SSA have crossed a Rubicon. We’ve employed a salesman, and unlike every other employee of SSA he’s never made a finite element model. Not even for fun.
Although I’m 100% convinced that this is the right thing to do, it does raise some interesting questions. It always seemed to me that in the past the sales approach of HKS was “Abaqus is the best code in the world and if you don’t know about it its your problem not ours”. You could laugh if it hadn’t worked so well. However it worked in the context of a specific market, and that specific market was definitely not mass.
But as a reseller we have to sell code to survive, and more than that we’ve got to grow. Running a business is like being the Red Queen in “Through the Looking Glass”.. (Google that and Matt Ridley if you don’t know where I’m headed on that one.) And that’s the issue – there seem to be few markets as resistant to the sales process as engineering simulation. Possibly it’s the type of people involved. Time for an insulting generalization. Pretty early on in my CAE career I worked out you that could tell which courses trainees had come for as they walked across the car-park. If they looked like they had been in the Shed at Stamford Bridge at the weekend; CAD, if they looked like they had been in a shed all weekend; FEA.
So how do you sell to Simulation engineers, a group of people not generally known for pushing the limits of the social envelope? Not easy.. Especially in a challenging environment, and one in which our leading competitor has adopted a definite hard sell approach. Sit and wait for people to come to us and we’ll go out of business and some really impressive technology might as well not be; over do it and your potential customers don’t engage properly, if at all. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that the high impact approaches beloved of the CAD mid-market don’t yield results. Success probably comes down to creative marketing, and campaigns that reward people for making contact – so whatever happens we’ll be carrying on with the free training events, adding a download section to our website, and generally trying to attract the usually reticent target market to what we are doing.
It’s a fine line we have to walk, but hopefully our new man can stride it….