Materialise: From 3D printing to living a purpose

February 23, 2016 | Christophe Fauconnier

Business Challenge

The technology of 3D printing services is maturing fast. It starts to serve not only design engineers with prototyping needs, but also production engineers and startup entrepreneurs in their mini-series production needs. This however, is not how the engineering customers of Materialize, a global leader in the industry, felt. To open new opportunities, Materialize needed to help its commercial leaders transform the view of their clients on their technology.

Reframed as a Human Challenge
The challenge was building true empathy capabilities with a new set of customers, whose resistance towards new technology was high, whose willingness for change was low, and whose desire to stay in control of things was omnipresent.

The engineers or Materialize were focused on the technical wonders of 3D printing, when the difficulty was human: how to help potential new customers get beyond their habits to embrace totally new ways.

Our AHA moment
While guiding the management on several customer visits, we realized that we would never get production engineers to adopt this new technology if we could not get them on our side of the table. We looked at them as difficult solution buyers, and we had to rather see them as proud problem solvers. Engaging their identities as engineers during the commercial process allowed them to embrace new solutions – when presented with new challenges, they themselves saw how 3D printing could be used to solve them – so much that they could design solutions that Materialize had not imagined.

This co-creative approach to sales was so successful that it led to the development of a new division, developing ad hoc services.

What makes us proud
“By  helping sales people see with the eyes of their buyers, and buyers see with the eyes of the sellers, we  helped the biggest business unit of MATERIALIZE to double their production in less than 4 years. This approach led to the repositioning of the entire company as the “innovators you can count on”. The design and implementation of  a new business development approach became a true manifesto of the company’s mission and principles.”  Christophe Fauconnier, Innate Motion


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