Slow Down To Speed Up
Why getting overlooked for a promotion at my first sales job helped put me in the right place at the right time to succeed
This week I posted on LinkedIn about my first year after leaving the law and moving into legal tech. The post describes being overlooked for a promotion, why I decided to not quit for a higher paying job, and how it was all worth it. Today I’ll expand on my thoughts about some of the details I shared in that post.
Not having the right credentials
"I know you used to be a lawyer, but you're just not ready to be an account executive yet," they said. And then they went back to reviewing resumes from gym salesmen and 23-year old tech bros for the job of selling software to law firms.
It really sucked when I learned that my new employer didn’t care about my legal background. Well. They pretended to. Gave me lots of compliments about being smart even though they really had no evidence for that. It was just how I was perceived. And yet my tangible skills and knowledge were overlooked.
I had lots of experience using, buying, and working with e-discovery. Which was exactly what my employer focused on! They just didn’t want to promote me to a senior sales position.
Instead they hired all sorts of random people to sell the technology. There’s a belief that if you can sell something, you can sell anything. So sales leaders hire based on “years of sales experience” even if that experience is in something completely different, like gym memberships or HR technology. Of course, how these hires perform is a different question entirely.
As a lawyer with 0 years of sales experience, I certainly wasn’t gonna get promoted.
This belief, by the way, is not uncommon in the tech startup space. I recently advised a late stage legal technology company, and found the same pattern. The main go-to-market executive, who had deep functional experience with no background in the legal industry, was placed in charge of sales & marketing. No one could figure out why the team was struggling to create compelling sales pitches to these lawyers.