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Guiding Sales Teams to Land Must-Win Deals

Posted Wednesday, June 24, 2015 by Lisa Magnuson, Top Line Sales, LLC.

From her Top Line Tips -

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Want to engage further & truly increase sales in 2015? Contact Jules VanSant at PPI for information on member discounts on sales consulting, personalized training & access to on demand sales training with the Simple Sales Plan.

I Bet You’ve Seen these Presentation Failures Before

When I say sales presentation, I don’t just mean any sales presentation. This is the big one. Maybe you’re one of two or three finalists for a very large deal. Maybe retaining your largest customer depends on your ability to convey why your customer should remain loyal to you against a sea of competitors. When it comes to TOP Line Accounts™, your biggest and best opportunities often include a sales presentation.

Before we dive into a few uncommon tips, I bet you’ve seen these unfortunate presentation situations before; I know I have.

Top Ten Ways your Presentation Can Get Derailed

Key attendees (like the executive you’ve been working so hard to cultivate) arrive late or have to leave early or don’t come at all

Your agenda is hijacked

There are snipers in the audience

Your allocated time is cut in half

The audience is not engaged (not necessarily asleep but not entranced either)

You fall prey to any number of technical difficulties

The presentation ends with everyone just wandering off or signing off

There are no questions whatsoever

You missed the mark on your message

You fail to gain agreement for next steps

By focusing on both the strategic impact areas and the tactical essentials for each stage of the presentation process, you can avoid these show (and sale) stoppers.

Prior to Presentation

Prior to the presentation, there are a couple of strategic ’must do’ activities to get the process started on the right track. The first is to determine your win themes™ or those 3-4 key messages you want to convey as your overall objectives. These important ’bullet points’ can be found at the intersection of your audience’s priorities and your strengths. Once developed, these give you your messaging framework, which translates into a more focused agenda and ultimately an impactful (and influential) presentation.

On the tactical side, a formal dry run, at least 2-3 days in advance of the presentation, will give the team time for critical review or refinement of the finished product. Have an objective person like a sales manager or sales coach attend to offer honest feedback, especially on win theme™ impact. (Trick: don’t tell this person what your win themes™ are, but ask them to tell you the top 3-4 things they remember most from the presentation. This will give the team an excellent gauge on win theme™ effectiveness.)

Day of Presentation

On the strategic side, there are a couple of tips to really enhance your presentation, starting with the introductions.

Of course, it’s polite to have the audience introduce themselves first, but when it comes to your teams turn, have them frame their introductions around an impact to the customer. In other words, instead of simply stating your name and title, add your role or impact as it relates to the customer and their needs. Maybe you’ve been involved with the account for many years, helping in the background to secure important resources. This is an extremely impactful element to include in your introduction.

The second suggestion to enhance your presentation is to have at least one example or story per slide. The audience will really connect with stories, and by challenging yourself and your team to weave relevant examples, trends, and stories throughout, you will not only capture their interest, but hold it securely for the duration of the presentation.

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Post Presentation

Lastly, there are some critically important items to consider doing once you finish your presentation that can often be forgotten in the aftermath. Follow up on action items, additional information and thank you notes is a must. In addition, circling back to your sponsor to ask them if the presentation hit the mark will yield valuable feedback and open the door for further interaction and opportunities. And certainly not least, for successful outcomes - celebrate!

About Lisa Magnuson

alt text Lisa is a sales strategist and founder of Top Line Sales, guiding high potential sales people and account teams to land larger deals and accelerate sales. Lisa is passionate about her mission to help her clients win more business. How can we help you? You tell us! We craft solutions around your requirements.

Visit for more tips and resources

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US Commercial Printing Shipments Up for Eleventh Month

Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2015 by Joe Webb,

alt textApril 2015 US commercial printing shipments were up by +$258 million, +3.6%. In inflation-adjusted terms, because consumer inflation was negative in April, shipments were up by +$272 million, up +3.8%.

The 12-month-moving-totals, a way of annualizing shipments data, are running at $84.5 billion, up +2.7% in current dollars, and up +1.6% after adjusting for inflation. These are the highest 12-month totals in current dollars since 2009.

