By Terry Nagi March 29, 2004 -- In my last piece, we concluded that successfully selling digital printing is no different then successfully selling traditional printing (other than the technology and the applications). This time, we concentrate on sales and customer service training, along with educating customers in ways of effectively utilizing and measuring the results of either versioned and one-on-one personalized, on-demand printing. The main training requirement for sales and customer service representatives is not necessarily in technology. The main training requirement for sales and customer service representatives is not necessarily in technology. (However, understanding the operation of the printers' digital press and what it does, what it does not, how it prints, where is it cost effective, how its printing is different than traditional sheetfed, and the ancillary services required to serve that press--such as electronic pre-press, data collection and management, binding and finishing--are still be important.) This training can primarily be the responsibility of the manufacturer, and early in the negotiations for the digital press, their participation in providing training to the sales people, CSRs and even customers should be written into the purchase contract. The most important training will be in the best applications (hopefully by industry) that have been well-served via personalized or versioned digital printing, requirements for creative and design, recommendations on database creation and management, best methods of transmitting information from customer or creative to the printer, and methodology for assessing the best ways of using targeted printing. Trade Associations This author is not as critical as some of his fellow industry consultants as to the roles of the printing industry associations and the actual manufacturers themselves in providing excellence in education (basically, as I was Executive Vice President of Printing Industries of America). Instead, what follows are several requests for the creation of appropriate training materials professionally developed (and available at a reasonable cost) to assist in the sales and customer service representative training, as well as training customers. Both PIA ( www.gain.net ) and NAPL ( www.napl.org ) should develop and provide one to two hour (as well as half- and full-day materials) PowerPoint presentations with hands-on workbooks to train all parties (sales, CSRs and customers/prospects) in best utilization of On-Demand print. PIA does offer its Designing for Digital, which is an excellent tool, but unfortunately, most designers/creatives seldom read or watch educational CDs, but the combination book/CD is extremely worthy of inclusion in a printer's educational library (contact: www.gain.net ). In fact, it is advised that both the PIA Management Book Store and the NAPL publication offerings should provide an opportunity to purchase all possible books/audios/videos/CDs/workbook created in the last two years on the subject of digital printing and digital file preparation. These should be purchased for a printer's educational library, as training aids for sales and customer service representatives, as well as customer utilization. PODi The Print On-Demand Initiative ( www.podi.org ) has a wonderful collection of case studies, some available on the Web and by its monthly newsletter (complimentary to those who fill out subscription forms) and for purchase in both book and CD form. Each case study discusses the using company, its industry, the product application, the print on-demand process, the result, and the lessons to be learned from this print on-demand initiative. Four-color graphics are also included of the actual final digital print product. In addition, PODi offers an annual applications conference as well as regional seminars, that discuss either the subject of training sales people in selling print on-demand, training customers in what print on-demand can accomplish for them, and for best use of its PPML software. A just-released book on The Digital Print Sales System includes a disk of user friendly forms and ideas for successfully selling digital print is readily available from Book Publishing Solutions ( www.bookpubsolutions.com ) for $59.95 plus postage and handling. Finally, the majority of the digital print press manufacturers have created and provide PowerPoint training presentations to be used with sales and customer service representatives on understanding and dealing with customers for their on-demand printing, along with presentation materials for introducing digital printing capabilities, processes and results, to clients and prospects. In addition, most digital print manufacturers will provide on-site training, and can most likely be convinced to provide information on its advantages and application information to customers. It is suggested a visit to www.heidelbergusa.com, www.xerox.com, http://h30011.www3.hp.com/, and www.xeikon.com be initiated to review each of these digital print press manufacturers' training programs. Next time, we'll examine the best ways of prospecting for digital print business.