on a day I was ranting on Twitter about having a bad day with B2B tech sales. She expressed that she had a similar plan because it’s just absurd to tread this path alone even as a professional, let alone as a newbie. She also explained that she had talked to her friend, Princewill Omoyemi at that time so we all just agreed that it might be really stressful to do these things in silos so we decided to work together to establish the very first tech sales community in Nigeria: TSPC (Tech Sales and Partnerships Community).We launched our Slack community in March 2023 with almost 100 members on the waitlist at that time.
Looking ahead, what are your future plans and aspirations for the Tech Sales and Partnership community, as well as your own career in tech sales?
The goal for the community is to help technical sales professionals thrive in their career and to help technical sales enthusiasts find their feet with all of the support they can get. All of our future plans and aspirations will always be on opportunities and activities that can help us achieve this goal.