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Don't Miss your 'Window of Opportunity' with the C-Suite

Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2015 by Lisa Magnuson, Top Line Sales LLC.

alt textMany sellers don’t recognize the precious few windows of opportunity to access the C-Suite. When it comes to your TOP Line Accounts™ (i.e. largest prospect or most important customers worth at least 2x your average customer or deal size), these open windows can be deal makers or breakers.

Open Window One:

There’s a window of opportunity right after contract signature but before implementation where a lot can get accomplished. Why? Executives are interested in the very beginning stages of a project to set the stage. Right after your win celebration and win retrospective, you can help the executive by giving them briefing points and reinforcing the importance of their role in support of the initiative. Accessing a key executive early in the contract is an important component of setting yourself up for future business. Seizing this window of receptivity post-contract is a smart move.

Open Window Two:

C-Suite executives want to ensure a positive ROI on any big investment. If you have important information and data on your project’s ROI impact, then they will be very receptive to meeting with you. This also allows you to ask how they would like to receive timely reports on progress. Many people miss this brief but critical opening.

Open Window Three:

Executives are also interested in new and creative ideas which could lead to a project. (I.e. deciding if your ideas will move their company agenda forward) For a complete list of ’why’ executives want to meet with you, see my BLOG at

Capitalize on these windows of opportunity and watch your win rates skyrocket. Good luck in your efforts to ring the bell more frequently with TOP Line Account™ victories!

About Lisa Magnuson and Top Line Sales alt text

When was the last time your team closed a seven-figure contract? Let Top Line Sales instill the know-how into your sales organization to identify, cultivate and close strategic account opportunities through a field-proven process that includes, the right tools, strategic training and live deal coaching. Our clients boast of closed contracts totaling over $100 million in new revenue due to our commitment to ’roll up our sleeves’ to help your team win.

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Posted Monday, November 2, 2015 by Jim Kyger, SPHR, CCP, CBP Asst. VP of HR Printing Industries of America.

If you have issues with an inspection or need assistance with other aspects of your Environmental, Health and Safety areas within your firm, PPI along with it’s Affiliated partner Printing Industries of America are here to help!

From Printing Industries of America Monthly HR Update. CLICK HERE to read the November issue. And don’t forget to sign up for the FREE HR Update 11/4 at 11am PT >> Register HERE

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OSHA’s website was updated recently with statistics of violations and inspections by industry code for the last fiscal year. Below is a listing of the top ten citations for the printing industry (NAICS 323). This can be a great checklist for your company’s safety committee to ensure that you’re in compliance. Compared to FY 2014, citations, inspections, and penalties were down for the industry. Many state OSHA plan statistics are available on this website as well.

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Print Industry Be Aware: OSHA updates its National Emphasis Program on Amputations

Posted Wednesday, October 21, 2015 by Gary Jones, Assistant Vice President, EHS Affairs Printing Industries of America.

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OSHA has updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations and it is not good news for the printing industry. Due to the continued experience of amputations occurring in the printing industry, the list of covered printing types has been expanded from just commercial printing operations the previous version of the NEP. The covered printing operations now include the following segments of the printing industry:

  • Corrugated and Solid Fiber Box Manufacturing
  • Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing
  • Other Paperboard Container Manufacturing
  • Paper Bag and Coated and Treated Paper Manufacturing
  • Commercial Printing (except Screen and Books)
  • Commercial Screen Printing
  • Books Printing
  • Plastics Bag and Pouch Manufacturing
  • Plastics Packaging Film and Sheet (including Laminated) Manufacturing

The significance of the NEP is that it provides OSHA with a legal basis to inspect any identified industry segment without warning or prior notice. Since the NEP has been released we are aware of several printing operations that have been inspected and cited for violations of machine guarding and lockout/tagout requirements. OSHA has been proposing the maximum penalty of $7,000 for each identified violation and has been itemizing all violations causing the proposed penalties to be in the mid to upper five figures.

All printing companies are urged to perform a critical review of their machine guarding and lockout/tagout programs to ensure they are current and compliant, including employee training and management oversight. If you need assistance with evaluation your programs, please contact the Printing Industries of America EHS Affairs team at or (800) 910-4283.


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Posted Monday, October 19, 2015 by Joe Rickard via

One of the most powerful selling tools is a customer reference. Customers like nothing better than networking and identifying successful solutions being offered to similar organizations. Putting a customer reference on a website, or providing references to existing prospects, is a smart thing to do. Obtaining customer references to prospect and identify new opportunities should be a part of any sales plan.

It is time well spent developing customer references

Most printing companies are facing changing market conditions. Differentiation is difficult and price pressures are intense. Gaining opportunities to separate from the competition to build trust and credibility with their customers is a key to success. We define a good customer reference as an advocate who has a set of products and/or services that has solved a specific problem or generated a significant opportunity in a specific market.

