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AND IT WAS ALL PREVENTABLE

Posted Thursday, October 23, 2014 by Andrea Schlack.

Lately I have been very sad so I hope you will allow me a little cathartic indulgence while I explain why I am sad, mad, & disappointed and how my feelings are collateral damage from a set of circumstances that could have all been preventable!

In the early summer of 2013, on that first perfect summer day that inspires everyone to dream of playing hooky, I decided I deserved a vacation day so I left the office instructing my staff to not bother me unless it was a dire emergency. I was headed to my sister’s house for an afternoon of puppy play, poolside, and for a relaxing lunch in the warm summer air when my cell phone intruded upon my anticipated tranquility. My assistant, very apologetically, called to inform me that a FBI agent had just called asking for me and that he had also faxed over an information subpoena for a grand jury investigation. I thought my staff was pranking me because I knew that service by fax is not an acceptable form of service so I called the Agent’s number fully anticipating it was going to be some obscene joke line…It wasn’t ..It was the REAL DEAL! The Government was investigating a very serious crime.

To my complete shock and surprise the Agent informed me that a Grand Jury had been convened to investigate a couple of sales persons who allegedly used strong arm tactic to collect money from some non-paying customers. These customers had been placed for collection with PICB, hence why I was contacted; The FBI wanted my records. I really thought the documents exposed credit cheats and it was about time there were some comeuppance on deadbeats who profited and thrived upon the sweat equity of hard working Printers!

PRINTING INDUSTRY CREDIT BUREAU, I, NOR THE PRINTER WERE THE FOCUS OF THIS PROBE.

Under a federal subpoena PICB was ordered to provide the government with our records that related to their case therefore we had no choice but to cooperate. I provided the documents requested even though I was in disbelief; No one would be so arrogantly stupid to hire thugs to collect commissions. I really believed my records were going to help prove innocence so I spent several hours with this Agent reviewing several cases. I explained our collection procedures and showed him the various steps PICB takes to try and recover money due. I further detailed how we use the internet to skip trace and locate debtors and/or assets and explained the importance of doing so not only impacts recovery but also identifies when a case is suit worthy should the debtor be uncooperative, and how these same tools were used to form our sister company, Check It Company that provides Credit Risk Assessment reports on prospective credit customers.

In one specific case the FBI had focused upon, a credit scammer who we deemed ’a ghost operation’, was ultimately closed as not collectable. I explained how we determined the sham business had no physical address (the Printer only knew a PO Box). The customer provided phone number was an unregistered cell that always went to voice mail and no calls were ever returned. I showed the Agent how the public records further exposed this con’s duplicity, how he had created six corporate entities in as many years, and all having been dissolved by the state and each having used mail drops as their address for service. I explained that ultimately this file was closed by the client, whom I believed choose wisely to not waste further money chasing ghosts, despite the substantial debt due.

Several other cases were reviewed and each had similar flaws. These various credit cheats owed large sums of money and should NOT have been granted credit. They all were questionable operations with little or no assets, they had similar history to the ghost, there were prior failed businesses, prior law suits, and other questionable issues: Despite all the records the credit cons got credit lines that they never intended to pay!

The salespersons were convicted on all counts and now they are facing serious jail time.

I am sad because while I did not know them well, I knew of them and never suspected they could do what they had been charged with, yet in reflection I really believe their crime was born from the passion of the moment, the frustration of working hard for nothing. I am not making an excuse for what they did because IT WAS WRONG but I hope we can all spend a moment trying to understand an act of desperation so we may all prevent similar circumstances.

A moment’s credit wisdom prevents losses.

Questions?
Call us any time at (847) 265-0400For Collections, visit PICB: www.picb-us.comFor Risk Assessment, visit Check It Co: www.checkitco.com

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Joe Rickard Discusses Common Objections When Selling PRINT

Posted Monday, October 20, 2014 by Joe Rickard via http://www.intellectives.com.

Joe Rickard Discusses Common Objections

Join PPI On Demand Sales Training to Engage C-Level Executives. Weekly replay offering ideas, tools and more information on our amazing partner program with Dancing Elephants & Top Line Sales HERE


alt textThere are always customer concerns that must be answered during the printing sale. If they are not handled correctly, the sale is lost. Common concerns of the customer may be questions, misunderstandings and actual objections to doing business with a specific print provider. Each year we ask salespeople what are the toughest objections they face in closing business. It is amazing how similar they are year in and year out.

Price Tops Our List

Based on our surveys, it is not surprising that price concerns continue to hit our number one customer objection list. However, a change in the last few years is objections about print’s role and effectiveness in marketing campaigns.