Commercial printing shipments have had positive comparisons to the prior year in current dollars for 11 months. After inflation adjustment, positive comparisons have been for 10 of 11 months. This was the best April since 2010. It was the best January to April period since 2011.

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The encouraging news continues.

The industry has gone through a major restructuring and shifts in its product mix, and these are likely the residue of the exit of weak firms and the actions of stronger ones, more adept in the competition and integration of other media. Printers should use this time to continue to reposition their businesses as technological competitors continue to emerge, and existing ones continue to get faster, better, and less expensive.

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Colorado Supreme Court Rules on Medical Marijuana

Posted Monday, June 15, 2015 by Jim Kyger, SPHR, CCP, CBP Asst. VP of HR Printing Industries of America.

So how do you plan to handle the legalization of marijuana in your state as it applies to hiring / testing / retaining employees?? MEMBERS: Contact if you would like to connect for 15 min consultation with Barran Liebman LLC to discuss your options AT NO Cost!

alt textThe Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that an employer maintains the right to have a policy restricting the use of medical marijuana by employees (Coats v. Dish Network). The Court held that the Colorado law that defines “lawful” activities means activities that are lawful under both state and federal laws. State Supreme Courts in California, Montana and Washington have come to similar conclusions.

Colorado’s Lawful Activities Statute states that “lawful activities” are protected if off-duty and not on employer premises (bona fide restrictions apply, such as safety sensitive). Under federal law, marijuana use is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, however the Justice Department decided in 2009 not to prosecute medical marijuana users who are complying under state law.

Arizona, Delaware, and Minnesota have statutes (with exceptions that relate to federal law compliance) that expressly prohibit employers from firing an employee for a positive marijuana drug test if that employee holds a valid marijuana prescription, however these laws have not be tested in the courts by employers. These three state’s statutes have very similar text with regards to employer prohibitions, but Colorado’s text if very different.Today, 24 states passed laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. Four states (CO, WA, AK, OR) and Washington, D.C. have passed laws permitting “recreational” use. Oregon’s recreational use law, which takes effect in July, allows employer to maintain a drug-free policy and drug test employees and applicants.

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2015 Wage & Benefit Survey - Key to Keeping Great Employees

Posted Wednesday, June 10, 2015 by Jules VanSant.

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The “Wall Street Journal” recently published an article on trends in national wages and the reasons why wages were not growing as fast as economists expected. Based on unemployment rates, the 2.6% increase for the first quarter 2015 was considered low. This is interesting information, but how does it help a manager/supervisor know what a “fair” wage might be for a six-color press operator? In Seattle? Anchorage? Boston?

The Wage & Benefit Survey produced by PPI may not provide macro economic predictions, but it provides information based on industry peers sharing information. The publication furnishes key figures about wages, policies, and benefits for our industry. Based on thousands of data points from hundreds of companies across the United States, as well as providing information by regions of the country and size of company, this information is much more valuable than economic reports from the Department of Labor. In case you are not familiar with this survey, or have not participated in the past several years, here’s an example of the data published in 2014 for a six-color 40” press operator (one of over 100 job classifications in the survey):

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Along with press operators, the survey covers nearly every position in a company from executives to delivery personnel. With a transforming workforce, having this type of data is invaluable in decision making. For more information about this significant source of information and how to participate and receive a copy of the survey results, contact {Name}.

① This represents the number of companies participating in that region, while

② represents the number of wages being reported.

③ The mathematical average of the datapoints.

④ The lowest reported wage reported within the classification.

⑤ This number represents the “ceiling” for the wages which represent the lowest 25% of the wages reported.

⑥ The value here is the mid-point. ½ of the reported wages are lower and ½ are higher.

⑦ 75% of the reported wages are lower than this number

⑧ 90% of the reported wages are lower, or differently stated, only 10% of the reported wages are higher than this value.

⑨ The highest wage reported in this classification. Sometimes this can be an outlier, but if the mid-point and average are very close, the less the possibility that the highest reported wage is an outlier.

