Growth hacking PLM sales

July 1, 2015


Enterprise sales is one of the most conservative things in sales eco-system. Despite many changes that happened in our life for the last 10-15 years, this particular experience doesn’t change much. You probably heard best recommendation about how to stop “PLM sales” calling you – buy something from these guys. To sell multimillion dollar PLM deal to large manufacturing OEM is an art performance by a group of people mostly combined from a diversely skilled sales people with heavy support of management, development and… marketing. Let speak about last one – marketing. Do we really need one article – The role of marketing in complex solution sales brings a perspective on how modern digital marketing can help to sell complex PLM solutions. In a nutshell, I can summarize it as a creation of a credible story that can help sales people to make a sale. Few passages below can give you a feeling about what is that.

Some prospects that the sales team has not reached may identify themselves by reading thought leadership stories and realizing a PLM system may be what they needMarketing creates awareness among the decision makers who may not have heard of your solution. Marketing creates the content that helps prospects understand the value of a new solution. Thought leadership is a big part of the marketing mix for many engineering solution vendors. They routinely send speakers to conferences, for example, to demonstrate their command of technical challenges. These presentations translate very well to digital marketing, either as sponsored posts in trusted publications or as webinar presentations.

Nothing bad with creating of credible story. For a long time marketing was about how to amplify messages from vendor to customer. So, you may think about new digital technologies as a set of new tools that came to help traditional marketing to amplify their voices.

Here is thing – this wrong and old approach. To use modern content marketing with a traditional sales approach is like to put a lipstick on a pig. Guess what… it is still a pig. Few years ago, Andrew Chen wrote in his blog back 2012 – Growth Hacker is a new VP Marketing. If you never heard about growth hacking, navigate here to read more. The following passage can give you some perspective:

This isn’t just a single role – the entire marketing team is being disrupted. Rather than a VP of Marketing with a bunch of non-technical marketers reporting to them, instead growth hackers are engineers leading teams of engineers. The process of integrating and optimizing your product to a big platform requires a blurring of lines between marketing, product, and engineering, so that they work together to make the product market itself. Projects like email deliverability, page-load times, and Facebook sign-in are no longer technical or design decisions – instead they are offensive weapons to win in the market.

It made me think that new marketing approach can disrupt existing PLM paradigm of selling and implementing PLM products. Most of PLM products today are first sold and then implemented by customers. This process requires a lot of effort from customers to grasp around the PLM idea and thinking how to apply it in an organization. Growth hacking can change it. Few years ago, I posted – How to ditch old PLM marketing and friend engineers. It could be part of growth hacking for PLM sales.

What is my conclusion? Growth hacking can be an important moment for PLM software. By disrupting a traditional marketing and sales roles, growth hacking can change the core paradigm of PLM products – to change the way companies are doing business. Instead of that, the culture of growth hacking will introduce a practice of learning from customers and discovering opportunities to sell products solving customer problems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of sattva at


How to ditch old PLM marketing and friend engineers?

July 22, 2013

There is a chasm between old and new schoolers these days in many places and industries. I wonder if PLM will be different and will keep old school formation in everything – business models, marketing, technical solutions, etc. Few months ago I posted – PLM, Viral Sales and Enterprise Old Schoolers article that generated few very open and honest conversations with some of my friends – sales professionals.

Jos Voskuil made me think about new generation of people in PLM industry after reading his article about Product Innovation Apparel conference. Navigate to this link to read Jos’ post. Here is my favorite quote:

There is so much to learn from experiences in the apparel industry. The PLM market for apparel might be immature, the people implementing are not. They have picked up the modern way of PLM thinking in the context of business, instead of a focus on IT. Combined with the fact that it is less a male-only business, it opened my eyes, and other PLM consultants should do the same.

What do you think will be the right place to start PLM transformation? Here is the idea. Let’s ditch old school PLM marketing. The one that focus on big goals of PLM to control all development processes and systems in the company. You might be shocked. The fundamentals of PLM for many years was focused on how PLM implementation can focus on setting up processes in organization and controlling product information. On the grand scale of possible transformation you can think about that as a right approach of value added sales. However, it brings so much change and disturbance in organization. Old PLM folks, you are right by showing a potential problems in organization. However, people hate you for this. And if change is hard, they will not make it happen without stick of CxO sponsoring and big organizational committees.

So, what is the alternative? Here is an idea. Let make PLM “to friend” engineers. In fact, none of them likes PDM or PLM. Most of them won’t be even able to explain what PLM suppose to do for their company. However, I’m sure engineers have problems. And one of the most complicated problem they have is communicate with rest of the company. This communication is not easy. The traditional waterfall product development approach keeps engineers behind the firewall. This firewall is making communication complex in two directions. It is hard to share information from engineering. However, it is extremely hard to get information from outside world and make it available and usable inside of PLM organization. So, new generation of PLM systems will make communication of engineers, sharing data and work on engineering BOM much easier than before and turn engineers to best friends.

