As a design engineer, I was very friendly with salespeople and field applications engineers (FAE). They brought me samples, they let me know about new parts, they occasionally got me a development board and they loved to offer better pricing if I guessed at the estimated annual usage (EAU) of a particular part. Plus I was lucky to have many salespeople that were friendly people who cared about what was going on in my life (for the most part). This made it slightly more enjoyable to stop what I’m doing and go talk to them, even when they did a “pop-in”.
If you’re uninitiated, a “pop-in” when you get a call from them or from a receptionist at your company lobby, mentioning that the salesperson happened to be in the neighborhood. They ask if I would be interested in meeting for a few minutes. The salesperson gets to check in on my design needs (and if I’m actually designing using their parts) and I might possibly hear about new parts being released. Increasingly, I had to decline this invitation and not simply because it was unscheduled. From stories I hear about the “old days”, salespeople from manufacturers and distributors would set up shop in a conference room (or be given a semi-permanent office at the company) and the engineers would come to them. These days, all of these meetings are happening less and less. Why?
- Engineers are more pressed for time — It’s no secret that companies are trying to do more with less. Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, the concept of “right sizing” means fewer engineers in departments with no change in expected output. Sure, engineers have the benefit of easier-to-use prototyping tools and more highly integrated ICs for their designs; but there hasn’t been any change to the number of hours in the day. If an engineer is being pushed by their boss to finish a design by the end of the week, it’s unlikely the engineer will have time to go hear about new parts from a salesperson.
- Engineers have fewer opportunities to hear about parts — The other fallout from 2008 and onward is the mounting financial pressure on manufacturers and distributors. They too have fewer members in their ranks, meaning that only the biggest customers get visits and technical support (in person), because of the cost for each additional sales or field engineer is significant and must be tied to additional revenue.
The net result of this? In a world where information is plentiful (especially about electronic components), it can be harder than ever to discover new components for your design. It is now left to you to uncover the best part for your design without any outside help.
This is where Parts.io excels and we hope that you find value. Discovering a new part that is the best technical fit for your design, is reasonably priced and is readily available for manufacturing can be a difficult combination. Having a range of filtering and sorting that makes sense for you is our priority because we want to make sure that you learn about the right part for your design, regardless of when it was released. As we continue to open up the alpha program we look forward to hearing from even more of you and improving upon how you find your next part.
Do you find that you’re meeting with salespeople less than in the past? Please let us know in the comments.
Thanks to Prayitno for the picture of the Getty Center Lobby (a fine place to meet if given the opportunity)