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SIX WAYS TO CONFRONT CUSTOMER INDIFFERENCE

Posted Friday, February 6, 2015 by Joe Rickard.

Thoughts from the PPI ED formally known as a print buyer :)

Having been a buyer for many years, I completely agree with Joe Rickard’s assessment of indifference in seeking new suppliers. Once I found a few that fit the niches I was regularly purchasing, I would politely address sales reps calling on me from other providers, but the reality… rarely was there a compelling argument or differentiator which would truly make me think twice about moving my business.

Those who were aware of this, patient, not pushy yet able to create a connection often were the ones down the road I would entertain quotes and collaborate on future projects with. How do you handle indifference?

Cheers! Jules

from Joe Rickard’s Printing Sales Training Blog

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SIX WAYS TO CONFRONT CUSTOMER INDIFFERENCE

February 2, 2015

When selling print, a customer who lacks any interest in looking at new printing providers, print products, solutions or services can be the toughest barrier that any salesperson can face. For many salespeople, customer indifference is their greatest competitor.

The reason indifference is so frustrating to print salespeople is because it is based on customer perception about print. They view print as a commodity and are not interested in looking at any new ideas.

Common responses from customers are:

“We are happy with our current print supplier.”

“We are not using direct mail anymore.”

“We are moving to digital marketing.”

“Talk to our purchasing department.”

Customer Indifference Can Be a Salesperson’s Toughest Competitor

Selling to the indifferent customer has been the basis of sales training courses for many decades.

The buying process has changed. Current research tells us that customers are 60% of the way through their buying process before they even talk to a salesperson. This is because of readily available information on the Web and within Social Media. As a result, it is even more difficult for a printing salesperson to attract attention and present their print solution.

Reasons for Customer Indifference to Print

Here are some more reasons why customers are indifferent to print:

*· Print has been a victim of the success of digital and social media. Some customers have completely “tuned out” print. They view print as a relic of the past that is being overwhelmed by digital and social media. The result is that print will become even more commoditized in the eyes of the customer and will be pushed to the purchasing department for price management.

· Customers are not responding to traditional print sales and marketing approaches. Buyers of print are getting their information from other sources outside of printing salespeople. Print providers and salespeople have been hesitant to adjust to changing buying habits of customers.

· Print is not viewed as positively as it has been in the past. There is a relentless push by opponents of print to create the perception that print is too expensive, bad for the environment and overall not effective.*

These reasons for customer indifference do not mean all is hopeless. Below are six proactive actions that printing salespeople and print providers can use to combat indifference.

Six Ways to Confront Customer Indifference

1. Bring Value to the Conversation

Forrester Research states that only 15 percent of customers see value in conversations with salespeople. Salespeople must bring insights and ideas that address customer problems. Case studies, examples and best practices that are tailored to each customer are good ways to create interest. Focusing on the business problem or opportunity should be the foundation of any sales approach.

2. Dominate a Market Segment

We have always been a fan of vertical marketing. Knowing an industry well with its specific jargon, work processes and issues brings instant credibility to indifferent customers. There are an enormous amount of examples of industry-focused innovative and creative print solutions that have delivered outstanding return on investment.

3. Be an Expert

Customers are less interested in hearing why one printing company is better than another. Research consistently confirms customers are looking for experts in communications and printing. Being an expert in print is a given; customers also expect salespeople to know how digital and social media integrates with print.

4. Reinvent Print

If indifferent customers have entrenched opinions about print, then print providers and salespeople need to position print in a new way. We are already seeing print providers reposition cross media and data-driven print in a creative way. Don’t waste time on customers who are stubborn. Look for influencers and champions who value new ideas. There are many users and creatives who will embrace the beauty and effectiveness of print if given the chance.

5.Put Yourself in the Position of the Customer

Spending time with customers and simply listening to them is a great way to move indifferent customers. We recently observed an indifferent customer become interested because of the way a print company simplified the print process. The customer’s perception was that commercial printers were much more difficult to work with than digital and social media agencies. The printer offers virtual and rapid customer service, immediate status of jobs is provided, and samples of substrates are sent overnight to creatives and end users.

6.Focus on the Vital Few

80% of our business comes from 20% of accounts. Don’t confuse sales activity with sales effectiveness. Existing customers with problems or opportunities that can directly be addressed by print solutions are the place to start. Those customers that can improve sales or profits by an innovative direct mail campaign or a cross media product launch or implementing a web to print system are places to focus.

Addressing the indifferent print customer has never been more important. The change has occurred gradually. In most cases, indifference is not due to unhappiness with their current printing company. It is because the customers have so many alternative communication choices available to them.

Great salespeople recognize indifference when they see it. The key, as always, is to know the customer and their business. Listening, building a customized strategy and creating new insights is the best way of gaining their attention and interest.


