Nick Shrimpton from Sixth Sense Marketing talks to John Donigan, the newly appointed Director Of Sales for Insight Legal about his career and his hopes for his new role working with the Insight leadership team to drive the next phase of growth at the legal software company.
Tell me about the early years of your career…
I’ve been in and around law firms most of my working life. I started as a solicitor in private practice, heading the conveyancing team at a firm in Northern England. It was a super role, combining legal work and completion deadlines alongside building relationships with estate agents and developers. We had a dedicated and successful team, but the work became very labour intensive. I identified the need for a case management system to help improve our efficiency. That was the first time I encountered legal IT as a buyer, and I have to say the whole experience left me cold. Put simply we were promised a solution that never delivered what we needed. Thinking back about it the emotions are still quite raw and that’s a good reminder to me when we are working hard to get deals over the line today.
You’re a rare breed, someone with experience of both fee earning and law firm management
Over time I became more interested in business development than law itself and it led me to my first sales role, in a family-run business selling Legal Forms into law firms. The first six months was really tough, but then the sales started to come in. I had a nice car and began enjoying the commission payments. I no longer thought of myself as a solicitor but as a capable executive in the area of IT software sales with real customer empathy.
Between 2007 and 2013 I had a number of roles including back inside a law firm again as Client Relationship Manager with Rowlands Field Cunningham in Manchester. These varied roles taught me that no matter how well you performed as a sales manager, external factors like the economy, business sales and acquisitions and change of senior executives can all impact on your ‘shelf-life’ in a particular position.
The other thing that I learned from doing different roles was how much I enjoyed selling at the coal face. The perfect role for me is one where the sales management and team development can co-exist with me also being out on the road.
You’ve joined Insight from another IT software supplier…
I’ve joined Insight Legal after 6 ½ years with Leap Legal Software. Within one month of starting a role with another software company back in 2013, Leap had taken it over which was how I found myself there. I developed the Northern sales office before heading to Ireland to grow the user base over there.
I’ve been the beneficiary of some excellent sales management training over the years which has benefitted both me and my teams. I’m confident that with the structure, systems and processes, I can create a positive environment for the sales guys here to thrive and achieve their own goals. I see part of my role as removing any ‘road blocks’ that might inhibit their ability to do their jobs successfully.
I’m happy to admit I’m still getting my feet under the desk here at Insight Legal; but I must say I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen so far. The people across the board have been welcoming and friendly. I sense an enthusiasm and energy that comes from a smaller and tighter-knit team that is less corporate in style than I’ve been used to. Under the leadership of Brian, Tim and Deborah the key elements of a successful IT supplier are in place with the BD, technical development and professional services teams all working closely together. If I can help align the sales team in the same way, then the outlook for the business should be very favourable.
John Donigan can be connected via his LinkedIn profile here