What is my conclusion? Old schools value promotions are still here. However, in my view, it is very hard to make it work efficiently and drive future success in implementing PLM systems. Next gen of PLM will remove “PLM marketing” tag and come to people to help share data and communicate across organization more efficiently without barriers and complexity. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy HBR blog.

5 Overused Buzzwords in PLM marketing

May 28, 2013

Technology field is deeply surrounded with different type of buzzwords. The terminology is a complicated part of enterprise software and PLM marketing is probably one of the most confusing zones. In general, buzzwords don’t mean something bad. However, when overused can lost their meaning for customers.

As part of having fun and blogging process, I’m following lots of other blogs and social media channels about PLM. I decided to come with a list representing the most overused PLM marketing buzzwords. This is not statistical research, so don’t blame me for accuracy. Also, these buzzwords are not unique for PLM and you can meet them in other fields as well. Here is here is my top 5 list – 1/ Value proposition; 2/ OOTB; 3/ Experience; 4/ Community; 5/ ROI.

1. Value Proposition – a promise of value as a result of specific product, component or technology usage. Value proposition is usually comes as a result of analyzes of benefits, cost and values of product/ technology to organization. The biggest problem of value prop definition in PLM is related to the cost. It is usually missing. The term is overused without specific characteristics applied to an organization.

2. OOTB (Out-of-the-box) – represents an ability of software and/or components to be implemented without specific customization and/or development services. Usually assumes features that can be used immediately after the installation. The problem of OOTB is over-promise of OOTB features with following consulting and service agreements.

3. Experience. The original concept of "experience" is coming from the ability of user to know how to use a particular software. For the last few years, "experience" became a powerful, but unfortunately very overused term claiming practically everything in terms of how to improve use of software including sales process and end user interface.

4. Community. The term comes from outside and not specifically related to software world. Usually, it is group of people sharing common interest. During the last 10 years, community term transformed into a measurable characteristic representing the group of people using your software. The problem of the term is the absence of a precise way to measure "community value" in enterprise software. It is different from Facebook and other social networks.

5. ROI (Return of Investment). Another very general term used to calculate the efficiency of investment measured as proportion of benefits of investment and cost of investment. The higher is better. The problem of PLM ROI is to be calculated on very long period of time without specific tangible benefits.

What is my conclusion? People are tired of overused expressions and buzzwords. Count all marketing buzzwords in the marketing campaign you plan to run next week – probably you need to review the content to make your marketing more human and meaningful. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Will Social PLM Work Only for Execs?

August 8, 2012

Social. New buzz. You can hear it in many places. After the tremendous success of social networking and web, many companies are trying to apply it in different domains. So, PLM does. I’ve been watching the activity of big companies and small startups in the intersection of social and PLM space – Social Product development by PTC, 3DSwYm Social Innovation by Dassault Systems, VuuchEnterprise Social Software, Nuage Social Business Collaboration – this is only a short list of products and companies chasing PLM social horizons.

Jim Brown, well-known industry analyst and my PLM blogging buddy, raised the question on twitter – Is Social Computing in Product Development Still Growing? You can navigate to the following link to read what is Jim’s opinion about the “social” topic.

Jim is running a survey on social product innovation and product development here. I recommend you to read blog and article written by Jim about social computing in product development. My favorite passage from Jim’s blog post is this:

My (Jim Brown) Belief. I am on the record saying I believe the use of social computing techniques in product development is inevitable. To me, there is an obvious benefit of pairing the “team sports” of innovation and product development with technology that helps teams better share information (within the team, with other experts, and with customers).

However, Jim doesn’t have a crystal ball. So, who has a different opinion? Navigate here to read Mashable article- 45% of Executives Think Social Media Has a Positive Impact on the Workplace. This article is quite interesting in the context of social product development. And here is a reason why. When 45% of execs are confident “social” has a positive impact, only 27% of employees agree. Here is a snippet of Mashable publication:

Executives think social media has a positive impact because it allows managers to be more transparent (38%), helps build and maintain relationships among colleagues (46%), helps build company culture (41%), and fosters a feeling of connection to the company and its leadership (37%)… However, employees disagree with their workplace superiors. Only 33% saying compensation and 24% saying financial performance have effects on company culture. Employees rank regular and candid communications (50%), employee recognition (49%) and access to management and leadership (47%) as having the largest impact.

What is my conclusion? I think vendors need to separate technology from marketing buzz. I can see cases when technologies and social media can create many opportunities for PLM vendors and companies. The examples are communication with customers, big data and others. However, I believe many of these values are not connected directly to all employees, which creates a concern from their side. In addition to that, I can see also how vendors are trying to wrap existing technologies into “social envelope” and hope for good. It is not gonna work. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


ACE 2012: Aras PLM and don’t be evil

May 2, 2012

The first day of ACE 2012 was quite energetic. This is my 3rd year at Aras Community Event. The first one in Chicago was quite small – less than 100 attendees. Aras claims 300 registered attendees this year. I can easily say that I counted ~250 attendees during Peter Schroer’s keynote presentation. Yesterday, I put my best guesses to explain why and how I can see Aras PLM different. Schroer’s keynote presentation was heavily loaded with “BE DIFFERENT” messages. It seems to me Aras is trying to take a position of a “good PLM” in the whole spectrum of PLM companies these days. Remember Google’s “don’t be evil” statement? I can see some similarities with Aras position.

