There is typically a sequence of phases that a customer goes through when deciding to buy something.
As a fundamental rule, the sales cycle must be described from the customer’s perspective.
The first phase of the sales cycle may be either the customer’s perception of a product or service, or a perception of a need that the product or service might satisfy. The following steps include research and evaluation; the last step is the customer’s decision to purchase the product or service.
Buying Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) is not just about purchasing products and licenses. It comes with implementation, education and support services to align people, processes with technologies, and realize business benefits. The PLM business case requires deep understanding of business maturity and future growth plans to define the right level of investment considering:
- Business priorities, requirements and challenges.
- Expected year on year business benefits.
- Ability to absorb change, adopt PLM, transform the business taking into account cultural factors affecting speed of adoption.
- PLM roadmap mapped against business areas, product maturity and New Product Development and Introduction (NPDI) timing plans.
- Enterprise-IT landscape inter-dependencies, integration and interface requirements, asset retirement and archiving strategies.
- Step changes vs continuous improvements.
Investing in PLM requires a business change mindset and the ability to think strategically for long term returns of investment, keeping and sustaining the vision throughout implementations. In many cases, PLM investments are typically owned by IT due to the nature of PLM (as an enterprise IT-enables business solution) and the perception that PLM might have in the Engineering communities (as being an administrative burden to innovationand creativity). However, most successful PLM adoption stories relate to business-led selection and implementation projects or programmes. Organizations do not necessarily have to ‘think big‘ to deploy successful PLM solutions, and incremental changes are likely to be required to allow for cultural changes. It is true however that, the wider the PLM scope, the greater potential return of investment; but also, the greater the risk of failure. Successful implementations require robust mitigation strategies and robust ongoing deployment planning.
PLM is a strategic value-driven eco-system that bridges Product Development (PD)Operations, PD IT and enterprise IT. PLM is much on the agenda of PD and Engineering Directors, as well as CIOs, Heads of Innovation and strategy, CEOs and MDs. Often, the latter are required to be primary PLM sponsors to enable top-down enterprise-wide business transformation strategies.
Selling PLM products is typically constrained by PLM vendor relationships and related Value-Added Re-seller (VAR) channel management strategies. While selling PLM services requires understanding of the above buying principles – deeply rooted in Engineering and IT (but also expanding into other business functions such as procurement, finance, manufacturing, etc.), coupled with a certain appetite for risk management with the ability demonstrate and execute the appropriate mitigation plans.
What are your thoughts?
This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 11 July 2015.