Are We Facing the End of PLM Sales as We Knew It?

Are We Facing the End of PLM Sales as We Knew It?

PLM Sales is one of the topics, I have a special passion for blogging about. Some of my previous articles about PLM sales, in case you missed that:

PLM Sales Cheat Sheet
How to not suck in PLM Sales
The art of PLM sales

In the last four months in COVID19, we learned a lot about how the pandemic is changing the world – technology, business, shopping, lifestyle. Today, I want to talk about how the COVID19 pandemic will be re-shaping PLM sales.

The reality of air travel is brutal. You can see stats published by Airline and TSA report. The image says everything you want to know.

But the forecast is even more interesting. My attention was caught by a Bloomberg article – U.S. Airlines Face End of Business Travel as They Knew It.

“It is likely that business travel will never return to pre-Covid levels,” said Adam Pilarski, senior vice president at Avitas, an aviation consultant. “It is one of those unfortunate cases where the industry will be permanently impaired and what we lost now is gone, never to come back.”

At stake is the most lucrative part of the airline industry, driven by businesses that accepted — however grudgingly — the need to plop down a few thousand dollars for a last-minute ticket across the U.S. or over an ocean.  Business travel makes up 60% to 70% of industry sales, according to estimates by the trade group Airlines for America.

That’s under threat in the wake of an unprecedented collapse in passengers that started four months ago. Half the respondents in a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs said trips at their companies would never return to what they were before Covid-19, according to Fortune magazine.

How is it related to PLM Sales? Here is my take. The reality of PLM sales is a very long sales process including presentations, workshops, onsite visits, discussions with many representatives of the teams. To sell PLM means to take an entire company and sell them to PLM vision, benefits, and change process. And it requires many hours of meetings. As we are transforming from personal meetings to a variety of online tools, the question of how it will transform PLM sales is the one that made me think the most.

My personal experience of working with engineers and manufacturing companies online have started from PLM consulting and then continued with my work at OpenBOM. There are many factors that need to be taken into account – time zones, connection quality, language, and presentation skills. These are the same for everything we do online these days. Here are some specific PLM observations on what we can expect in the future of online PLM sales.

1- Online Materials

Companies are looking at how to learn remotely. The workshops and presentations will be transformed not only to happen online but also to happen over a longer period of time when both sides vendor and customer will be able to share information about PLM tech and products.

2- Requirements Presentation

Even a bigger challenge then online materials, we will need to figure out the way to collect requirements in a virtual form from manufacturing companies, their advisers, consultants located everywhere in the world. How to make these requirements available to everyone will be an interesting question to discuss.

3- Cloud enabled sales tools

While having tools like Zoom and others is a must-have, it is not enough for sales. It is time to invest in a cloud-based sales performance team. It enables the sales team to track metrics and communicate their progress on deals in real-time from anywhere, compared to their peers. Performance visibility is one of the key elements to help sales to perform remotely.

4- Online PLM tools

Last, but probably the most important. Access to real PLM tools online will be a big difference in PLM sales moving forward. Significant progress was made by PLM companies in cloud PLM development including hosted and SaaS tools. To be able to provide instant registration, testing, and experiments with the tool will not be an option anymore. Show me the tool -will be a new PLM mantra.

What is my conclusion?

We are facing the end of PLM sales as we knew that. I don’t expect things to get back to pre-COVID19. The change was forced on manufacturing companies, PLM sales, and consulting. There is no way back. There is a way forward to re-imaging the way PLM will be sold. An interesting thing that it will also drive the re-imagination of PLM itself. The need to provide online tools, evaluation, and technical platform will drive interest in infrastructure and tools that will naturally support collaboration and virtual environment. SaaS PLM tools and hosted testing environment will play a significant role together with video and other modern remote sales skills. If you’re in PLM sales, it is a time to learn new stuff. If you’re a PLM architect, it is time to think about new tech and products. 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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  • MarcL

    Believe you’re right about changes. The days when 20 or more people would pile into a conference room for 3+ hrs and then go golfing or to dinner are gone.

    In current circumstances companies want to engage & evaluate PLM virtually. Run real PoCs / pilots with actual data, not just see slick slides.

    We/Aras pioneered this type of 100% digital go-to-market over a decade ago, and it’s been our operating mode ever since. Everything online, self-service, software download or upload, your choice.

    We actually refuse to “push sell” at customers. Instead, we help you understand and prove out your use cases so you can determine if Aras is right for your enterprise.

    Means we are in a unique position to engage in a meaningful way with companies given the new normal.

    Will be interesting to see how the traditional relationship sellers at the other major PLM vendors compete (old dogs, new tricks?) vs newer digital GTM practices used by disrupters like both of us.

    Just my take.


  • beyondplm

    @disqus_iuGpWuL4eH:disqus thanks for the comment! I agree, no more workshops, golf and dinners. Therefore, I believe to have online PLM accounts is a key. At, our multi-tenant technologies allow to companies to start a real (not demo) account in minutes and experience the product and all features. Switching between subscription levels gives access to product features and also provide a unique way to support customers in real time.