We are finding many print providers may have forgotten this proven marketing method to develop new sales opportunities. Research has shown that customer references help companies attract new customers and shorten sales cycles.

The best salesperson is a satisfied customer

Why would a prospect buy a high cost and high risk solution from a company that can’t produce a genuine customer reference? Sharing with potential prospects how a specific print-based offering has solved a problem that generated great results is a powerful selling tool. Not only will customers gain confidence in a particular solution, but salespeople will also build their own credibility and confidence with their prospects.

Customer references should be part of a company’s marketing strategy

Almost all salespeople agree that using customer references increases their chances of closing more business. The problem is that individual salespeople often guard their references. Then when there is a need for a reference everyone is scrambling. This usually does not end well.

What makes a great reference?

The value of a great reference can be substantial. For instance, a great reference would be an insurance client who is soliciting customers through direct mail. The problem is that they are getting a very low response rate. The print provider helps develop a direct mail piece that includes personalized content. The result is that the client gained a much higher response rate and subsequently gained 12% in sales revenue.

To capitalize on references, we recommend companies approach references in an organized way.

Set a guideline and target

You should look for clients that have had a business issue or opportunity which was solved by using a print solution that resulted in a great ROI. The sales team should have a specific type of client they are targeting for a reference. This should include the size of an account, type and size of offering, the market, the problems solved or opportunities created. It is best to have a specific format for them to follow.

Ask them for a reference

Most satisfied customers are happy to provide a great reference. Sometimes customers will not have the time to provide a written reference. A good practice in these situations is to draft one for the customer and then get their approval. Occasionally larger clients do not want their successes publicized outside the company due to fear of competitors getting a good idea. We find getting a good reference is part of good selling. Great salespeople get great references.

Document each reference in a consistent format

We recommend a simple but well-branded three part approach: what was the problem or opportunity faced by the customer, what was the solution provided by the print provider and what were the results generated for the customer. Having some information about the client such as industry, type of services, location, size will make the reference that much more powerful.

Market your references

How a reference is presented and displayed makes a difference. The reference should be branded, designed and part of an overall marketing strategy. It should be created to potentially be used in case studies, websites, printed collaterals, social media, PR and sales presentations.

Integrate them into the sales process

Once the customer references are obtained and completed, then it is time to ensure that they are used within the sales process at the appropriate time. Don’t wait until a customer asks for a reference. Use these to develop new markets and prospects. They attract attention and interest of clients.

For some, it requires closing the first deal and gaining a reference that can open the door to a new market segment. For others, they already have great customers that just need to be asked. Printing is a relationship business built on trust. Customer references have traditionally been an integral part of the selling process.

Using satisfied customers is essential to managing new opportunities and overcoming competition. Print providers selling large and complex programs, products and services are missing a big opportunity if they don’t use references from satisfied customers.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions ( works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published in Quick Printing Magazine and

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Oregon’s Minimum Wage Will Not Increase

Posted Monday, September 21, 2015 by Jules VanSant.

Source: State of Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), Press Release, September 16, 2015

Despite rising housing, child care and other household costs, the state minimum wage will remain the same at $9.25 per hour in 2016, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced on September 16.

Each year, Commissioner Avakian calculates the minimum wage by measuring the increase to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a federal figure published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics to track prices for a fixed “market basket” of urban goods. The figure helps track inflation across the country, but does not fully capture local cost increases, such as skyrocketing rents in the Portland or Eugene metro areas.

About 100,000 workers—six percent of the state’s workforce—currently earn the minimum wage. For full-time workers, Oregon’s wage floor translates to less than $20,000 a year.“It’s time to take action on wages,” said Labor Commissioner Avakian. “The reality is that Oregon’s wage floor is not keeping pace with the rising cost of rent, child care and other expenses. We should raise our state’s minimum wage so that people working full-time can afford to provide for their families.”

A common misconception about employees earning a minimum wage is that they are mostly teenagers. However, according to the Economic Policy Institute, roughly 80-percent of all minimum wage workers living in states with an indexed minimum wage are at least 20 years old. Women are also disproportionally affected: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62 percent of all minimum wage earners nationwide are women.

“A strong wage floor is an important foundation for family economic security,” said Avakian. “By passing a higher minimum wage, Oregon can help families struggling to make ends meet while boosting the purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Oregonians around the state.”

As Labor Commissioner, Avakian both sets the state’s minimum wage and oversees its enforcement.

In 2013, Commissioner Avakian testified before the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in support of Senator Tom Harken’s efforts to boost the federal minimum wage. In 2014, Avakian was the first statewide official to call for a minimum wage increase.

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