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How to Use Product CAD Models to Radically Increase Manufacturing Sales – Part 2

Executive Summary

In this 6 part series of blog posts we’ll present an up-to-date overview of how to use product CAD models to radically increase manufacturing sales.

The 6 parts are:

  • Part 1: Changing Sales and Marketing Trends Create High Impact Opportunity for Industrial Suppliers
  • Part 2: Who Should Use this Opportunity & What Benefits Should You Expect
  • Part 3: How to DO IT RIGHT – The Role of Search (Catalogs, SEO, SEM)
  • Part 4: How to DO IT RIGHT – The CAD Models (Obtain, Maintain, Present, Syndicate)
  • Part 5: How to DO IT RIGHT – The Business Model (including Partners and eCommerce)
  • Part 6: How to DO IT RIGHT – Common Mistakes to avoid

Below is Part 2 – the other parts will follow sequentially in the coming weeks.

Part 2: Who Should Use this Opportunity and What Benefits Should You Expect

Let’s Start with WHO should use this Opportunity?

All business to business (B2B) industrial suppliers (Manufacturers or Distributors) who sell components (gears, bearings, fasteners, etc.) or engineered parts (motors, gearboxes, etc.) to designers of other products*. This is why:

why:1. Ubiquitous use of CAD – Today, manufactured products (for both the Manufacturing and the AEC industries) are typically designed with 3D CAD. According to CAD Trends 2015, 81% of manufacturing companies now use 3D CAD modelling and that number continues to rise – forecast to be 83% in 2016. Designers of components, engineered products and final goods all use 3D CAD to design their products but designers of engineered products and final goods often use components and products from other suppliers. Therefore B2B suppliers of components and engineered products are most likely to benefit by providing CAD models of their products to designers.

2. Ubiquitous Use of Online Search – Designers, engineers and buyers increasingly search for and select products online. According to the 2014 IHS Engineering360 report, 2014 DIGITAL MEDIA USE IN THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR, “The primary uses of the Internet for engineers and technical professionals are to find components, equipment, services and suppliers (74 percent); obtain product specifications (73 percent); compare products across suppliers (69 percent); find pricing information (68 percent); and perform research (66 percent). Throughout all stages of the buy cycle—from needs analysis/research to comparison/evaluation and purchase—the top digital sources for information are search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites. If you want to ‘fish where the fish are’ then ensure your products can be readily found and selected online (we’ll expand on this in the next point and in Part 3;’The role of Search’) .

Typical Industrial Products that benefit from online marketing with product CAD models

3. A Website isn’t Enough – Suppliers need to

Typical Industrial Products that benefit from online marketing with product CAD models

3. A Website isn’t Enough – Suppliers need to meet this online search need with a highly visible, multi-channel digital marketing presence. That starts with an industrial website featuring online searchable product catalogs and/or CAD model catalogs and/or configurators (for those that sell configurable products). The online digital catalog within your website must meet the online user expectations for ease of use and always being up to date as well as automating many of your needs for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But because your customers use multiple digital resources to meet their informational and buy cycle needs your online presence doesn’t end with your website! Your position in search engines (including CAD search engines), social media, online recommendations, syndication of your product CAD models and online advertising all matter too.

4. The Buying Cycle has Changed – Digital media has made it far easier for your customers to perform the product research phase of their buying cycle online. The majority (59% – ref: IHS Engineering report) of engineers and technical professionals don’t make contact with suppliers until the latter stages of the buy cycle. Therefore, to be in contention, you must connect with potential customers early in their buying cycle – that means connecting online by virtue of your online presence and your product 3D CAD models. When one of your products is found, you can increase the likelihood of its selection by providing the product CAD model so it can be ‘designed in’. You will save designers’ time by enabling them to download and include your product CAD model in their new CAD design along with its part number and supply source.

5. The Buyers are Changing – About half of the engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next few years (ref: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Therefore the age of your target audience is becoming an important consideration for industrial marketers. Younger generations are more likely to use the internet so the above changes will likely accelerate. Obviously, you need to attract and cultivate younger engineers, designers and buyers as they form opinions then habits regarding suppliers and their products. Consequently industrial suppliers seeking marketing efficiency and cost reductions are increasing the proportion of their marketing budgets that is spent online.

What Benefits Should You Expect?

A Industrial part and component suppliers need a strategy to keep up with the changed product selection and buying process. Secondly they need alignment of their sales and marketing teams to implement that strategy together. Why? When customers ignore ads and avoid sales people as they research online, your sales and marketing teams need a new and collaborative approach to lead generation, nurturing and closing. In general that is inbound and content marketing specifically for components and engineered product customers of industrial suppliers. For those designers and buyers 3D CAD Models are a key type of content that aids lead generation, nurturing and closing. The new buying process is turned to your advantage by symbiotically helping customers and yourselves. Adding viewable and downloadable CAD models on product detail pages is valuable and highly relevant both for suppliers and their designer customers.

  • For Suppliers the high value and relevancy is having their products selected rather than competitors’, then ‘designed in’ and purchased. On average purchases occur 50% of the time a CAD model is downloaded.
  • For your Customers the high value is the saved time and increased productivity from downloading CAD models instead of drawing them from scratch. The high relevance is that the right part is selected and an accurate CAD model and other part details (e.g. part number) are ‘designed in’.

From a sales point of view you’ve reached the real decision maker, the design engineer and 77% of them rate CAD models essential, very important or important when selecting a supplier.

As Joshua Russell, Automated Systems of Tacoma put it,

“I view not getting 3D models from vendors as costing me money. If I can get a CAD file and a product that costs more, I will purchase it to save $$.”

CAD model downloads can generate low-cost, high-quality sales leads by requiring email registration prior to download. For one national distributor these leads cost ~90% less, convert faster and convert in higher proportion than traditional marketing sales leads. Download of a CAD model is also a sales trigger event, alerting you to the start of a new design that could be using one of your products. Immediate lead distribution to your sales team enables timely and astute follow up to help prospects and even expand the sales opportunity.

Other likely benefits include:

  • Obtaining a competitive advantage by offering product CAD downloads before your competitors do and so getting customers habitually using your website as a source of CAD models
  • Lowering costs – replace technical sales requests for CAD models with automated self-help downloads
  • Enhancing your distribution channel – enable all these benefits within your distribution and OEM channel partner’s websites
  • Content Syndication – once you have CAD models of your products you can syndicate them like any other content types across the web – for example see how many suppliers are found online at CAD model search engines like

Other references – If you’re interested in how to add CAD models as a content type and how to generate leads with them please see ‘The complete A-Z Guide to CAD Model Downloads for Industrial Supplier Marketing’ infographic, Frequently Asked Questions, A customer video gallery or these case studies: J.W. Winco (distributor), QTC (manufacturer), GAM Gear (manufacturer). As John Winkler, CEO J.W. Winco put it:

“The ROI has been tremendous, saving us literally thousands of dollars when calculating the time and effort we save! Sales lead generation from CAD models already far exceed that from our traditional marketing (paper catalogs, advertising, trade shows etc.).

* There are few exceptions; but one might be a hose supplier since the 3D CAD model might simply be a 3D tube that the customer’s CAD system can generate automatically. However if that supplier offers hose fitting too or configurable hose and fitting products CAD models (including the product codes) may be applicable.

The other parts of this Blog post series will follow sequentially. In the meantime please feel free to comment below, call us to discuss any questions you have or click either button below…

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