How To Use CAD Models To Drive Lead Generation

Digitized information can help to make the sourcing process simpler and more efficient — especially for complex industrial parts, ultimately helping manufacturers generate more leads.

Manufacturers are increasingly optimizing their product data offerings with CAD files, drawings and configurable components, differentiating their digital customer experience from their competitors. Why? Because more engineers are downloading CAD files and demanding access to digitized product information in the formats they need to get the job done.

So if you're looking to drive more sales, read on to learn how to provide CAD models from your website.

CAD-software

How Does An Online CAD Model Solution Work?

In the past, it was common that an engineer would speak with a supplier about his or her need for a part or component, from what they would use it for to the exact dimensions that they required. The supplier would then provide a drawing by fax or email, and 30 minutes or more of conversations would follow, along with additional drawings until both sides agreed on the "perfect fit." 

Today's and tomorrow's newer technological capabilities enable engineers to find and build the part they need online, download a 3D model, insert it directly into their design, and immediately assess its fit. The direct insert also reduces risks of "$10,000 mistakes," which can easily occur when one wrong spec gets picked up by an individual engineer, who copies it into several colleagues' systems. 

Manufacturers should work with a technology solution that makes the collaboration between engineers and their suppliers more efficient. A CAD software that is agnostic (will work with any brand) and includes a viewer is highly recommended. What makes engineers' job easier is a solution that has the ability to configure drawings to create customized parts — making millions of design variations possible.

Why Do You Need An Online Product Catalog?

Expand your company’s influence over a new generation of professionals by utilizing modern tools — an eCatalog rather than simply a digitized version of your old paper catalog.

Today’s B2B professionals expect to easily search, discover and select your products from their desktop, mobile phone or tablet wherever they are and digitized catalogs make that happen. An eCatalog should show all the details they need to make informed specifying or sourcing decisions and make their job easier:

  • CAD files
  • Submittal drawings
  • Performance characteristics
  • Configurations
  • Accessories
  • Pricing 

Some quick CAD asset statistics when you're considering how to create the most engaging experience with your customers and drive leads:

  • CAD models create sales leads at a 2.5x greater rate than text-based product information
  • 89% of designers only select components from manufacturers who provide CAD models online
  • Up to 88% of businesses ultimately buy a part after downloading a CAD file
  • 94% of designers will also specify that same part for future project again

To learn to get your CAD files in front of 27 million design engineers today, click here to learn about the Thomas TraceParts Network.


Database-driven and always up-to-date, dynamically generated CAD files gives your customers 24/7 access to the data they need with the confidence they are getting the most current versions of your products. They are more than just a list of parts and SKUs; they’re an entrance into your sales system and a powerful marketing tool that clearly tells customers the kind of company they are dealing with. This not only differentiates your company in the eyes of busy engineers but provides visibility into the people, companies and projects that your products are getting into.

Online CAD Solutions Improve Engineering Productivity And Reduce Errors

Let's walk through a scenario if you were an engineer. If your design calls for an AC inverter, you would go online to:

  1. Search manufacturers on Thomasnet.com for the parts you need. (Quick tip! They can't find you if you're not listed, so list your business for free here.)
  2. Once you have identified suppliers that offer CAD drawings, you can conduct a parametric search to narrow down results by your detailed specifications.
  3. To narrow down your decision further, you would also search the sites of those suppliers of interest for related information (pricing, related products, certifications, etc.)
  4. Then you can compare parts side by side, and download the closest matches.
  5. After you download the file, you can insert the desired part directly into your design. You can choose a variety of views—front or back, top or bottom, or right or left side.

An online CAD solution also generates and delivers the bill of materials for the part inserted, including the manufacturer's name, the specific part number and all of the detailed specifications. This makes it easy for everyone involved in the buying process and virtually eliminates the possibility for error during specifying and purchasing.

Improve Your CAD Deliveries

Industrial products often come in thousands of combinations and require a heavy amount of configuration, sometimes requiring hours of engineering work to assist customers and fulfill their design requirements. Online configuration systems help internal sales engineers and customers configure products right from your website — in real time. It even increases your chances of getting found on Google because of the use of product SKU numbers and other keywords.

Related Info: Learn More About Getting Found On Google

Begin by collecting your existing CAD files and partnering with a product data solution expert to turn your CAD data into high-value downloadable 2D and 3D assets. A CAD Engine will then deploy your product data to your website, platforms, and portals of your distribution channels, where your customers can confidently spec your products knowing they have the most up-to-date data.

Customers are more easily able to access and choose your complex and configurable products from anywhere, 24 hours a day — establishing your company as a resource for your client and makes it easy to complete their jobs.

Partner With An Expert To Convert Your CAD Data Into Downloadable Assets

Online CAD solutions have transformed the industrial buying process and offer a precise way to easily do business today. They generate high value leads, provide actionable market data, and convert 2.5 times more than text-based content.

Is your company ready to deliver what users needs, wherever your products are found? Send us a message to see how you can expand your company’s influence on a new generation of professionals — regardless of location — save time, encourage productivity and generate greater return on investment for everyone. 

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