Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL

man talking on headsetFor the last few months I have been preparing training curriculum for organizations outside of the United States. Although some countries are more progressive, a more universal truth is that, across all countries, the skill sets needed are changing faster than most curriculum. I had the opportunity to discuss this at the PIA teachers conference last fall immediately before the Graph Expo show. In my opinion, there are five skill sets needed for companies to succeed.

1. Operations staff to streamline production. While many schools teach the fundamentals of how to operate equipment, one thing that’s missing is training staff to measure and improve productivity. These are subjects often covered in what we used to call “Quality Courses,” such as Lean and Six Sigma.

2. Operations staff to automate processes. Using software to automate production is becoming an essential strategy to drive down manufacturing costs. This includes web to print solutions, prepress PDF workflow solutions, and JDF automation driven by print MIS software. Knowing how to use this software and adapt other programs such as Enfocus Switch, is missing and is a much needed skill set.

3. Sales people who understand consultative sales. Some of our products have become commoditized, meaning they are very price sensitive. There are other products that have more value, but these products require different sales skills, referred to as a consultative sales. Any organization that masters the training of consultant sales will have companies breaking down their door to get the best qualified staff.

4. Marketing people who can find new opportunities. It was not that long ago that the main sales mantra was to find new prospects to sell your existing products and services. More recently however, industry experts are talking about offering new products such as marketing services. Selling these new value-added services requires a marketing plan that includes lead generation, strategies to nurture leads, and a way to close the deal.

5. Operations staff who can build new services. Every day we hear about the opportunities in selling large format printing, cross media marketing, mailing, variable data printing, and a host of other new services. While some things are natural extensions of our core competencies such as large-format printing, others such as marketing services may be completely alien. While marketing and selling these new services are important, equally important is staff who can research, learn, implement, and troubleshoot new technologies.

If these are the skill set gaps that will separate those who succeed from those who do not, how are you planning to develop the skill sets needed for your success?

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