Sales Return

Project vs Product



February 16th , 2011

This is one of those incidents which kind of made us sit back, think and then forced us to take corrective action. Today when I look around, I see some of the industry leaders are doing just what we did few years ago.

I was on a sales call with a company engaged in the business of engineering, procurement & construction. They build these pharmaceutical plants etc. That time we called ourselves a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management). I met the director (a smart IITian, late 40s). The moment he heard my Product Lifecycle Management Pitch and saw our fancy brochure with Product word all over, he was kind of disappointed and made the following remarks ” You have come to wrong place. We don’t do products. We only do projects and that’s what we plan to do for the next 20-30 years”. Well, based on my homework with the company’s website and my own knowledge of our product, I knew he could use several modules of our software. But this Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) pitch was a non-starter with him. I used all my sales acumen and pleaded him to take a look at our product demo for 10 minutes and there are no commitments. He was non-committal, but I guess he was also a little bit embarrassed for having kept me waiting for over 45 minutes. Finally, he relented and decided to give me those 10 precious minutes. Well and then a miracle happened, my 10 minutes of demo actually stretched to almost an hour. He even ordered some tea and biscuits. His final comments were ” This is what I need. However, you should rename this as Project Lifecycle Management for us.” I closed the deal in the next 7 days with PO reading:

TouchBase, Project Lifecycle Management Software, On Premise Installation, 20 Perpetual Named Users.

We made the deal but the incident remained with me. In our next monthly sales meeting (where everyone on the team shares their experience), I narrated the whole thing to everyone. People heard the story without moving their eyelid. Our whole company was built around this Product Lifecycle Management and several of our potential customers saw this as project lifecycle management. Well in the next 60 days we thought and debated. We also reviewed as to what are some of the comments made by other customers. We found that we have another Jewel called "Process" or workflow management which many of our customers wanted. Finally, we realized we do Projects, We do Processes and we do Products. So we are 3PLM (Project, Process & Product Lifecycle Management) company. We test marketed the idea & it was well accepted. We pioneered the word 3PLM, even got it registered. Now we have an easy to understand pitch for both projects and Products company and none of our salesmen run the risk of non-demo because of the content of our pitch. Now I see that global leaders in PLM like CIMDATA & in fact, the whole industry have started talking of 3P’s where registered a way back.

We as a company are way too young to say that others are following us, but it does give us a satisfaction that we were ahead of biggies in our thought process & approach. I always tell our potential customers that we may not match the infrastructure of our bigger competitors, but we match or exceed them in our thought process and speed of execution. This is reflected in our products and services. I am privileged to have been a part of this pioneering spirit which keeps my job very interesting. I will walk you through the concept of 3PLM on another day for now i want to look for my evening cuppa of tea. Cheers!


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