Silent Objections Are Deadly

We are interested in customer objections because it is often the difference in getting business or not. Most salespeople face the same three or four objections in virtually all their accounts. A customer’s feeling or impressions that are not openly specified can be deadly for a salesperson. Not being perceptive enough to sense this type of objection can lead to a stalled or lost deal.

In every case, the salesperson must listen carefully to their customer, skillfully clarify their objection and handle it with ease and confidence. An expert salesperson will probe the customer to uncover their concerns that they do not directly state. To handle most concerns, salespeople must be up to date in all areas of communications and industry trends, and provide the customer with the confidence that their company is fully capable.

Printing salespeople can expect hearing directly or silently some or all of these objections in their accounts on every call:

1. Your Price Is Too HighThe dreaded price question can come up at any time of the sale. The first step is to understand why a customer feels your prices are too high. In many cases the customer may not be comparing similar products or have a misconception about your pricing program. Whatever the reason, it is always better to take a step back, understand and then calmly and professionally answer their price objection.

2. I Do Not Think You Can Do ItCustomers are often concerned with their print provider’s capability to manage complex, large and cross media and multichannel offerings. Printers, agencies and marketing services companies are struggling to keep up and gain proficiency in new areas.It is a great practice to come prepared with case studies, testimonials, samples and best practices to help counter capability concerns.

3. I Tried It and We Did Not Get Any More BusinessIt is frustrating when a customer fails to see the value of a solution. Print providers offering personalized print, cross media and new services often face customer concerns about their return on investment. Being ready with proof in the form of financial data, case studies, testimonials and best practices are vital to handling concerns about the worth of venturing into a new type of campaign or program.

4. I Am Happy With My Current Printer(s)Customer complacency is a very common objection. Customers often push off salespeople by saying they are happy with what they have because they do not want to be bothered with switching vendors. This objection is usually presented at the beginning of the sales process. Being armed with proof sources, customer references and examples can open up the customer to hearing a new approach.

5. We Don’t Have the Time or PeopleWith everyone being shorthanded and workers being stretched to the limit, customers are often reluctant to listen to new ideas and programs. Many companies in fact do not have the expertise or bandwidth to manage large print programs. Great salespeople can meet these objections by being prepared to offer a clear roadmap to solutions that are easy to implement or can be done in stages. In some cases, print providers may offer to completely manage the program for the customer.

6. Print Is Becoming a Relic and Is Being Replaced By Digital MediaConcerns about print cost and print effectiveness are often reinforced by competing digital media providers. Printing salespeople can be assured there is a large complement of competitors pitching alternatives to print. The good news for printing salespeople is that there are numerous proof sources from industry associations that demonstrate the awesome future and ROI of print standalone and multichannel programs.

Savvy customers, tougher competitors and a constant array of new printing products and services have made it imperative for great printing salespeople to be prepared for any objection. If a salesperson can persuasively handle these six customer concerns, it is likely they will have a response that can be used to manage similar concerns.

alt textA great practice for any print provider is for owners, managers and salespeople to meet regularly and to prepare by developing effective responses to any concerns that may be brought up by customers.

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. This article was published by MyPrintResource October 2014

Tagged: Sales Objections, Print Sales, Printing Sales Objections, Selling graphic communications, Overcoming Objections, Joe Rickard Common Concerns

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Graph Expo 2014 ... If I could walk 500 miles

Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2014 by Jules VanSant.

alt textI just spent the past 4 days in Chicago putting miles on (just check my FitBit) at the annual Print Industry trade show #GraphExpo14. My visit was full of adventures in discovering new technologies, meeting new people, checking in with trends and pastimes, as well as seeing what was new in the Windy City. 80% of each 24 hour day was spent catching up with many, many, many people! And yes, 5-6 hours of sleep is the norm :).

Who did I see? First, many of the great people who own/work at our with member firms as well as others in the industry who didn’t know what PPI has to offer but took the time to share and learn more. These connections were by appointment, by circumstance or by luck either on the show floor, on the street or at vendor events. We were thrilled to host a “Constructive Cocktails - Chicago-Style” with EFI at the Michael Jordan Steak House, with a stellar attendance for a first time event!

Many of my PIA affiliate peers were in attendance - always a great opportunity to share ideas on how to continue to be relevant to the ever evolving business we serve. I also rubbed elbows with national & international Benny award winners at the Premier Print Awards Gala, honoring the best in the world. From our 2013 PrintROCKS winners emerged our own McCallum Print Group as a recipient! We are looking for yet more big winners from our PrintROCKS 2014 entries to be submitted next Spring into the 2015 Bennys.

