UK-headquartered software company Peppermint Technology has appointed former Pinnacle US CEO Robert Beach as its first-ever US president as it looks to build its business in the United States. The news follows Peppermint’s second, as yet undisclosed Am Law 200 law firm win. In June 2021 Peppermint announced that Detroit-headquartered law firm Dickinson Wright had become its first US customer – Dickinson Wright selected Peppermint Client Engagement, its client relationship management (CRM) system.
Beach has a long legal technology pedigree, including a long pedigree in CRM, which is at the core of Peppermint’s Microsoft Dynamics-based modular offering. He was a consultant at Interface in 1994 – Interface was acquired by LexisNexis in 2004 and became market leading CRM InterAction. He spent some time at LexisNexis as a senior product manager between 2003-05.
Beach joined Pinnacle in November 2018 and grew the US team from two people to around 18. He told Legal IT Insider: “It was a really hard choice to leave, I wasn’t really looking to move but I’ve known the Peppermint guys for a while through Pinnacle because we’ve done some work them. I’ve got to know the Peppermint leadership team and knew that at some point they would be aggressively moving into the US, and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great help them do that.’”
Beach has been instrumental in Peppermint’s early US success and in terms of why the timing is right to join the fast-growing company now, Beach said: “We’re going to see a big focus in the industry around CRM. Before the pandemic, I felt that 2020 was going to be the year of CRM for law firms but then the pandemic hit and slowed things down. We’re now moving back to that place where firms know they need to get better with how they engage with clients and prospective clients, and they need software to help with that but there have been few choices.”
While the CRM needs of US customers differ when it comes to the likes of currency, and some of the language used is different, Beach says: “For the most part, marketing and business development work the same way and do the same things wherever you are. The exciting thing is being able to tailor the solution and it’s great that we have this Microsoft platform to build on, which is very appealing to law firm CIOs.”
Beach’s first priority will be to hire strong people to help him with the expansion and he says: “Job one for me is to bring people in to build the team.” Job two will be to focus on sales and customer success and Beach is looking to hire client-facing individuals, with the hope or expectation that the team will get to 10 people “pretty quickly.” It’s likely that product development will continue to be run out of the UK.
Peppermint is naturally cloud-based, and is benefiting from the post-pandemic shift within the legal sector towards cloud software. Beach says: “There is a comfort level. From an IT perspective, security aside, CIOs would rather be cloud-based because it’s easier on them and they don’t have to have staff to keep the lights on and maintain servers. There is an appetite to make things easier and an understanding that this is where everyone is going. When you get to marketing and business development, there is even less of a concern because there’s not the same kind of data to worry about.”
While business development has been elevated in status over the past few years, it will be interesting to see whether law firms are ready culturally and strategically to leverage CRM to the full extent of its capabilities. Beach says: “InterAction will probably go down as the best-selling piece of legal software – every firm had it – but it was so far ahead of its time that lawyers weren’t ready for it or willing to share their information. Over the years CRM has become synonymous with email marketing when it should be about engaging better with your clients and prospective clients.”
In a statement he adds: “Law firms have had few options when it comes to legal-specific CRM solutions and Peppermint Client Engagement offers a fresh and modern take; Peppermint Client Engagement is the new CRM.”
Beach will build strategic partnerships in the legal technology community and manage existing alliances with Microsoft, Wilson Allen, Introhive, and other selected partners.
Peppermint Technology Group’s CEO Gary Young said: “Bob has been a close associate of Peppermint for some time and instrumental in our early success in the US. His experience, approach, and ability to execute is a perfect fit for us, as we seek to get our software into the hands of as many attorneys and business developers/marketers as possible. We believe the legal sector is ready for a new CRM software platform.”