The SCG Blog

Taken: The Escalation Path for an Inside Sales Approach to Compliance

May 19, 2016


Jason Swan
Managing Director


It starts playing in my head as soon as I sense an infringer is ducking my sales team during a piracy engagement… “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career…”

It goes without saying that things never get this dramatic and the stakes are not life and death in the world of software license compliance. Instead, in my software piracy version of “Taken,” the rest of Liam Neeson’s most famous movie quote goes something like this: “If you comply now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will make you pay (for your licenses)…”

Just as Neeson is victorious in Taken and just as the plot line is still fantastic but exactly the same in Taken 2 and Taken 3, notification of software piracy almost always results in the customer paying for the stolen licenses. Infringers who shirk blame or choose to ignore repeated warnings just prolong the process, and irritate the software vendor and the compliance team.

We can do this the easy way or the hard way

The well-executed inside sales approach allows infringers the least painful and easiest way to ensure their technology landscapes are legal. Piracy business intelligence data guides an inside sales engagement, and the vendor knows there is illegal use. But with some 70 percent of pirates being current customers of the technology they’re infringing, vendors prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re perhaps unaware that this is happening in their environments. A C-level executive is notified of noncompliance via mail, and given a certain time period to investigate the matter. The company is then expected to buy licenses that will bring the entitlement into compliance in a timely manner.

Infringers who repeatedly fail to respond to attempts to become compliant often hide behind two excuses – they didn’t know it was happening, or that they were only evaluating the technology and not using the software in production. But ignoring repeated warnings won’t work – customers can’t hide forever, or really even for longer than a matter of weeks. If infringers don’t come into compliance, we can escalate by initiating legal action and follow through to settlement or litigation in court.

It pays to comply

Quicker compliance doesn’t only prevent costly litigation; it comes with a host of other benefits and avoidance of risk that could cost the customer much more than the prices of a few new licenses in the long run. Legal software use guards against security breaches. It ensures that employees have access to the latest functionality. It allows companies to maximize usage terms. It ensures standardization in business processes. In all, ensuring legal licensing usage positions the company to securely and efficiently carry out day-to-day business, and innovate its business processes for growth. The bottom line is that in most organizations compliance is mandated from the top, and C-level executives want to ensure that their organizations avoid the liability that comes with noncompliance. In fact, one software vendor we work with received a letter from a customer thanking him for alerting them in a non-confrontational way and working to resolve the noncompliance.

Whether the customer chooses to remediate the situation quickly, or attempts to drag it on, the outcome is the same – the customer will pay for those illegal licenses. When a customer has been engaged in a noncompliant situation, the software vendor and the representative are not going to stop until they feel they get what is owed. The quicker the customer becomes compliant, the fewer of those particular skills my team will have to use, the smoother the whole transaction will go and the better the overall value of the deal for both parties will be. 

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