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Every Employee in Your Business Needs to Be Technical

Technical people are a differentiator in your business—not just the typical geeks, but technical people at every position in your company. When your print business is staffed by technical people, they have a greater potential to deliver profitable growth.


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About Jennifer Matt

Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions.


By Stephanie Hill on Jan 23, 2019

I agree. This is a mindset needed for functioning in the 21st century. What is mentioned here is a small portion of the tools used by many of our customers. The 2017 O'Reilly Salary survey found that 12 is the average number of tools used by the designers who responded. We are working with digital natives for whom collaboration is the norm. They use tools to plan, communicate and execute. Print Service Providers need to understand and participate to be competitive.


By Jennifer Matt on Jan 23, 2019


Many printers spend lots of time and money making their "brand" look high tech (on their website, in their lobby's, etc.). Then their sales rep shows up with a flip phone and a day runner!

Software tools should be used to save everyone time (your customers time is the most expensive thing you spend).



By Stephanie Hill on Jan 23, 2019

Precisely, We all need to walk the walk. The challenge is to change behavior. Not easy and not all will follow. Change is hard.


By Michael Jahn on Jan 23, 2019

Great article, truer words have not been written - As Developers, we find that a good repository of a searchable Knowledgebase articles is helpful, but most of our new customer have never encountered things like Nexus ( taxe calculation related ) PCI ( Credit card processing related ) PAF ( mailing list related ) XSLT Style Sheets ( API processing of external XML ) and even CSS ( HTML wrangling ) - Smaller printers never had to set up SMTP ( email servers ) or even FTP servers. Yes, there is a lot to get your head around for sure these days if you are implementing a Print MIS system !


By Gordon Pritchard on Jan 24, 2019

It was an interesting article until ageism reared its ugly head ("If the average age of your sales team is over 55, then the chances are approximately 100% that your sales team is lesstechnical [sic] than the majority of your customers.")


By Jennifer Matt on Jan 24, 2019

There are a lot of very technical sales people over 55. Unfortunately, when you spend your entire career in the same industry we start thinking our expertise is enough. This is in fact true if your industry isn't changing. There is no industry that isn't changing so everyone (young and old) has to continue to learn. When management continues to learn; then they lead by example and people of all ages follow their lead.



By Gordon Pritchard on Jan 24, 2019

Then maybe that’s what you could’ve written in the first place - minus the reference to age repeated in your response. There was no need to refer to age in your original post, just as there was there no need to mention it in your follow up.


By Gordon Pritchard on Jan 24, 2019

I'm unable to edit my previous post to clarify my intent.

Age is not a relevant criteria for identifying the technical Luddites in a business since Luddites come in all ages and backgrounds.

So, instead of:
"If the average age of your sales team is over 55, then the chances are approximately 100% that your sales team is less technical than the majority of your customers."

You could write:
"In any organization, the chances are approximately 100% that a few members of your sales team will be less technical than the majority of your customers."

Do you understand the difference?


By Jennifer Matt on Jan 24, 2019


Makes sense. With each generation; we grow up with different skills. I went to college before the internet or cell phones. I've had a very different experience with this technology that was introduced to me well into my career vs. a millennial who was born into a family that was staring at the cell phones for a good part of their day!

Maybe the more important thing to think about is how do you make sure to keep your organization as diverse as your customer base? Customers like to buy from people they can relate to so having age diversity, racial diversity, and gender diversity gives you a chance to have your team be more relate-able to your customers.



By Gordon Pritchard on Jan 24, 2019


But that attitude could also be pandering to discrimination. Black sales people only calling on black prospects. Female sales people only calling on female prospects. It reinforces the barriers to acceptance of differences in people and learning how to accommodate the diversity of one's prospective client opportunities.

It's a service business. If the customer prefers to only work with one of their "kind" then the service provider has a decision to make.

My intent was only to show how bias and prejudice can manifest even when there was no intent. And it doesn't just apply to age. It applies to sexism, homophobia, racism, and so on. It can condition, in subtle but impactful ways, how we treat and set expectations for the performance of others. If it happens enough, the people on the receiving end may start to believe it themselves and as a result set their expectations and performance accordingly.

Words matter.


By Tina Voss on Jan 27, 2019

Dear Jennifer Matt,

Your article is spot on. I'm a 35 older millennial (Xillennial) and I'm a Senior Global Marketing Communications Manager for a print technology company. I'm a data-driven marketer and my sales team are all 50+.

I've integrated a new CRM, Marketing Automation, and OEM Channeling marketing digital ecosystem where my team distributes end-user sales leads to our OEMs through a closed looped system (Salesforce integration is awesome). In addition, in 2019, I'm building a new Digital Media Asset Platform (DAM) using Amazon's new AI platform that with index and taxonomy capabilities to be able to resource, download, print samples, creative and media assets, white pipers, videos, everything on demand and within seconds.

Yet my salesforce doesn't utilize these digital tools on a regular basis and it's honestly deflating.

My thought is, it's not about age but an "old-mindedness" way of thinking (my best boss was 65 when I was 23) and that's limiting.

Today you have to be a "constant learner" to stay relevant. I've read books on "how to communicate with baby boomers" and multiple leadership training courses on how to manage my employees who span over 4 generations.

If you're going to stay active in the workforce, then learn to adapt and stay relevant.

I love working in the print industry and creating integrated marketing communications programs that deliver measurable and positive ROI for my company.

I just secretly wish my sales team would play ball and not be afraid to flex their digital skills...


By Jennifer Matt on Jan 28, 2019


Thanks for sharing. My dad joined the Peace Corp in his 60's after raising 14 kids. I helped him get setup on one of the first Mac laptops before he left for Poland. He never stopped learning. Funny note; when I was reviewing his technology after he died, his email address password was the same as when I set it up decades before! (an aol email of course).

People are afraid to look like they don't know what they are doing - none of us can possibly know everything now. Technology that we learned last year has already changed. We are all beginners. It isn't an intelligence thing - its a mindset thing and mindsets can change.

I saw the former CTO of the US Government under Obama talk about how they had trained 3,000+ coal miners how to code! Think we're dealing with change - think about 3,000 guys going from digging coal out of the ground to coding websites?



By Chris Lynn on Jan 28, 2019

@Tina Voss - having done many CRM and DAM implementations over the past 20 years, I can tell you that your situation is quite common, and not necessarily due to "old-mindedness". Users have to be able to see what's in it for them (as opposed to generating better reports for management)- making them more productive, simplifying/automating lead nurturing, calculating their commission, finding assets, etc. They also need a LOT of training and hand-holding in the early stages, especially if the user interface has not been customized to their needs.

Gartner has data that shows most major IT initiatives fail because of lack of user-acceptance. So you're not alone. But don't blame your users, any more than you'd blame your customers for not buying your products - look upon your job as figuring out to make these new tools more attractive to the team.



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