Web to Print Success - Part 2: The Team

March 28th, 2013 - Posted by Jamie Thomson, Managing Director

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Team Success

Web to Print Success: Part 2 – The Team

In the first part of this series I briefly covered the topic of time in the relationship with being successful in your Web to Print strategy.

In this blog I am going back to our top 10 customers to look at how their Web to Print teams are set up and how they evolved.

Web to Print Team or Print Company with Web to Print Services?

A common misconception is that in order to be successful with Web to Print you must have a team dedicated to it. However Web to Print software is a tool and whilst you will need individuals who have some specialist knowledge in the software, the really successful companies are those in which knowledge of the system is posessed by everyone in the company.

Think of it like one of your presses, the press in itself is a tool. There will be an inner circle of people working with the press that have an in depth knowledge of what that tool can do and how to make it do it. Further away from the press there will be employees that have varying degrees of knowledge about it but, especially in SMEs, nearly everyone will know something about it. For example the press operator will probably have more knowledge about the press than the sales person who is getting work for it, who in turn will have more knowledge than the accounts department. Nevertheless there is a very good chance that the accounts department know what the press is.

Our top 10 customers they have been through the process of getting everyone involved with the project of moving some of their print business online. Everyone in their team has enough knowledge to spot opportunities that are suitable for Web to Print.

They do also have specialists though, and one vital but often missing part of the organisation that I will talk about at the end of this section.

The Software Specialist: - In our biggest customers this is at least a full time role for one person; in fact it is often a team of people. Typically the specialists build web stores, products, generally manage the software and in a lot of cases act as front line technical support for the users and internally for other members of the company, such as the sales team. They also have a really great understanding of what the system can do even if those features are not currently being used by the company.

The Solution Selling Specialist: - You will note that I have not put the Web to Print sales specialist. There is good reason for this, as we have stated above, the software is just a tool and our biggest customers know how to use this tool to solve problems of their customers. Solution Selling Specialist may not have appeared in the list, it is not specifically a Web to Print success requirement so much as a general company success requirement. The only reason that it is mentioned here is that it is often an alien concept for traditional print sales people and more often than not it is a new skill that the sales team in a print company needs to learn.

The Senior Online Business Champion: - This is the often missing part of the jigsaw that I referred to earlier. The decision to have an online strategy for the company (and as Kevin points out in his blog, no online strategy is no business strategy at all) has to come from the top of an organisation; it has to spread through a company from the top. If it is treated by a side issue by the CEO or Sales Director, then those feelings will spread through the whole company. This is the single most common reason that print companies fail to be successful online. As with many things, when staff know that something is important to their seniors, that there are targets and that those targets are being monitored then they remained focused on hitting those targets.

Let’s assume that the Senior Online Business Champion is in place, that means just two people are needed to get underway, the Software Specialist and the Solution Selling Specialist. This is often not as easy as it sounds though, the recent economy means that spare capacity has been trimmed, especially in terms of personnel. It is OK for RedTie to come in and say Web to Print is a very efficient of getting orders (it is) and that it will free up staff capacity as more business goes online (it will) but if you have less than zero time then how can you get off the ground, how can you even start to move some of your business online?

Choose a Software Solutions Partner not a Software Vendor

If you have decided that a particular software product has all the features you need to meet your online strategy then you have identified the correct tool, but if you don’t have the team and strategy in place to get the most out of it, it will just sit there gathering virtual dust.

This is where it is incredibly important to choose who you get your software from; technical support will often not be enough for your organisation. You need more of a partner, a company that produces great software, but also gives you the option to outsource some of your capacity problems, especially at the start. When you have grown your online business to such an extent that it is big enough to take on more staff, or it has proven to be more efficient and freed up some capacity then there may be an argument for just needing great software with great support (I would argue that it is almost always better to have the option to call on a partner) but this is rarely the case in the beginning.

RedTie has great software and an awesome technical support team, but we also offer full range of services from helping define strategies, sales pitches, training your team about solutions selling etc. right through to building sites and products for you. Basically we are here to be an extension of your company, who you can lean on for as much support as you need in implementing your online strategy.

If you want to put us to the test then please fill out our demo request form and you can become one of our partners in the near future.

Next time, in the final part of this series, I am going to look at the demands our top 10 customers put on us.