Joe Rickard is a training leader and consultant dedicated to the graphic communications Industry. He is a printing industry expert and works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales and operational effectiveness. Joe founded Intellective Solutions LLC (www.intellectives.com) to serve the printing market. Intellective Solutions Inc. provides consulting and training material and services. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published December 1, 2014 in Quick Printing Magazine and MyPrintResource.com

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What's your Password? Avoid a SONY!

Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by Jules VanSant.

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As I often do as various points during the day, I checked out my twitter feed @ppiassociation to see what was going on in the world. There are lots of great tidbits that get lost in the sea of over information we live in these days, but this one popped out 1) because it’s relevant to all of us 2) because the post had a graphic 3) because a word on there made me think TWICE about some of my log ons!!!

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Consider the stats from 2011 - 2014 thanks to the Wall Street Journal and password security service SplashData. Are you keeping your information safe? Ensuring your website, your email, your social media, your financial data isn’t being hijacked by others without your knowledge. Take a moment & consider your password practices!

alt text Do you keep a log? Where? Do you use an app? Is your phone or other device password protected? Are you using data-points that a 9th grade computer techie would be able to figure out? DON’T GET STUNG!

Here’s an article from Google delving in deeper as we consider our own vulnerabilities as individuals and businesses… don’t be sorry like Sony!

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Taxes….Phew! Depreciation Extenders for 2014

Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by Stuart W. Margolis, CPA, MT, Margolis Partners LLC.

Extension of Bonus Depreciation and Code Sec. 179 Expense: 2014 Tax Prevention Act

alt textBy Stuart W. Margolis, CPA, MT, Margolis Partners LLC

Congress has enacted the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (2014 Tax Prevention Act), which provides a one year extension of popular incentives for business investment in capital and equipment. These incentives include an extension of bonus depreciation provisions and temporary increases in the deductible amount and investment limitation under Code Sec. 179. Also added, Corporations may continue to accelerate the AMT credit by forgoing bonus depreciation on certain property placed in service in 2014 if you have AMT credits available and the election is made not to take bonus depreciation.

Bonus depreciation. The 2014 Tax Prevention Act extends the 50-percent first-year bonus depreciation allowance for one year to apply to qualifying property acquired after December 31, 2007 and placed in service before January 1, 2015 (or before January 1, 2016, for certain longer-lived and transportation property). There is no limit on the total amount of bonus depreciation that may be claimed in any given tax year, and the bonus depreciation allowance rate of 50 percent remains unchanged.

Although the placed-in-service deadline for 50-percent bonus depreciation property with a longer production period is extended one year through December 31, 2015, only pre-January 1, 2015 progress expenditures are taken into account in computing the bonus depreciation allowance.

As a reminder, the 50% depreciation is taken first, then regular MACRS or accelerated depreciation on the remaining 50%. By example, a 5 year asset worth $10,000 received $6,000 in depreciation in 2014; $5,000 in bonus depreciation and another $1,000 (20%) on the remaining $5,000 using the regular MACRS depreciation method.

Code Sec. 179 expense deduction. In addition to the bonus depreciation changes, the 2014 Tax Prevention Act retroactively extends the increased deduction and investment limits under Code Sec. 179. Generally, Code Sec. 179 permits a business that satisfies limitations on annual investment in fixed asset to elect to deduct (or “expense”) the cost of qualifying property rather than depreciate the cost over time.

For tax years beginning after 2009 and before 2015, taxpayers are permitted to expense up to $500,000 of the cost of qualifying property under Code Sec. 179, reduced by the amount by which the qualified investment in fixed assets exceeds $2,000,000. Qualifying property includes depreciable tangible personal property purchased for use in the active conduct of a trade or business. Off-the-shelf computer software placed in service in tax years beginning after 2002 and before 2015 is treated as qualifying property.

By example, a 7 year asset with a cost of $2,000,000 is the only asset purchased in 2014. You may take a 179 expense deduction of $500,000 (the maximum amount). With the remaining $1.5 million you can take bonus depreciation of $750,000. Then with the remaining $750,000 in asset cost basis, another $107,143 (1/7 or 14.286%) in regular MACRS depreciation is added. This totals $1,357,143 or 67.86% of the asset cost on a 7 year asset.

The incentives for investing in business property in 2014 were significant. It’s a shame congress did not act sooner as the ability to plan on equipment investment was lost due to the late extension of both the bonus depreciation and 179 expense deduction provisions. Once again, we enter 2015 with no bonus depreciation and greatly reduced 179 expense deduction and investment limitation. As always, planning for your capital and equipment acquisitions and retirements is essential. If you have any questions call us, Margolis Partners, 610.667.4310. We’d be glad to help walk you through it.

