July 2014

Advisory Case Study

Falling into Long-Term Decline Due to Offshoring

A 30-year-old, privately held business had fallen into long-term decline and lost money for two years. As a manufacturer of tooling for metal fabricators to produce uniquely shaped parts, it was suffering an industry decline as more than one third of similar U.S. manufacturers had gone out of business in the last 10 years. The business owner had made several changes in sales leadership — and appointed himself as sales manager — with no change in long-term sales revenue.


  • An analysis of customer history over the past five years showed 15% of customers generated 78% of revenue.
  • Sales reps had lost confidence in the company and provided little support of company customer service and engineering teams.
  • Ongoing sales efforts had diminished to answering the phone or fax.
  • No new technology or tooling applications had been introduced by the company for many years.

Read how Platinum mounted a sales growth plan in the face of continued global competition.

Platinum In the News

Max Sacks Track Selling Workshop Set for October 8 - 10


In collaboration with Max Sacks International, Platinum Group will sponsor the October session of the popular Track Selling System™ sales training.

"This is an exceptional workshop that we believe fits Platinum’s definition of 'It's About Value,'" says Tom Ahonen, managing partner. Proven to increase sales by 25 percent or more, the intensive, three-day workshop will be held October 8 – 10 at Olympic Hills Golf Club in Eden Prairie.

Track Selling senior instructor, Ron Holm, says: "Past participants tell us that they sell a wider range of products or services after completing this professional selling program, as well as better success with new customers or clients." Holm has 25 years of sales training experience. He and other experienced sales instructors will facilitate the October workshop.

Participants will learn:

  • a step-by-step sales procedure that is planned, not canned, and based on the science and psychology of how and why people buy;
  • how to balance structure and freedom in their sales efforts — without sounding scripted; and,
  • how to adopt — and adapt — this procedure to their own product, service and sales cycle.

For the past 56 years, the Track Selling System™ has been taught to more than 250,000 sales professionals in 22 countries.

Call Platinum Group at 952.829.5700 or email Ron Holm with questions or to enroll.

Platinum In the Community

Mark Lucas elected to St. Paul-based Nonprofit Board

Mark Lucas

Platinum Group Executive Consultant Mark Lucas was recently elected to the board of Compatible Technology International (CTI), a St. Paul-based nonprofit that creates practical food and water tools for the developing world.

CTI's strategic goals for the next three years include: (1) strengthening food security and markets for small farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa; (2) providing safe water in Central America; (3) empowering women entrepreneurs; and, (4) inspiring innovation, such as post-harvest technology solutions.

"I was drawn to this organization because I can see it transforming and empowering people with tools designed to help improve their situation and give them hope," says Mark. "My role on the board will be building awareness and fundraising."

For more information, email Mark Lucas or visit

Getting to Know...Susan Blakely

Building Relationships through Learning Spanish

By Susan Blakely, PR Consultant to Platinum Group

This is the church camp where Susan befriended
a group of deaconesses from Gethsemane Church
in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala…now
affectionately known as "The Banana Ladies."
(Note, Susan is the tall one in the back.)

Ten years ago I dusted off my high school Spanish while preparing for a short-term mission trip to Guatemala with my church. Simple words and phrases came easily but I quickly figured out that I was no longer conversational. This sparked a desire to communicate and build relationships for future trips. Once home, I found a community education class with a fantastic teacher and continued my journey of loving all things Hispanic: people, language, culture and food.

Learning a language as an adult is no easy task. Workbooks, flash cards and tapes are all helpful, but nothing replaces the actual practice of conversation. In class, we practiced past-tense verbs by chatting about what we did last week and conjugated future-tense verbs by telling about our next holiday plans. We read out loud, performed skits, researched news articles, wrote reports on Hispanic countries, and translated favorite recipes. This all takes time (and memory) but it's lots of fun, including the wonderful side benefit of new friendships.

With subsequent mission trips, I felt more comfortable and bold in speaking with Guatemalans. Five years ago, I had the opportunity to spend the night at a church camp with deaconesses from local churches in a rural area of that country where a Mayan dialect is their first language and Spanish is their second. I shared a dorm room with seven women, a young girl and a baby that opened a fascinating window into their lives. It didn't take long before we started asking questions and laughing together. Upon showing them photos of my family, we came across one of my son holding his new baby kitten, named Bananas. I discovered that some English words are just as funny in Spanish. To this day, I affectionately refer to this group as "The Banana Ladies."

Building relationships through learning another language is a gift that I highly recommend others to give themselves and discover the many joys present around the world

Platinum Group
952.829.5700 • 9855 W 78th Street • Eden Prairie, MN 55344

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