Leigh Solomon - VP Sales at BlueJ Legal
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Hello world! Meet the ball of energy who is Leigh Solomon, VP Sales and Customer Success at Blue J Legal. Leigh is a pioneer in the tech sales space and a passionate coach and mentor.
What’s your major internal motivation for doing what you do?
I want to be part of creating an industry or market, where 5 or 10 years from now people wonder how they ever lived without it. I was part of that when I worked at Clarity and we launched a product called FSR (Financial Statement Reporting) and I saw the same potential with Blue J Legal’s technology.
Before I joined Blue J, I gave myself permission to be very thoughtful and selective about what I would do next. I wanted to be part of building something new and game changing. When Kristina [McDougall] approached me about the role, I was unsure since I wasn’t familiar with the legal space or legal tech, but as soon as I understood the vision for what Blue J is doing, how no other company was taking legal research to the next level with machine learning and how accomplished the founders are – I felt a spark of excitement and opportunity. I was reminded of the days before FSR was an industry standard - how no one ever considered that automating the production of highly formatted external financial reports could be possible. I knew that at Blue J Legal, I’d be part of building a new market. I would be setting the standard of how to sell and pitch AI in Legal Tech and all companies that try to copy Blue J will be looking at what I’ve done as a benchmark and best practice.
Additionally, I wanted to be part of a technology that is new and really makes a meaningful difference for the user or society at large. Often, it feels like AI is a buzzword that gets thrown around to make technology sound more sexy. What drew me to Blue J Legal is how we are using machine learning in conjunction with human intelligence to build a platform to help our clients make more informed decisions and focus their research – thereby saving them time and giving them the chance to help more people. And I love that at Blue J Legal, we are taking steps to making the law accessible by providing free access of our platforms to various nor for profit organizations.
What are your favourite aspects of what you do?
I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and sense of pride when a deal comes in, but what I really gets me excited is hiring and scaling teams. I love to teach and mentor. I tend to hire people with less experience and are early in or new to a career in sales or business development because they are eager to learn. I love the idea of being able to share my experience and molding them to be better than me. I take pride in seeing my team grow and that people that worked for me in the past still reach out to me for advice and mentorship.
My husband suggested I love mentoring because I see myself in my team. And his comment made me realise that it’s actually because I see everything I wanted to be in them. I want to help them avoid making the same mistakes I did and to go further than I have.
I believe have an eye for really smart Sales people - I can tell in the first 5 minutes of meeting someone if they have the talent for Sales or not. I’ve mentored some amazing Sales leaders, many who have surpassed me and I’m proud of what they’ve gone on to accomplish.
What’s been the most surprising part of your journey?
The fact that I’m in Sales! When I was younger, I didn’t even think this was a profession. And it never occurred to me that I would join the technology world as a Sales leader.
I love reading and I always thought that I would be a writer. I studied English and Literature in university because I figured you study what you love. I was exposed to the tech world through one of my first jobs in customer service at one of the first dot com companies in the 90s, as the internet was starting to become mainstream. Through that, I was introduced to online advertising and was fascinated by the idea that someone could see a picture online, click on it, and buy something.
My start in Sales was by up-selling inbound phone orders. It made me wonder if people would be as responsive if I called them. I started to test calling companies to tell them about our product and I realized slowly that it worked and I didn’t have to wait for them to call me to make a sale. I didn’t have tools like CRMs, LinkedIn, Adwords or Facebook. I found my own lists and started calling companies and realized that I’m really good at it and it was fun.
My advice is: if you find something you’re super good at, just keep going. Even if it wasn’t part of your life’s script. Scripts change all the time.
What are you most proud of professionally?
I’m proud of taking an unknown product or idea and helping it grow to #1. When a company I’ve touched in the early stages gets acquired or raises a good series B, that makes me proud. I know that I entered that startup with a fresh list and a fresh market and made a difference. I love being able to say that I’m part of their story.
But I’m most proud of the people that I’ve worked with and mentored. They’re successful and accomplished. They’re running their own companies or making a big difference in the companies they’re with now. My hope is that they are opening doors and taking chances on the next generation of young and hopeful sales trainees like I did for them - and sharing some of my advice along with stories and experiences of their own.
What do you find the most interesting about the Toronto tech ecosystem?
The Toronto tech community is really small. I’m always surprised by how often a new person I meet knows so many others I know. Everyone is connected to each other in some shape or form and we all help each other out.
I try my best to help fellow Toronto startups. In addition to leading Blue J Legal’s sales and servicing teams, I have 3 small kids and have say “no” to product demos all the time, despite wanting to see them, but I will always make time for someone in Toronto who needs help. I make the time because I know they would make the time for me. Toronto Tech is way ahead of the other “leading” Tech markets. We have the quality of talent and high levels of startup support from government and private sources to succeed. Toronto is a startup hub, as well as an AI hub but most importantly we’re building a strong, supportive community. I’m proud to be a part of it.
Want a chance to work with Leigh and learn from her first-hand? Want to change the future of legal research and how law is accessed? She’s looking for an experienced sales leader to help her drive and grow business development at Blue J Legal. If you're interested, get in touch with us here.