Vendors were out in force this year - although some just in attendance and no booth or smaller and no equipment. Digital presses, large format, finishing and mailing dominated the real estate. Offset is obviously an ongoing interest and shops are busy, yet with one new press seeming to replace what 2 or 3 might have once done, sales are slowing and competition is tough. The usual suspects have pulled back on the big dollars it takes to bring equipment to the show and instead create a space to host customers and chat about future technology. Ancillary products and services to offset were also noticeably light in booth space.

alt textI also connected with many industry thought leaders who you might see in industry rags, blogs, social media and involved with PPI at live events, online trainings or peer groups. This included hanging out with the women of the #Printerverse , #Printchat and #GirlsWhoPrint (click the hashtag to learn more) . Oh - I also had the privilege of speaking on a panel about how to effectively Market your firm (printing, market services, soup to nuts…) which streamed live on Twitter for all the print world to see ;) A whirlwind week for sure!

Bottom line - the energy for those who were exhibiting and attending was good, sales were happening and the future for print communications seemed bright… especially where inkjet, software, mailing and large format are concerned. But attendance was visually down ( I don’t have the numbers) and the show floor was significantly smaller than ever before. The registration area was inside the single hall, the back wall wasn’t as far to walk to and empty spaces went unsold – or maybe exhibitors didn’t make their flight because someone didn’t want to be transferred to Hawaii?!

What’s the future? Do you plan to attend Graph Expo in 2015, or maybe it’s a more niched show like SGIA, EFI Connect or Conference training like you can get at the Color Management Conference? This is a conversation I did have with many people, and like with our evolving commercial print space, we all want something to remain, but obviously something has to change. What would you suggest? In the end, it can’t be about legacy – it’s all about serving YOU.

Did Graph Expo Deliver ROI? Read another thought from Barb Pellow with Infotrends as posted 10/2/14 on WhatTheyThink.com

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Do you want to Contribute More to your 401k Plan?

Posted Thursday, September 11, 2014 by Joe Trybula, CFP®, AIF® with Diversified Financial / Printer's 401K.

alt textWhat you need to know from PPI Partner Diversified Financial who manage the Printer’s 401k plan. Save money, hassle and administration through this member’s only preferred vendor.

The Printers 401k® “Safe Harbor” plan makes it easy for business owners to maximize contributions to their own accounts while reducing some of the limitations associated with adhering to IRS non-discrimination testing.

The Printers 401k® Safe Harbor Plan allows you to:

• Contribute the maximum annual deferral amount $23,000 ($17,500 as an elective deferral plus $5,500 as a catch up contribution for those over the age of 50 for 2014), to your own 401(k) account.

• Receive additional company matching contributions (since you are an “employee” too!)

• Avoid the hassles of IRS non-discrimination testing

• Get tax deductions for your matching contributions

As you might expect, advance preparation and planning is always necessary in order to establish a new plan or redesign an existing one. Therefore, now is the time to consider whether a safe harbor feature is right for your company in order to ensure that it can be fully operational in advance of the October 1st deadline for new plans and December 1st for redesigned plans.

For more information on how your company could take advantage of the Safe Harbor, please contact Joe Trybula 800-307-0376 or joe@diversifiedfa.com

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Preparing the Next Gen of Graphic Arts Re-Educating the Industry by Harvey Robert Levenson, Ph. D., Cal Poly

Posted Friday, June 27, 2014 by Jules VanSant.

PPI has a strong partnership with CalPoly through an educational endowment created by Brian Dammeier. This endowment allows us to bring education to our members and the region while providing the faculty and students at the university a liaison to greater information and opportunities within the companies residing in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska & Hawaii. Printlandia the Series is one of those programs.

harvey-levenson Preparing the NextGen of Graphic Arts Re-educating the Industry
By Harvey Robert Levenson, Ph. D., Cal Poly

Harvey Robert Levenson, Ph. D., is Professor Emeritus and Director of the Graphic Communication Institute at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Reprinted with approval from the author, published originally in Output Links in June 2014

My intention was not to write an article about Cal Poly. However, I cannot help but present a case study of success in preparing the future human resources of the graphic arts and for re- educating those already actively part of the printing, publishing and related graphic communication profession.With a focus on hands-on practical education and training, Cal Poly has deployed a methodology that has bred an outpouring of accolades from the graphic arts industry that resulted in a substantially industry-funded institute for the purpose of developing and delivering education and training services to the profession.

grci_door Founded in 1946. Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication department today maintains an enrollment of 300 unusually bright and focused students drawn from the top 10 percent to 15 percent of their high school and community college graduating classes. Approximately two- thirds of the qualified applicants to Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication program are turned away and many of those who are accepted have attained high school grade point averages of over 4.0 (honor students) and some have achieved combined SAT scores of over 1400 (1600 is maximum).

In operation for over 55 years, the department has over 3,000 alumni, many of whom have reached high levels of responsibility and authority in the graphic arts profession. Most have been educated in the Graphic Communication department’s 33,000 feet of laboratories that have been kept modern through yearly outpourings of equipment and financial gifts from industry.

