Technically, this episode is about why your company should have a page on its website where people can buy your products and services. We do discuss that, but we also got sidetracked into a fairly long segment about the origins of some Swedish sayings - so if you're on your summer holidays and aren't feeling up for too much business talk, this is the episode for you.
It's often accepted that buying products in the B2B sector is difficult. You need to get offers, possibly receive a visit from the supplier, and have a few review meetings to weigh up your options and make a decision. Often this is the best way to go, but it doesn't always need to be like that - your customers can and do research on their options independently, and it's often the case that they already know what they want to buy when they come to you. So why not let them? On our site, we have a page with our full offering - a few things you can buy directly, and for others, you have the option to recieve a quote. We still work with customers to develop individual solutions, but for those who know what they want, there's an easy way to get it.
This discussion comes in the second half of this episode - the first half is less work-related. A question came up about the origin of the Swedish saying "ingen ko på isen", and we felt we had to call in Zooma's own language expert Pe Ishii to give us a hand. The discussion wasn't about digitalisation, for once, but it wasn't any less entertaining than usual. Enjoy, and let us know if you learned something!
You can listen to this episode on Spotify or Soundcloud, and the transcription is available below if you're in a rush. You can also subscribe, either on these podcast platforms, or right here on the blog.
Alexander Evjenth: [00:00:00] A while ago, we published a new website, Anders, at zooma.se, or we renovated the old one?
Anders Björklund: [00:00:16] I could actually be a bit rude to him and say that's the first time ever in 20 years that we had a decent .com or in this case .se. The principal when we started Zooma in 2001 was that it should be really, really difficult to find any information about Zooma. The reason for that was that some of us came from companies who had been standing on the barricades at the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 2000s, screaming about the Internet and talking about ourselves. So so one of the thoughts was this company will only be based on recommendations and it should be very, very difficult to find any information and definitely impossible to find anything about customer relations. And that stayed for a very long time until we made the decision mid-2019 that whatever we do in Zooma when it comes to sales, service, marketing, operations and everything else should be two phases - we experiment on ourselves, we create the best practice and we convince and support our customers in implementing best practice, instead of doing the experiments on the customers.
AE: [00:01:43] Yeah, and we really increased the amount of internal time there as well, too. And, uh, and before would you say that it was 'skomakarens barn', what's the English expression for that Doug?
DB: [00:02:00] Skomakarens barn, the shoemaker's child? I've never heard that in my life before I have to say, what does it mean?
AB: [00:02:07] In German it's 'der schumachers kind'. Where is this episode heading?
DB: [00:02:20] What's the meaning of it?
AB: [00:02:22] When you are the kids of the shoemaker, you very seldom have well-polished shoes, because he doesn't or she doesn't have time to take care of their own children's shoes. They work so much. Pe, our colleague, can most likely explain that expression. Perhaps we should have an episode asking Pe where does that expression come from? Because in Swedish there's an expression much, much better to ask Pe about this, but in Swedish people say, 'det är ingen ko på isen', 'there's no cow on the ice', and that's most likely very true. But in Swedish, 'as long as the legs are still on the ground', is the English expression. And of course there's no cow on the ice if they have the legs on land. But in Swedish that became 'there's no cow on the ice', which is a very difficult expression to understand because very seldom cows are on the ice. So it can be difficult with translation sometimes. And I know that I didn't exactly phrase the English one, but let's ask Pe in an episode. Or perhaps we should call him now?
AE: [00:03:48] Yeah, I can call him. I see that he's available.
AB: [00:03:52] Yeah, then we should give him a ring and he needs to adapt. Let's see what happens. Um, for the listeners, Alexander, we're in a Zoom meeting, and let's see if we can invite him, otherwise we move on.
AE: [00:04:07] Here he is, hi Pe.
Pe Ishii: [00:04:09] Tjena!
AB: [00:04:10] You are in a recording episode of our pod, and suddenly in the pod, Alexander said, 'the shoemaker's child', 'skomakarens barn'. And then we made a spin moving over to 'there's no cow on the ice'. I know that you know that that is the wrong way to say it. What's the origin of 'ingen ko på isen', 'no cow on the ice' in English?
