Tag Archives: Suit

How Do You Identify New Customers? Four Alternatives

Situation: A company wants to expand its markets and customer base. Currently their business is dominated by a single customer. What best practices have you developed for identifying new customers and markets?

  • The key to getting new customers is to devote dedicated time to this task.
    • If your company is populated by engineer or software specialists, consider hiring a sales professional – a commission based hunter sales person who has experience landing big accounts in markets similar to yours. You may pay this person a good percentage of sales for brining in this business, but gaining the additional business can be worth it.
  • Much depends upon your relationship with your large customer. When a single client has rights over or ownership of the technology of the company but is not pursuing broader markets that the company is interested in, is it feasible to negotiate rights to pursue this business?
    • The larger client will pursue their own interests, not those of the smaller vendor. Perhaps a win-win deal can be worked out, but it may be difficult – particularly if the larger client is concerned that use of the technology in other markets could affect its interests in their primary markets.
    • Be very careful in this situation. The easiest tactic for the larger company to defend itself from a perceived threat is to sue and simply bury the smaller vendor through legal expenses. While the smaller company may be legally within its rights, deep pockets can beat shallow pockets through attrition.
  • In the case that the larger client simply continues to buy all capacity of the smaller company, an alternative is to raise rates, or perhaps to just say no.
  • Consider recreating the opportunity – create your own adjunct proprietary product with your own software or design talent and expand your horizons with this product.
    • Be aware, the large client can still sue if there is any appearance that your proprietary product impinges on their product rights. As in the case above, the larger company has the resources to bury the smaller company in legal expenses regardless of who is legally correct.

How Do You Respond To A Frivolous Lawsuit? Four Suggestions

Situation: A company sued a customer for non-payment. The customer had a long history of slow payment or payment only on threat of denial of service. The customer countersued and has offered to settle for a $7,000 payment. How would you advise the CEO to respond to this frivolous lawsuit?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • One option is to let the countersuit go to trial. The challenge is that if this ends up before a jury the outcome is a crapshoot and can be very stressful. You may win, but at a higher cost than to settle, and if the other party declares insolvency you may never recover your costs. You also have to deal with the distraction of the suit.
  • Another option is to respond very aggressively through your lawyer. This sends a message to the other party and may prompt them to lower or drop the settlement demands. If this doesn’t work and you aren’t a gambler, give up the $7K and walk away. However, if there is a way to make this the most expensive $7K that the other party ever collected, go for it.
  • You may decide on principal to prosecute the case to send a strong message to the market that others should not fool around with your company.
  • To prevent this situation in the future, assure that you have clauses in all your agreements to prevent future repetitions of this situation. Specify binding arbitration in the case of payment or performance disputes. Arbitration can be more effective and timely than litigation.

Key Words: Suit, Countersuit, Jury, Arbitration, Cost, Opportunity, Delinquency, Payment, Settlement, Clause