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The Role of Marketing in Complex Solution Sales: using PLM as an example

The Role of Marketing in Complex Solution Sales: using PLM as an example

What role does marketing play in companies that sell complex engineering projects like PLM systems?

When your product is a multi-million dollar complex solution, a sale is the happy result of a lengthy process, sometimes taking several years.  Your company’s sales organization is best suited to manage these opportunities.  But that doesn’t mean marketing isn’t important.   

In this post, we’ll look into four ways that digital marketing can help the sales process for complex and expensive engineering projects, using a new product development environment / PLM system as an example. 

Sales teams are excellent at managing large complex opportunities. 

Sales teams can:

  1. Identify the companies who might need their PLM solution
  2. Introduce their solution to the prospects
  3. Investigate the existing product development systems at the prospect companies
  4. Help prospects understand the benefits of upgrading to a new solution
  5. Make sure that their company is on the list when prospects are considering a new system, or even assist the prospect in defining their system requirements. 
  6. Identify the key players at the prospect and build the relationships necessary to assist in their pitch. 

What steps of the selling process can marketing assist? 

There are four areas where marketing can really help.  If we consider the sales steps above, marketing is the most help at steps 1, 2, 4 and 5:

Marketing helps prospects identify themselves:

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 need
  • Imagining a solution for their problem that comes from outside their industry

Marketing establishes you as an authority in the field:

Marketing creates awareness among the decision makers who may not have heard of your solution

  • Awareness advertising in the online destinations where these people gather
  • Thought leadership stories and webinars get shared within prospect companies with the relevant decision makers

Content marketing for engineers brings home how your product is a fit:

Marketing creates the content that helps prospects understand the value of a new solution.  Stories in trusted publications are helpful here, as are informational webinars for prospects who want to learn more before suggesting a solution internally.

Branding to remain top-of-mind with your prospects:

Awareness advertising and thought leadership helps ensure that your company is on the list when a new project comes up.  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.

What Campaigns can Marketing Run to Make This Happen?

Marketers are excellent at finding the locations online where their target decision makers gather.  For the PLM example, marketers might zero in on a Linkedin Group about PLM or a targeted online PLM publication.  The next step is a combination of awareness advertising and thought leadership through posting their own blogs or hiring publications to do that for them. 

An unbiased online PLM publication can help you target PLM buyers

A PLM publication can help your marketing efforts


We have also found that webinars can be very helpful for prospects who want to learn about the experiences of other companies.

I hope you found this post useful.  If you are interested in learning more about PLM marketing, here is an online service for marketing PLM solutions.


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