design-engineerRight now you are either on a desktop, tablet, or smart phone reading this. Stop reading and look at your device. Do you have any idea how many steps it took for this piece of technology to exist?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

Someone had to identify a need and listen to the requirements, then figure out how to make that dream a reality.  Who does this?  Each day design engineers all over the world are solving puzzles for the projects they are tasked to create.

Their work results in the next tech gadget, a safer car, or clean water to drink. Let’s take a look at who these folks are and how they get the job done.

Design Engineers

Design engineers thrive on finding the solution to the challenge at hand. So you need to move 1000 lbs of volatile material over 600 ft in one minute with minimal vibration while maintaining a completely nitrogen based environment? No problem, these folks are on it! 

The entire company looks to them to provide the direction necessary to design the machine or process needed to produce the desired end result. As it is their job to find the answer, they spend a large percentage of their time researching products and services that could contribute to the overall system to solve the problem.

This persona is your first opportunity to get your products into new or redesigned systems or assemblies. It is their job to identify all necessary components, generate the needed drawings for the manufacturing team, create the required “shopping list” for procurement, and trouble shoot any performance problems of the design.

Stress Created By

The design engineer is constantly chasing to find the perfect solution to the latest design challenge.  If the solution is delayed or can’t be identified, the design engineer has failed and the project is stalled; costing time and money.


This persona is usually on the shy side with less interest in being outwardly social.  They avoid direct communication with suppliers unless absolutely necessary and are extremely risk averse.  Everything is well thought out and calculated. (PRO TIP:  When a design engineer converts on a contact form with a gmail address, use the Hubspot Prospects Tool to see if their IP address is owned by a manufacturing organization!)

Typical Day

A CAD modeling system will be open on their desktop monitor for the majority of the day. Over that will be multiple internet browsers used to research various products capabilities, and custom manufacturing services available. As solutions are identified they are added to a large assembly model of the end design as the new products are designed to be manufactured.

The list of readily available products and required custom components for the project are supplied to the Procurement Manager as a Bill of Materials (BOM).  On the BOM the design engineer will regularly reference OEM products by brand name, part number, and certain attribute specifications.

Desired Content

They are interested in form, fit, and function.  The more information you can provide on dimensions, performance capabilities, graphs, curves, drawings, operational specifications, acceptable ranges for environmental conditions, and physical properties, the happier the design engineer will be. Keep it to the facts, they do not react well to “fluff”.

Influence on Buying Process

The design engineer is responsible for asking for the exact products or services he needs to solve the problem.  They get suppliers in at the very early stages of a project. They develop trust in brands and will advocate for certain products or suppliers because they believe it will reduce the risk associated with the success of the project.

Now look at your surroundings.  See all that stuff?  Yep, all of that had to go through a design engineering team too. As you create your next round of marketing content, remember that the design engineer is counting on you for help solving the puzzle!

If your products or services are appropriate for Design Engineers, they are probably applicable for Procurement Managers and MRO Managers (look for these in next blog installments) as well. Learn more about the 3 most influential personas in the industrial buying process in our free guide below!

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Originally published May 15, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017


Buyer Personas