However, let’s start from the original materials. Below, you can see 3 slides from Peter Schroer’s presentation explaining how Aras PLM is different.

The net-net of Peter’s slides to me can be summarized as following: 1/accept company uniqueness from the standpoint of product development processes and needs; 2/support company on going changes and make technology following company needs; 3/support business model with no upfront license cost to a customer;

What is my conclusion? I found Aras aggressiveness against so called “big-box” PLM vendors a bit annoying. At the same time, the majority of Aras customers already have PLM solution from other PLM vendors. So, maybe this language can speak directly to a customer pain. Who knows? Aras is trying to cultivate “don’t be evil” position in the market. Their business model with no upfront license cost is working well to establish this position. At the same time, “money talks, bullshit walks”. Aras needs to show a spectacular growth to prove their BE DIFFERENT model works. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Marketing and the future of PLM Art

April 5, 2012

One of the unpublished rules of PLM Think Tank is not to talk about marketing. Marketing is a tough job. Especially, when it comes to PLM space. The high level of diversification is a nature of every product development organization. The nature of marketing is to invent a story that convincing you to buy a product or solution. These two normally contradict. For those of your who following PLM marketing for the last decade can confirm – it is probably the funniest place in the world. Zillions of buzzwords, thousands of power point decks, videos and flyers.

I stumbled over something interesting yesterday. Have you heard about International Visual Communication Association? No? Me neither. Nevertheless, the tweet message by Bruno Delahaye prompted that his ENOVIA film won Silver Award at IVCA 2012.

Navigate to the following link to see the list of all winners. The film name is Enovia – Your World in Formation. Get cup of coffee and enjoy this 3.5 minutes of PLM drama including – idea, action, characters, language, music and… PLM spectacle.

What is my conclusion? Actually, I enjoyed the video. Is there any practical relation to PLM? Nah… I don’t think so. Any collaboration platform can be used for the same purpose. To me, it was a first evidence you can just enjoy PLM marketing. PLM Art in action. Just my thoughts… Excellent job, Bruno. Thanks for the video and congratulations!

Best, Oleg

PLM, Innovation and Getting Things Done

March 30, 2012

This week was extremely busy. I was traveling to attend Autodesk Media Summit in San-Francisco. You can read about it in my previous post. However, I wanted to talk about Innovation before this weekend. Have you heard about this buzz? It became so popular to talk about how software helps you to innovate these days. PLM vendors are joining this buzz as well. Well, everybody wants to be innovative. Easy answer. Obviously, I want to be innovative. Because it is so easy applies, PLM marketers took into the portfolio of PLM sales machine. The connection between PLM and Innovation became stronger for the last couple of years. You can see it on many websites of PLM-related companies and marketing materials. Almost two years ago, I posted – What are the metrics for PLM innovation? The idea was to discuss how you can measure innovation in the organization in order to prevent dilution of the term. Nevertheless, I believe the problem is still here.

I was reading Virtualdutchman blog of Jos Voskuil earlier this week about PLM and Innovation. Jos is taking the topic of Innovation in a very systematic way. Jos drives his conclusion about what are key company processes PLM can help you to innovate in. Read Jos’ conclusion below:

PLM does not kill innovation and although the PLM Vendor marketing is not very explicit, there are three areas where PLM supports Innovation. In a (subjective) order of priority I would say: 1/ New Product Introduction – bringing the highest revenue advantages for a selected invention; 2/ Invention discovery – by providing R&D a 360 view of their customers and market landscape enable inventions to happen in your company; 3/ Portfolio Management – to assist in selecting the right opportunities to focus.

I’m actually in agreement with Jos. PLM can help people to innovate. However, the story of innovation reminded me the story sales people were telling about the differences between vitamins and pain-killers. Vitamins are making your life better. Pain-killers are helping to remove your pain. It is very important to be able to innovate, take a right decision in NPD (new-product development) or discover for better ideas. However, in my view, it is all vitamins. Opposite to that, to have an ability to manage change processes, get access to the correct version of BOM or calculate product cost to be manufactured according to the specific order is something organization need to do every day.

It made me think about what is in people mind on a daily basis, so if PLM does it – people will use it immediately. Not innovation. I want to get a job done. Every day. People are absolutely dependent on tools that help them to manage everyday life activities – release drawings, run BOM changes, ordering components and product shipments. The following funny video of Kanban2go is not related to PLM, but it is so true.

What is my conclusion? People want to get a job done and go fo skydiving or skiing. I like the idea. However, the manufacturing planning process is frustrating. I cannot find my last drawings, or I need to re-build a product prototype from a baseline nobody can memorize or retrieve. There are many other frustrating tasks. In my view, to help people to get a job done will be the next big thing in PLM. Not to plan about 10-year future innovation (although it is important), but get rid of tasks standing between people and the weekend. I think PLM vendors need to take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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