PI: [00:04:44] Yes, it's an old saying in rural Sweden, in winter time, if the cows drowned, if the ice broke, that would be a disaster for a family, it can mean the difference between survival or a complete breakdown for a family. So the original saying is: 'there is no cow on the ice as long as she's got the backbones on the shore.'
AB: [00:05:17] That was how it was, I told Alexander, I said 'the legs are on land', but it's the back legs or the backbones.
PI: [00:05:26] Yeah, 'ingen ko på isen så länge rumpan står på land'.
AB: [00:05:31] So it's 'rumpan'. Good, good. Good that we solved this. Do you have anything to tell about the background of the shoemaker's child, skomakarens barn?
PI: [00:05:45] I think there's a misunderstanding, because it's the baker's child, who should never be offered cinnamon buns. Uh, you are confusing this with 'skomakare, bliv vid din läst', meaning that you should not do anything or have any opinion about things that you don't know. This has been misinterpreted during the years, because originally it's a Greek tradition from the artist Apelles,w who in the third century before Christ was painting and had an audience watching, and there was actually a shoemaker who suggested that he change a detail on the shoe because the shoemaker wouldn't do it that way. So Apelles thanked him and he changed the detail. Then after a while, the shoemaker had an opinion about how the arm was painted. Then Apelles turned to him and said, "Shoemaker, not above the ankle". Så originalet är 'skomakare, inte ovanför vristen', och den har gjorts om till svenska till 'skomakare, bliv vid din läst', alltså håll dig till det du kan!
AB: [00:06:55] Pe, it's always a pleasure. And now you know why we called you. We should stay at the things we know about, and call you when we don't know about it. Thank you very much.
AE: [00:07:08] Thank you. Yeah, and the real purpose of this podcast is to make the dialogues which I hear at Zooma, to make them available for everyone and for our listeners. And this is, um, sometimes our dialogues end up and take a spin. We were talking about our new website! And a while ago, Anders, you said that we made a decision that we will create everything before recommending it for customers. And our new website, we have published an episode about our new website, right Doug?
DB: [00:08:01] That was about the corporate site, I believe.
AE: [00:08:04] Ok, yeah. So in another episode, we will probably talk more about the navigation part and structure of the new website. And for you listeners who have seen this website, we have a 'buy' section which we didn't have before. Could you explain a bit for our listeners what this by section is, Anders?
AB: [00:08:28] One, all companies in the whole world should have a 'buy' section. If we looked at B2B, they love to have product sections, service sections, solutions, sections, blah, blah, blah. But, hey, there's a reason why I go somewhere. I'm interested in something. And if I'm even on a company's website, I'm there because I'm interested. I'm looking for a job. I'm looking for product, I'm looking for a solution. And I have a need. I have a challenge. I heard something good about this company, but come on, 2021. There must be either the button saying 'I want an offer' or 'buy'. That's usually the two things. When you start looking at services, solutions and products that you want. So due to that, this is how we tell our customers we must have it ourselves. So we have a 'buy' section containing most parts of our offering in Zooma. We have divided them into the different sort of groups that they belong to. And some of them you can buy through our e-commerce and some of them you can ask for quotes. And that has sort of been very good from two perspectives from Zooma's perspective commercially and from showing a good example or a best practice on how you can put up everything anyone could be interested in buying or getting a quote on.
AE: [00:10:07] And in some of these offerings, we have prices as well. For example, the keynotes here, this is not widely used among B2B companies, to actually put a number out there. Why do we do it?
