Harnessing Emotions: How to Ask the Right Questions During PLM Sales?

Harnessing Emotions: How to Ask the Right Questions During PLM Sales?

I wrote an article about 5 Opportunities and 5 Obstacles in Engineering Digital Transformation. In the article I shared my thoughts about how modern PLM software can leverage current trends and technological opportunities that exist in the engineering industry landscape and market today. One comment to the article I’ve got from Jos Voskuil was about how to make business “enthusiastic” about the opportunities. I captured the following picture from the comment:

To be enthusiastic about some topics and decisions is a great thing. But it made me to think more about various aspects of PLM decision making and sales process. How can we make people to feel enthusiastic about following digital transformation opportunities and avoiding obstacles. In my article today, I want to talk about PLM sales and emotions. Or, in other words, how we can emotionally impact people decisions related to Product Lifecycle Management.

The Art of PLM Sales

I wrote a few articles about sales practices related to product lifecycle management, product data management, supply chain management, document management, and product development process. Product’s lifecycle and designing and business products requires sophisticated solutions. Selling or buying PLM solutions is a complex process where the decision to buy a PLM system or implement a specific PLM strategy are not belonging to a single person and not coming easy in a single step. Here are links to some of my articles about product lifecycle management (PLM) sales:

PLM Sales Chet Sheet

The art of PLM sales

Is engineering focus killing your PLM sales?

How to sell PLM to engineers

I also recommend the the following article Unstoppable PLM playbook for successful implementations where I speak more about how to setup a framework and a process to transform engineering and manufacturing process and organization with PLM software and strategies.

The conclusion about how to succeed in PLM sales and implementation strategy is complex and brings a mix of logic, economics, change management, technology and… emotions. The last one is often plays a driving force in our decision about PLM (and not only). Let’s talk about it in more details.

7 Emotionally Charged Questions To Sell PLM software

In business, we like to be logical and precise. Especially, when it comes to engineering and business processes. Together, it leads us to the point where we think that we make logical and balanced decision. As much as we like to think about it, the reality is often very different. We make decisions based on how we feel about a specific PLM sales teams, product (and software vendor). After been involved in multiple PLM selection processes organized by industrial vendor, I can say that making a decision using pure logic is nearly impossible.

Here are 7 questions you can ask a prospect to develop a powerful influence on their purchasing decision. They involve 7 powerful emotions I’m sure you’re familiar with: fear, frustration, hope, excitement, anger, FOMO, desire to be first.

  1. Fear: Things are going wrong and companies are afraid of that. Let’s be honest. Companies are establishing PLM strategy and buying PLM software to improve their processes and data management. It means “before” things can be really bad. But people are afraid to talk about it. Don’t try to force them to talk about it – sometimes it is very hard and create a negative reaction (people don’t like to know your dirty secrets). Talk to your prospect about what will happen if things will continue to go the way they go now. It will drive them to fear of getting even in the worst situation then now. Example, fear of not be compliant and not to follow regulation are real. If you cannot prove you don’t use any RoHS compliant components because you don’t track them properly using Excel can be a big deal.
  2. Frustration: People like to excel in their work and they want to be successful. When something doesn’t go the way it should, people are getting frustrated and looking for a way to solve problems. You should learn more about “what is happening right now” and what people don’t like. Ask people to talk about their pain points, complexity, things that are not working or something they are trying to do for a long time without much success. The more a prospect will talk about problems, the more they will be ready to use. your solution to get rid of frustration.
  3. Hope: As much as a status quo can be bad, people are always looking for something that will come and fix their frustration. There is alway a place for a hope in our lives. You need to lead people to a “better tomorrow”. This is a powerful strategy that you can trigger by picturing a “before vs after” slides or telling stories about how things will go well after.
  4. Excitement: Are you interested? This is one of the fundamental measurement that helps sales people to understand if there is a potential to “close the deal”. AIDA (attention, interest, decision, actions) – remember that famous Glengarry Ross movie? Interest and excitement are connected. For many prospects, technological novelty will be enough to get them going. You can show demos and open up with some technological foundation of your solution and you can get going because you “touch the nerve” of engineers of executives that like and excited about the opportunity. Hearing about th new things is the key to drive their enthusiasm.
  5. Anger: This strong feeling comes after frustration, but it is very powerful. Imagine a manager that failed in their decision and cannot accomplish some goals. Imagine something that doesn’t work for a long time, data that is not available, processes that are not working, etc. Your goal is channel such a powerful emotion such an anger into something that can be productive – for example, for a hope that a new solution will solve a problem that was unsolved for the last 5 years or similar. It is a powerful move and you should know how to leverage that.
  6. FOMO: I’m sure you’ve heard about FOMO (fear of mission out) at least once. It is a very specific fear that happens a lot in a competitive environments. People don’t like to be responsible for losing the opportunity, or leveraging a good deal or something similar The best technique is to use customer testimonials and numbers showing how much progress customers made and how statistics demonstrate that companies that not using their solution will be behind strategically.
  7. Desire to be first: Engineers and manufacturing companies are extremely innovative and like to be first. There is a strong desire in a technological or business processes to demonstrate how innovative you are and you found and implemented something that will build some sort of uniqueness compared to others. You can talk to a prospect how successful they will be ahead of anyone and how they will become an industry leader as a result of developing and implementing the software you sell.

What is my conclusion?

Appealing to emotions is a strong move. Don’t try to be purely logical in sales. People are strange creatures and although they like to sound logical and scientific, the decision is usually not always logical. After making technological and business assessment, people are getting emotionally charged and making their decisions based on a mix of feeling and logical factors.

Just my thoughts… In my next article, I will speak about how to develop sales strategy and pitch to use emotions in PLM sales.

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital-thread platform with cloud-native PDM & PLM capabilities to manage product data lifecycle and connect manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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