New Streamline AI VP: Economic Downturn Will Make Customers Pickier, Focused on ROI

Cassandre Coyer - Law (click here to view the original article)
December 8, 2022

Nobody wants an unhappy customer—and the legal tech industry is no different.

As customers in the legal tech industry are not only becoming more sophisticated and knowledgeable in the technology tools available to them, but also facing increased pressure to demonstrate ROIs on these tools, the pressure on sales departments is greater than ever.

On Thursday, Streamline AI, the recently launched, artificial intelligence-powered, that aims to solve the pain points of in-house legal teams announced that it has strengthened its sales department with the hire of Karen Moor as its new VP of sales. Moor is the former director of ELM sales at SimpleLegal, where she worked for seven years.

Moor is well aware of the market’s current sales pressures as she joins the Streamline AI team. Legaltech News caught up with Moor and Kathy Zhu, Streamline AI’s co-founder, to discuss how this recent hire fits into the company’s strategy going forward.

Below, Moor discusses how customers’ needs and their demands of solutions have become more sophisticated, how their relationship with technology tools will likely be shaped by the uncertain economic downturn and how vendors’ roles are evolving into consultancy capabilities.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Legaltech News: Karen, what was the impetus behind your move from SimpleLegal to Streamline AI?

Karen Moor: I was at SimpleLegal for seven years. I started in the early days, I was employee number nine. I started when we were at that scrappy time when everybody’s doing everything and everything that you do makes a huge impact on the business. And we were very successful and we grew the business. We were acquired [by Onit] and SimpleLegal now has over 450 customers, it’s a thriving business.

But just recently I was thinking [that] I really wanted to go back to that early stage, I wanted to start again and build another sales organization, and I was really itching to do that. So that made me start to reach out to people and start having conversations. And the first person that I was introduced to was Kathy [Zhu], and the rest is history.

The layoffs had nothing to do with my decision to look for a new role. I had already made the decision to pursue a new opportunitybefore the layoffs started to happen in the industry.

Legaltech News: What about you Kathy, what attracted you to Karen's portfolio?

Kathy Zhu: We were looking for two main things. The first is a seasoned sales leader who is willing to be a player coach for the initial growth stages of the business, and then later would be able to build and lead a sales team past series A and much beyond. ... The second thing is we really wanted to find someone who had the same commitment to our customers, who is really aligned to our values as a business.

And, when I saw Karen’s resume, it was just so clear that what she accomplished at SimpleLegal—helping them grow from that seed stage, working out of a garage, to becoming a leader in the e-billing space, helping them to define and create this new category—all of that was not only impressive, it’s exactly what we also want to do here at Streamline AI as well.

Legaltech News: Karen, you have been working in the legal tech industry for the past seven years. How do you think customers' needs and demands have evolved during your time in legal tech?

Karen Moor: I think the industry, legal operations, corporate legal, has gotten much more sophisticated over time. Now, they’re much more aware of the technology that’s available to them. They’re very aware of the process to get funding so that they can purchase the tech that they’re looking for. And they’re looking for the ROI on that and making sure that they’re making the right decisions.

Legaltech News: How do you see that relationship between these sophisticated customers and technology evolve as we continue to navigate this uncertain economic climate?

Karen Moor: So there’s going to be education, there’s going to be understanding and there’s going to be saying, as far as the economy is concerned, maybe we can’t do it this year. Maybe we’ve got to push it out until next year, but we’re here, we’re going to work with you and, when the time is right, Streamline AI is here.

Kathy Zhu: With the economy being the way it is, head count is frozen. The work is not going anywhere, the volume probably keeps increasing. And so that rift between sales and legal will keep growing until they can actually bridge the gap and find a solution to help everyone speak from the same set of facts.

And that’s what we’re going to be bringing to all these companies. It’s shining a light into that black box.

Legaltech News: Karen, you're staying in the legal ops industry. How different do you expect your role to be at Streamline AI?

Karen Moor: I definitely expect a smooth transition. But I think what Streamline AI is doing is solving a problem that has not been addressed yet. That’s also one of the reasons I’m here—and this is very compelling to me—is that I have heard for over a year from customers that legal is in this black box. And the intake, “help me figure out how to deal with the business and all this intake that’s coming in through Slack and through email”... it’s actually gotten louder in the last few months.

So I think what’s going to be different than what I was doing at SimpleLegal is now educating and introducing this to the market, which is going to be very fun, because I can solve this problem and then build a sales team that can do the same as the company grows.

Legaltech News: Looking ahead, what are some of the challenges that you hope to tackle to meet those need you feel haven't been met in the past?

Kathy Zhu: What I see happening is, because corporate legal teams are the hub and they’re connected to every single other team in the business, nothing significant can be done without the input of a legal team. So once we really get our foot in the door and help the corporate legal team to streamline their processes and bring transparency and add all the power of the automation, these other business teams are also going to learn about our application, because they’re going to use it to submit their request to legal. And so there’ll be a very natural land and expand across the entire enterprise.

Legaltech News: Karen, what is the biggest takeaway or unexpected lesson that you've learned over the past seven years of selling products to the legal tech industry?

Karen Moor: Don’t try and sell something that doesn’t fit. You’re just gonna regret it. The customer is going to be unhappy if they signed the contract with you—you don’t want unhappy customers. So listen to the customer, understand what their needs are. If you have the solution, become their consultant and their partner. And then, once the contract is signed, it’s very important that sales doesn’t turn their back on the customer anymore. Make sure that the promises are delivered. And that also includes working very closely with your implementation, your professional services, your customer success teams. It should be a partnership internally as well as externally.

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