*About Margolis Partners

Margolis Partners has long been recognized as the financial expert for family-owned businesses with a specialty in the printing, packaging and allied graphic communications industries, assisting thousands of companies with strategic and financial management, valuation, mergers/acquisitions, accounting, audit and tax services. The firm is noted for its expertise in enabling companies to optimize profits. Proudly, it is the purveyor of the industry’s Value-Added Principles of Management, and compiles the annual Printing Industries of America Ratios, the printing industry’s premier financial benchmarking tool.*.

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Are Your Collection Practices Reality Or Illusion?

Posted Monday, January 19, 2015 by Andrea Schlack.

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From PPI Partner Printing Industry Credit Bureau’s (PICB) Monthly Digest of Sound Credit And Collections Practices

Volume 12, Jan. 2015

The fabled Man from LaMancha, Don Quixote, lost his mind believing chivalry died. In his delusional imagination he saw only giants and demons who stole bounty from the people he loved and only wished to protect, while his trusted friend knew reality—Don Quixote was chasing windmills.

alt textSound familiar? How many times have you done ’good’ by a customer who later laid blame on your company for supposed ills suffered only so he could refuse payment for the services rendered? Do you go insane because of these imaginary obstacles to your profits or do you behave like Panzo and attack the windmill for what it is?

When you need to topple windmills, PICB is your Pancho Sanchez who will help you avoid imaginary giants:

Maintain a good paper trail of all events because that which is in writing will always supersede that which is supposedly remembered.

When a customer makes a promise acknowledge it in writing via email or fax and make sure to specify who you spoke with, what was discussed and agreed upon, and state clearly when you expect to receive the promised payment.

Never make a demand using negative terms such as ’when will you pay’? or Why have you not paid?” Both of these leave you unresolved because the customer could conceivably answer this with ’never’ or ’because’.

Make your demand positive by staying focused upon the issue at hand and asking questions that limit the answer to a positive result, such as ’How many days do you need to get this paid?” By limiting the answer to a specific time frame you maintain control over your unpaid receivable.

Follow up is key. If an expected payment is not received do not wait to follow up with your customer and again ask the question in a positive fashion, such as “I have not received your payment yet, when was it mailed?’

Never make a statement that you will not follow thru upon. If you repeatedly threaten to hire your outside agency, eventually the customer will just perceive your call as ’noise’ and they will ignore your requests or demands…make your words count!

Be prepared to take necessary steps to protect your profits. Non-paying customers cost money and resources and unlike fine wine they do not improve with age…the longer you wait to take corrective steps the more likely you will suffer a bad-debt write off.

Questions?
Call us any time at (847) 265-0400

alt textFor Collections, visit PICB: www.picb-us.com

For Risk Assessment, visit Check It Co: www.checkitco.com

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Using Data: The Process of Pie

Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2015 by Traci Kinden, Alder Technology.

From the Alder Technology BLOG

alt textOne of the best parts of the holidays is the food, especially the pie. Specifically the homemade variety created by someone with a tried, true, and consistent process… Grandma’s finest beats the store-bought variety every time. Believe it or not, color management is much like pie construction. Blend the right components to roll out a great foundation (the delicate, flaky crust), adjust files to print properly (create a flavor-packed filling with just the right thickness), and print multiple jobs using the same process (pecan, apple, chocolate cream, etc.).

We’ve taken some time to research in-house color management processes at a variety of digital printing facilities over the past few months. Our findings show the same core principle is true in both printing and pie making: process is everything. Prints done without a good color management process are akin to the “poser-pie” that looked decent in the pan but turned out to be soupy and tough-crusted when served. While both the print and the poser-pie pass a visual evaluation, it took too much effort to complete the job, and no one wants to run it again (or go back for seconds).

alt textIn printing, an initial calibration is done with specific printer, ink, and media combinations to achieve balanced color and maximize gamut. This is the foundation for any great print. When a customer submits a job, the pre-press department prepares the file to print accurately using that printer, ink, and media combination. Before producing the job, scanning a quick test print ensures the output device is within spec. This eliminates surprises during production and greatly reduces the need to re-run jobs. Without these three procedures in place, production becomes an inefficient guessing game with unpredictable results.

Process control of PieLikewise, the perfect pie doesn’t come together without a great recipe, the right ingredients in accurate amounts, and a specific baking time and temperature. Without controlling these three things, a pie turns out to be a poorly assembled mass of calories that looks better than it tastes.

Adopting a data-driven color management solution is not a difficult process, because color is a science. It can be monitored and accurately controlled with data. This leads to efficient, high quality printing. Cooking shows aren’t filmed before the crew knows the workflow and prepares everything required to make a quality end product. When it comes to printing, having the right process in place and verifying printer performance before running jobs will pack your prints with efficient, delicious accuracy. And every customer wants that.

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