As one of the largest and known programs of its kind in the nation, the department boasts 100 percent placement for students wanting to enter the industry upon graduation. Indeed, most receive multiple offers by the largest and most prestigious companies in the industry that recruit on the Cal Poly Campus. Part of this success comes from an internationally known faculty of professors, scholars, researchers, authors, and consultants. However, most of the success comes from Cal Poly’s long-standing philosophy of “learn-by-doing.”

EducationImportant When I first arrived on the scene at Cal Poly in 1983, I was skeptical about this philosophy and thought that it was just a cute and catchy cliché that the university used to attract students with technical interests who were not particularly academically oriented. I learned quickly that this was a far cry from the truth. In fact, Cal Poly attracts, and has for years, some of the most academically oriented, critical thinking, and creative student bodies that I have ever encountered. In fact, in 2001, it was a Cal Poly Graphic Communication student who won the coveted Outstanding Student of the Year award for Academic Excellence. This is the highest student award give out each year by the university.

At Cal Poly, classroom lectures represent the under girding of the students’ education. However, it is the laboratory that is their home and where the real learning takes place. It is in the laboratory where experimentation, testing, and trial and error takes place, and it is where the students are able to apply their creative thinking in coming up with new ways to solve old problems. What is unique about these laboratories is that they resemble industry departments equipped with some of the most modern and sophisticated equipment available. This approach has been so successful on the undergraduate level that we now employ the same “learn-by-doing” philosophy in the growing number of training programs that we are called upon to conduct for industry. The new Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly will epitomize this philosophy and is being further developed into a premier resource for industry to participate in research, testing, and product evaluations, as well as training, seminars, workshops, and conferences.

Philosophical Premises Underlying Successful Education and Training In the Graphic Arts
Central to Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication department philosophy are a number of premises that apply equally to education and training in the graphic arts industry of the twenty-first century. They are:

—Education does not take place in a block of time. Whatever it takes at GrC-Heidelberg-sheet-fed-presswebthe university; four, five, six years or even more could represent the boundaries within which a block of education takes place. The time involved depends heavily on the individual being educated, the education or skills being developed, and the complexity of the subject matter under investigation. The four-year metaphor for a Bachelor’s degree, for example, has fallen and continuing education of individuals already in industry is just that, “continuous.” If a career is to remain viable, vital, and productive, ongoing training and re-training has to be defined and expected for nearly every position in the graphic arts on the management and production levels.

—The university is the last bastion of idealism. It is the laboratory and its ability to create situations simulating industry that provides students with a window on their professional future. That future includes the expectation that they will propose and simulate ways to improve the industry by drawing on their university experiences. It is through tests, and trial and error, that students develop a practical understanding of what works and what does not work in achieving desired outcomes. A university providing the opportunity for students to experience ideal conditions, or conditions that are as close to ideal as possible, graduates people who bring some of that idealism to industry when they graduate and, hence,improve industry. They bring new ways to solve old problems and with each generation entering field, industry benefits from continuing improvement. The Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly and the laboratories included are designed to provide those already in industry with opportunities to experience some of the same idealism in a practical setting that is part of our regular academic program.

—Education is more than a bachelor’s degree that prepares one for an occupation. Reading, writing, speaking, and overall communication skills are as important as technical skills in the graphic arts industry of the twenty-first century. Education and training in the graphic arts must address these issues on all levels. “Human” skills are increasingly what drive companies to success. More specifically, marketing, sales, customer service, and related training are as important, or even more important, than training to operate a piece of equipment. Equipment increasingly requires less human intervention and is run by microprocessors and other electronic devices. Hence, the training needs in industry are moving more to preparing people to develop those business skills needed to generate business and to keep equipment running.

—Education is a service that must address the needs of undergraduates and industry professionals. At Cal Poly we have structured our Graphic Communication program to address the needs of our regular students and also industry professionals who rely on us for continuing education and training. Our labs are equipped with the type of technology used by industry, thus providing opportunities to simulate real business and production conditions. From prepress to press to post press, the same equipment is used by our regular students and by industry professionals alike.

—A viable educational program, such as a successful business, must have a well thought-out and flexible strategic plan. At Cal Poly our Graphic Communication department has a strategic plan addressing forecasts for curriculum reform, laboratory development, faculty and staff development, and related topics. We attempt to project six years ahead and such thinking is the basis for educating our students and training industry professionals on what they will need to know in the future. The six years comes from the opportunity to reform curriculum every two years and then assuming that at least some students well graduate in four years, though many take longer. What do we really prepare students with and what do we really train industry professionals for? From the philosophical premises previously noted come two categories of training needed to develop skill sets for employees of the graphic arts in the 21st century. They are mental or cognitive skills and physical skills.

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