How Selling EDA Software Has Changed…or Not


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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. –William E. Hickson

Hickson, an elementary education reformer, popularized this proverb in the 1800s, but over a century later, it crisply sums up the art of sales and selling. There is a constantly expanding list of sales methods, theories, and strategies, but none of them mean a thing unless a salesman has the tenacity to keep trying.

Let’s look at how sales and marketing in the PCB world have evolved over time.

Marketing & Advertising

Prior to the boom in digital and mobile devices, print was the overwhelming vehicle for getting one’s name out there. Every vendor competed for ad space. Sales and marketing personnel fought over ownership of such ad space, and large amounts of sales revenue went right back into funding the designing and displaying of these ads. Everyone knew that the cover, inside cover, and back cover were pure gold as far as getting name recognition and sales leads, and the spaces were coveted and closely watched. Good ads and bad ads generated industry conversation. (Who remembers the Bunny ad campaign?)

Alongside advertising in print publications, postcard mailers were regularly distributed. Industry trade shows were full of buyers, often with transactions occurring on the show floor. Trade show booths were huge affairs that took days to assemble, with side rooms for negotiations and contract signing. Potential leads were showered with gifts both during and after the shows.

Outside of the shows, phone calls were common and pre-sale face to face meetings and demos were expected. It was not at all surprising for a software vendor to receive several telephone inquiries each day about the software. Inbound leads were commonplace, mostly because there was barely any competition in the EDA marketplace at the time. Prior to the rise of cheap hardware and easy-to-use Windows-based user interfaces, there weren’t many options for PCB designers, and certainly none that were affordable. When these engineers and designers saw advertisements in trade publications, a lot of them were excited to know there was another option out there.

But with the rise of Google, Internet 2.0, and later, HTML5, marketing and advertising have become a much more complicated affair. The rise of digital advertising creates a new, more complicated matter: how to be heard above all the noise. The Internet has seen such proliferation of advertising that we are all numb to it, annoyed by it, and actively trying to block it from our view. Print and digital advertising are an obligation for generating brand awareness in an industry, but they are no longer viewed as a method by which to gain an interested prospect. They are carefully measured for page impressions and clicks, and the price of each lead is separated into “cold” and “warm” leads, making simple print and digital advertising more expensive as the real leads dwindle into the ether.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the December 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

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