Amazingly people rarely consider support and training before they sign up, probably with the incorrect assumption that all companies are the same. Just by way of an example, one of our software suppliers (that's right, even we have to buy in software!) has a five day service level agreement for answering support questions (and it feels like they wait 4 days 23.5 hours before they respond). We have a good understanding of the software so most of the time this is completely fine. Do you know when it is not fine? When we actually need support.
Of course providing support and training is not free and in general the more instant it is the more expensive it is to provide. The more expensive it is for the software supplier, the more expensive it is going to be for you. So what you are actually looking for is the happy balance, good support and training, in ways that you wish to get that support and training and provided in a time frame that you can deal with.
Everyone has different learning styles, so this is more about understanding your own preferred method of learning. Some people like to be shown, some like to read and learn by themselves and some just like to press every button and see what happens (if you have never read a manual for anything you own, you are probably this type of person).
So in the demo you need to find out what the software supplier recommends, how much it costs and to make sure it matches up to the person in your company who will be using the software the most.
There is an important side note here if you are using a system that is constantly updated with new features. One to one training is not really practical for ongoing training. Companies will typically cover this by group webinars and preferably with online lessons for you to use when you need a new feature.
Most software companies divide support into front line and technical. Front line (which confusingly can deal with very technical questions) is normally going to be your point of contact for support. Again in the auditioning stage of Web to Print software providers you are on a fact finding mission. Here are a few things to consider:
Everything up to this point in the guides has been focused on the software, i.e. the platform, the pricing, the support and training. It is about finding out the facts in a structured way that lets you compare the systems you demo. Going forward from this point we are going to focus on your business and yes that probably means you are going to have to do less reading and more thinking!
It really all starts in the next section on B2B and B2C considerations, however there is a logical bit to quickly cover here. What you really need to do is critically look at your company for weaknesses (this can be knowledge or resources) in relation to your Web to Print plans and then decide if you need your software supplier to fill in those gaps. These tend to be shorter term issues due to everything being new. No one expects you to know everything that your new software can do but lack of knowledge does make it harder to sell. Maybe it is a resource (normally time) issue such as not having enough time to build your first site and templates but once that is up and running it should free up time to do this in house going forward.
With this list in hand you can ask at the demo stage what support you can get to fill in these gaps. For example do you get an account manager that can attend a sales pitch to cover knowledge gaps or can the software company build your first site and products. Of course always remember to ask how much?
We have come to the end of the software focused part of the pre demo guide with a bit of fact finding about the training and support on offer. Then we have switched it on its head and asked you to start thinking about your business, even cheeky enough to ask you to think about the weaknesses you have in relation to your Web to Print plans (no, not weaknesses like you give in a job interview that are actually strengths, real ones!)