The art of PLM sales

The art of PLM sales

PLM can be anything from business strategy to product and technology. To get companies to adopt PLM takes time and this is where I can see a lot of discussions and debates about complexity PLM. I will talk about complex vs simple PLM next time. Today I want to focus on PLM business, which means “sales”. All PLM vendors are business for profit, the question about how to sell PLM is one of the most sophisticated I ever met in enterprise and manufacturing business.

I will share some ideas about how to sell PLM. You probably had a chance to read some of my earlier articles about PLM sales. Truly, my favorite one is the following article –  PLM Sales Cheat Sheet. Still relevant in my view. Today’s article is mostly for sale and business people. It will give you an idea of how to find the right prospect for your PLM sales activity.

To sell PLM, you need first to figure out that people in a company are receptive to PLM strategies. Last decade changed a lot in a business of manufacturing companies, so it is really hard to find large manufacturing company that didn’t do any PLM related activity. Everyone manufacturing is strategizing the idea of PLM. These days companies are discussing how PLM can help to drive digital transformation projects. This is very good news for PLM sales. But still… not good enough. The adoption of PLM is slow and to sell PLM is still a major enterprise sales project.

Here is my hunch – manufacturing companies are buying and deploying PLMs about 3 times in their lifetime period.

The first time manufacturing company is buying PLM, they usually disappointed by the challenges and limitations. The lack of experience is the most typical problem. These companies get frustrated and will be taken over by the next competitor.

The second time the company buys PLM, very will believe that the first vendor they bought from was the problem and an obstacle to success. They will buy from a largest top vendor considering it is a safer choice (hey… nobody was fired because of signing a deal with IBM – this statement is still valid). And guess what, the story repeats, because in PLM the problem is not with vendor usually, but with a company itself.

Then, the company is ready for a third time PLM purchase. At this moment, since they are frustrated from the largest and maybe be smaller PLM vendor, they can think about going to companies competing with the largest vendor. It is hard in PLM since the supply of vendors is limited. Nevertheless, a customer will believe that 2nd best vendor will do a better job, because they “try harder” (hunch… everyone was renting from Avis)

And now, it is a perfect time to sell PLM to this company. Why so? Because at this moment, the company is ready for a real partnership with a PLM vendor. By that time, the company is familiar with the semantics of the problem, made enough homework, recognize constraints of using what PLM vendors sell and ready to make an adjustment by themselves to adapt and change their process.

What is my conclusion? The art of PLM sales is to find a company that is getting into their 3rd PLM deployment round. It is not a simple thing to do, but it will give you a maximum outcome and results. How to do so? In PLM market, you better focus on displacing of competitors. Finding failures in PLM can give you a good and mature pipeline of customers ready to get into a real partnership about PLM projects. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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