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True Goals of Best-in-Class Leaders

Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2015 by Stuart Margolis, CPA, MT Margolis Partners LLC.

alt textAs financial consultants we love to analyze financial results. Financials tell a story about what’s happened at the company over the period of time being analyzed. It’s all good information. Many companies will take their historical data and predict future performance based on that data, hoping or expecting the same results as last time. But what if you don’t want the same results? What if you want better results?

Let’s say you want to increase profit by 25%. Can you set the goal there? Absolutely! Will it work? There is “a chance” it will work. If you’d like to sweeten the odds, read further.

As we consult with firms across the country, here’s the secret to our success in helping them to become profit leaders (or remain profit leaders).

After analyzing the historic and competitive financials, we take a good hard look at the predictors for future performance and develop a strong plan of action to improve profitability, reduce business risk, increase business value, and/or create more options for owners when they eventually want to leave the business. Success happens when a solid Profit Plan is built for the company and everyone becomes discipline to stay within that model as market conditions, plan execution and leadership impose change upon the organization.

Outstanding performance in one area of the company whether a cost reduction or “big win” sale, can create a short-term burst of success, but to achieve long-standing success proper execution of a Profit Plan can offer the financial security you seek. Elements of the plan should include Financial Balance, Growth, Excellent Execution, and Cohesive Leadership.

Financial Balance

I often get asked, ”What is the profile of a company wanting a Profit Plan”? At first you might guess that it’s poor performers, companies that need a big boost. Actually, that’s not the case. Our most successful Profit Plans were implemented by our most brilliant clients who were best-in-class but wanted to be even better. To work with us on a Profit Plan you don’t need to be a best-in-class performer already, but you do need to have (or be willing to develop) a best-in-class mindset for financial performance. In short, profit leaders understand that operating profitably is their choice. They view management practices (issues under their control) as the driving forces of profitability. Average to below-average performers tend to credit or blame changes in the marketplace for the most significant force causing profits to go up or down. We can’t help you change your marketplace, but we can help you change factors that can be controlled.

When it comes to financial performance, the ability to consistently generate cash flow under varying market conditions becomes a primary focus of our plans. Profitability and consistent cash flow fuel the investments needed to sustain long-term growth. On the flip side, inconsistent profitability or weak cash flow significantly increases business risk and makes an organization vulnerable. With a pro-active Profit Plan in place, the course is charted, giving confidence to bright managers who know they can control factors identified in the plan.


Typically, growth is viewed positively. Don’t get me wrong. We agree that growth is good. Taking it a notch further, we believe “managed growth” is even better. Your Profit Plans should take into account staffing, equipment, consumables, waste and more. We believe in structuring to be lean and growing into your bigger size. It doesn’t mean you can’t hire new talent or buy more innovative equipment. It means, plan for it and be savvy about it.

Excellent Execution

The best-in-class performers execute Profit Plans throughout their organization. Daily performance is based on the continuous improvement measures set forth in the Profit Plan. They realize that some scaling, flexing and change will be important in certain areas. They manage it internally so that the sum of the pieces equals a greater whole. Execution is not just about the ability to produce a quality product on time or become the low cost provider of a product, but rather about managing for continuous improvement in personal performance throughout the company.

Cohesive Leadership

At the beginning of the article I mentioned that the best candidates for Profit Plans need to have (or desire) best-in-class mindsets. To integrate the plan, leaders from the top down need to be on board.

Since transition, change and succession are real life occurrences in every business, good leaders choose not to ignore it. They embrace it and plan for it. By doing so, cohesiveness is established at the company. When one person leaves, the plan, methodologies and the everyday execution of tasks stay. The plan helps to minimize risk and create organizational value. A business driven by a high functioning team has corporate value. Typically, the corporate value is higher than that of a business driven by one strong leader with individual value.

Forward thought on value

Financial analysis, benchmarking, and ratio analysis are absolutely necessary. Don’t stop there. To become (or remain) best-in-class use metrics to create your plan. Use the plan to change implementation of work performed. Once you establish a strong sense of control, you will realize how very powerful your company can be. It really is possible to run like a well-oiled machine.


About Margolis Partners

Margolis Partners have long been recognized as the financial experts for privately-held businesses with a specialty in print and packaging, assisting 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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