AB: [00:10:26] It's culture and tradition. The most common feedback is, "we can't put our prices there because then the competitors know how much we charge". That's one and another one is, "yeah, but that depends on the volumes that they buy from us." I know from testing with different clients that it's usually good to at least put the highest price in most B2B relations, you know, that you can negotiate based on the volumes and the commitment and how many years. And I think it would be very advantageous for any supplier or company in B2B to put a highest price. Because if you for example, when Tesla came, let's take that as an example. When Polestar now came as cars, what is one of the first things you look at? You look at the price. And in one of those brands' cases, they actually managed to make people think "wow, hundred thousand euro for a car. How much did I pay for my existing Swedish car? I paid sixty thousand. Oh, that's not that much more." And we all in all situations, approximately, if we look at a table for a dining room or a new bed or whatever, we love the bed when we see it visually, that's exactly what we want to buy. And then it's fifteen thousand euro for it. And then perhaps we think, "oh, I wish I had a bit more money or a lot of money." So, I think it's a huge mistake indeed not to put out the prices. And in our case we have also the possibility to find out approximately how much do you need in the yearly budget to achieve what you want to achieve when you are a consumer. I think that's fair. And in our case, we never lower the prices so we can put out prices. We don't need to put the higher price. It doesn't matter the volume. You don't get any reduction on the price if you want to work with us.
AE: [00:12:41] And some offerings have a request, a quote, is our end goal to have a fixed price on all our offerings?
AB: [00:12:51] I would love that, in the cases where that is common right now, that there are a lot of requests based on all the 'ifs' and 'buts' if you're going to do something, no matter if it's a training or if it's workshops or if it's a brand strategy or whatever it is, some of the things you can say, "yeah, this will take three days and do this and that. And these are your deliveries and our deliverables." And in some other cases it's a bit ridiculous if you put if and but and you can have a span between ten thousand and one hundred thousand euros or one hundred and fifty thousand euros, so. We will get closer and closer to that, the more you pack package things, the easier it is for your potential and existing customers to make decisions
AE: [00:13:39] And have any potential customers made a purchase here yet, or?
AB: [00:13:46] Not a potential, but an existing one. And, then through request a quote, that's a very good thing when you are a potential customer because there's no commitment to ask for a quote. And the good thing for a company that receives a request for a quote is that they know who is asking so they can think internally and say, do we want to respond to this or not? And then, I mean, respond on sending an offer of the response. But what do they do? They want to interact and do business with this company, yes or no, and then make them bite. Yes, we would love to hear the offer or we're having some doubts. Let's have more discussions.
AE: [00:14:28] Yeah. Talking about that commitment which purchasing online actually means, how should you think, I mean if you have a very expensive offering, do you think the decision makers are ready to make a purchase, clicking a button, or do you need anything in between there?
AB: [00:15:00] In our case, it's much easier for existing customers to click a 'buy' button. Many of our customers have onlinified together with us lots of the relations when it comes to offerings, when it comes to sort of digital signage and when it comes to the invoices and everything else. And I think especially when sort of perhaps the head office has been buying something that they're going to do with the sort of parent company, sister companies or their resellers or anything, then it's very easy to use that functionality. But I mean, if you let me make a short spin, if we now would start Googling for European e-commerce specialist companies and we sort of tried to find the 10 top-notch e-commerce companies providing the best software and the best consultants and advice and strategies and so on. If if I would be a prospective customer and I come to their online presence, what can I buy from them now? You claim for me as a prospective B2B customer that you are e-commerce specialist. Why do you not sell anything on your site? Why can't I order or buy a pre-study, you must have done pre-studies before for comparable companies? Why can't I see what strategists are available right now and why can't I book them in their calendars, and why can't I buy the packages? You must have experience from on a fixed price knowing implementation type A always takes six weeks, these are the prerequisites, these are the deliverables, these are the implications. This is the amount of time it takes to do an implementation if you today have this system implemented in these many countries, why can't they do that? And I think if I was a prospective customer, I would never buy an e-commerce solution or anything else from an e-commerce company if I can't buy it through online, because how should they help me if they don't do it themselves? And that, I think, as well, with a company like ours and many of our customers. I mean, it's a no-brainer that some people prefer to purchase and handle the whole relation through online and some others do it differently. But you must provide the possibility whatever you sell, you must provide the possibility to handle a hundred percent of the relation through online and digital. So we're on our way to becoming modern and we need to be a best practice for everyone that we support and help.
AE: [00:17:44] Yeah, very good. Thank you for explaining a bit about the 'buy' section.
AB: [00:17:56] You're very kind Alexander.
AE: [00:17:58] You are very kind, Anders.
AE: [00:18:04] So I think that's an episode.
AB: [00:18:08] Perhaps it is.