Altium’s Sales Plan: Deal Directly with Designers


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Altium has been shaking up the EDA world for quite some time. The Australian company once slashed the cost of Altium Designer by 75% to grow market share, and who could forget their famous (or infamous) “Bunny” ad campaign? In this email interview with Lawrence Romine, Altium’s global head of field marketing, he shares his views on sales and marketing in the EDA world, as well as Altium’s philosophy on selling EDA tools.

ANDY SHAUGHNESSY: For anyone who may not be familiar with Altium, give us a quick background on the company and your software tools.

LAWRENCE ROMINE: Altium has a rich history, starting out in 1985 as one of the first providers of PCB design tools and over time developing into one of the market leaders. Our growth over the past 5 years has exponentially exceeded the CAGR of the industry. We are the fastest growing EDA company at present.

SHAUGHNESSY: What is your philosophy regarding sales? Altium is known for being the “rebel” EDA company; does that attitude guide your sales process?

ROMINE: Simple. Altium has always had a focus on the user as opposed to “the people in the corner offices,” and this has really added an extra gear to Altium’s growth as we exited the early 2000s. Whereas the focus in the 90s and early part of the 2000s was primarily cost and highly regulated design processes, now the focus is on having an agile design process in which the tool selection process was returned to the users. The combination of Altium’s focus on empowering its users and our sales and marketing approach has served us very well in this new environment.

SHAUGHNESSY: Do you use direct salespeople or reps, or both? What are the advantages and challenges for working with each?

ROMINE: We have predominately direct sales, with a handful of exceptions. Now that the users have the buying and decision power, and access to limitless information directly related to the use of the product, the resale channel becomes challenging. In this environment where a reseller is not exclusively covering just our products, often the customer is more knowledgeable than the sellers. Moreover, the pace at which our products are developed further challenges the reseller model and creates “information asymmetry.”

SHAUGHNESSY: How do you identify potential customers? And what is a typical time frame for making a sale?

ROMINE: Because our PCB design products cover all facets of the market (from “makers” to agile enterprises), we are now literally applicable to any company that designs PCBs. Our typical sales cycle is measure in days to weeks.

SHAUGHNESSY: For the big EDA companies, making a sale usually means converting someone from a rival’s EDA tool. But I know designers who use Altium as well as another design tool. How do you make your case to that sort of potential customer?  

ROMINE: This is not unusual, no. Historically, when we saw this, our users in these companies would say, “We keep Altium around for when we want to do something fast.” As the industry has pivoted to agile processes, our footprint has grown dramatically as everything needs to be developed fast and our products really empower the users to make the most of the creative process. Whereas the older enterprise solutions of the ‘90s and early 2000s are typically punitive to the creative process.

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

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