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Old-school sustainability

By Steve Katz, Editor | March 11, 2014

The TLMI 2014 Converter Meeting focuses on business fundamentals – raising revenue, reducing costs and having a plan.

Sustainability has become one of the label and packaging industry’s key themes, and it usually refers to green business practices and environmental stewardship. However, at the TLMI 2014 Converter Meeting, taking place March 9-12 at the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, CA, the term sustainability is being used in the context of business fundamentals. The theme of the meeting is “Old School Sustainability: Raise Revenues, Reduce Costs, Have a Plan,” and the focus is on ways label business owners can maintain long term sustainability within their organizations.

Terri Sjodin
The meeting opened with a presentation from Terri Sjodin, principal and founder of Sjodin Communications, and she focused on crafting effective and persuasive sales presentations, including the “do’s and don’ts” that go with them. “In a typical call, you have 37 seconds to make an impact,” she said. “And the majority of the time the person you are selling to is trying to determine whether they like you or not. You have seven seconds to establish credibility,” she said, adding that establishing credibility starts with how you're dressed. “You dress up to show honor and respect for your client’s time.”

Sjodin discussed three characteristics shared by top producers: the belief that you can grow; listening skills for adapting to the marketplace; and persuasive presentation skills. “The average person will only recall 50% of a presentation,” she said. “And the best time to get someone to make a decision is immediately after the presentation. People forget as time goes on.”

Visual aids, Sjodin said, can help people retain information, but cautioned salespeople about using Powerpoint. “Text on a screen is not a visual aid,” she said, adding that it is important to cater presentations to the various demographics. “Do we create presentations that appeal to all of the generations?” she asked. “You need crossover illustrations and anecdotes.”

Sjodin stressed that sales presentations often lean too heavily on being informative, as opposed to persuasive. “There is no risk in information, and a persuasive presentation is supposed to inspire action,” she said. Sjodin shared with the audience her “Nine Biggest Sales Presentation Mistakes.” They are:

“Winging” it
Being too informative versus persuasive
Misusing allotted time
Providing inadequate support
Failing to close the sale
Boring, boring, boring
Relying too much on visual aids
Distracting gestures and body language
Wearing inappropriate dress

A possible tenth mistake is “failing to earn the right to be heard." Sjodin suggested that being “scrappy” is an effective way to get in front of a potential customer. She added, “Along with your case, it’s equally important to appeal to someone’s personal wants and needs. Your likeability shifts because you have made an effort. Be scrappy, be creative, and go above and beyond the ordinary. Challenge yourself to reimagine the way you build and deliver your presenations.”

Workplace culture
Closing out day one’s educational program was Cameron Herold, an entrepreneurial CEO coach and mentor, who spoke on the theme of “Building a World Class Culture.”

Cameron Herold
“Culture is a choice, it doesn’t just happen,” Herold stated. “The first step toward developing a culture is to align people with your vision. Your vision needs to trickle down to your employees.”

Herold emphasized the importance of having the right people, and offered advice on getting these people to work for you. “In employee recruitment, is your building, website and workplace attracting A-level people are pushing them away?” he asked.

In addition to having the right kind of person as an employee, Herold warned against keeping the wrong people around, those not aligning to your vision. “Every company should have both job descriptions and scorecards for every position in the company,” he said, adding that you shouldn’t hesitate to fire someone who is impeding growth and not falling in line with what he referred to as the “painted picture,” where your employees are totally in line with the vision and know what you’re thinking. “The cost of keeping the wrong person is 15 times their annual salary,” Herold said.

According to Herold, appealing to A-level employees on a personal level is a good way to retain them. “If you care about your employees’ dreams and goals, and help them meet them, they will go through brick walls for your business. And then you ‘handcuff’ these A-level players with what they value.

“A great workplace culture is not about the free lunch, the perks. It’s about the vision, and the strong foundation," Herold said.

The TLMI 2014 Converter Meeting’s educational program concluded on Tuesday with Marshall Goldsmith, who discussed employee engagement. In addition to the educational presentations, the Converter Meeting also featured a golf tournament, several networking events, the ratio study presentation and an awards dinner.