[SSB#19] Value is not a price, its a package
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Welcome to the 19th edition of my newsletter "Supersonic Business", a fortnightly publication by me, Laura Landmark, with a focus on business growth, value and performance management, in other words, all things that make a business better.
Thanks for being here! P.S. Was this email forwarded to you? Get your own!
Sandnes, Norway, Saturday morning, 30th May 2020 ☀️
"Supersonic Business" is sent from me, a Management Accountant, to those that have a leading position in SME's (small/medium businesses), and their accountants. The vision for the newsletter is to share information, tips and tricks to build healthy, thriving businesses from the 'inside out', it is written from the finance and administration perspective.
I hope you enjoy [SSB#19], write to me on email@example.com if you have any feedback or questions.
"Tell me why!"
"Tell me. Why should we buy software from you as a distributor, instead of going directly to the source supplier?" I was politely asked this week.
The question was asked in a friendly way and appeared to come from a place of genuine curiosity. It had a sort of "what's in it for me" ring about it. And why not? it's a valid question!.
I believe the answer is the same for us at Mantle as it is for any supplier. It lies in what we can uniquely offer over and above the product or software itself. The key is what value we can add to the software, it is what we can do for our customers that keeps them coming back for more, or recommending us highly.
Value is what makes people want to do business with us, regardless of our prices. As long as the price is appropriate and not extremely out of line with other providers, it turns out that price is usually not part of the decision making process for value-driven customers.
I will come back to Mantle a bit later, but first some other examples of great value.
Value in time saved:
My daughter came home from school with a hole in her relatively new shirt this week, I have put it straight on the pile of the other clothes that need sewing. When there is enough I will take a trip down to Lillian's sewing studio and deliver the pile to her.
I could do it myself, but I have neither the time or inclination, plus I know Lillian will do a much better job. There is value for me in saving the stress and using up my precious time on something I am really not interested in doing!.
Value in knowledge:
I know a guy who is fantastic with IT. He knows exactly what to do if a PC is playing up, he knows what software will do what, and if he doesn't know the solution immediately, he knows by experience where and how to find out, plus he enjoys the challenge.
There is huge value in his knowledge for all of us who have little time, interest or competence to lay down in keeping our various devices running like clockwork.
He offers value in the form of a lifeline to get things moving again when our lives grind to a halt because our machines have stopped working, or even worse, we have been hacked. He adds value to all the customers he works with by lending them his expertise for an appropriate fee when they need it. Thank goodness for him!
Value in the outcome:
During lockdown, the highlights and lowlights in my hair started growing out, and like many others, I was left with the dreaded "roots"! I brought myself some colour and bunged it on my head as an emergency measure whilst waiting for my hairdresser to open up again. It looked OK when I was done, but was nowhere near as nice as when she does it.
My hairdresser has the knack, she knows intuitively how to mix up the colours, precisely how long to leave it on, plus I get a head massage when I am there (nothing beats that. Massaging your own head is just not the same!).
When she has worked her magic, I come out of her salon looking and feeling like a million dollars. Or at least half a million 😂! There is value for me in the experience and the outcome.
Value in advice:
In my last newsletter, I spoke about the freebie furniture I have picked up for my garden.
It needs painting, and I am going to do the job myself (because I want to... colour therapy!). BUT, I been back and forth to the paint shop to get colour charts and advice from the people working in the paint mixing department. I have asked them about what type of paint I need both for the base and the top layer to get the best and most long-lasting results, plus I have consulted with my husband on sandpaper, cleaning fluids and brushes!
I really don't want to lay down all the required effort for shabby results, so this expert advice to save me wasting my energy is valuable and critical for me.
Value in help:
I have a confession, I HATE forms! This week I got sent a bunch of complicated forms (in Norwegian!) that needed filling out and submitting, with a deadline😬!.
I immediately went to our dear accountant and asked him if he could handle the forms me. I didn't ask him the price, as I know and trust from experience that he will just do whatever is necessary to get the job done. In exchange, he will charge the appropriate price that he needs to charge in order to make his world go around.
This is money well spent. It frees me from having to spend time digesting and understanding something that I have no further use for. I will (most likely) never need to fill in these forms again. He, however, probably has several customers that will need this kind of service, so it is worth him spending his time on. His help frees me up to concentrate on other areas of our business where I can add much more value.
Value in experience:
And why oh why do we all love looking at, listening to (and sniffing - or maybe that is just me!) vinyl records. Just seeing them makes me happy!
Everyone expected them to go extinct when CD's and later MP3s came out. But the reverse is happening, they are enjoying a comeback and are gaining in popularity, not losing it.
Their popularity maybe because there is a different and distinct sound quality to records, coupled with the irresistible scratchy needle noise which evokes a lot of nostalgia in us 70's / 80's kids.
It could also be the look and feel of the records and their covers that give a very tactile experience that can make us feel like you are actually interacting with the music. Let's face it, we dig records, they are valuable for us, and they will not disappear any time soon.
Back to business
So back to us at Mantle, and the question I received. The answer is that there is no reason why you should buy software from us if you don't perceive that we can add value for you. It is up to us to make sure we articulate that value, and we usually do that by spending time getting to know and understand our customers or potential customers.
Value in going deep:
Some of the things people typically appreciate from us are the fact that we, over the last 20-30 years combined, have laid down literally thousands of hours in learning, qualifying, certifying and practicing with various software tools and concepts.
Whether it be completing our Accounting qualifications, or certifying on OneStop Reporting, Bizview 365, Microsoft PowerBI, CargoWise ++, plus mastering numerous programming languages and ERP's (accounting systems).
"we have 'put in the time', we have gone deep, and are going deeper still"!
We have done this partly because we need to and partly because we want to. Our business is to deliver an elegant 'front end' and a great user experience so that our customers can get on with running their core business without the stress or investment in having to learn to use new tools themselves.
Value in compliance:
Our solutions need to be compliant, therefore we take the business and accounting logic we have gained through our professional qualifications and apply it to the technology. We have the drive and incentive to invest in becoming better and better, gaining competence with every job, that we can build on, and expand in future solutions and projects.
We have spent hours obsessing over tiny details to get a filter "just right" or to make a complex formula work its magic, or to test the best way to display information so that it will most effectively convey its point to the end-user.
"Not cheap without reason, nor dear without value" Afgan proverb
Value in understanding:
We have become experts in using these tools so that we can bring this software to life for you as our customer. We work with our customers to understand their needs, then interpret them into formulas, code, queries, frameworks, routines, workflows, templates, charts, and graphs so that they get out what they need and want from their business... effortlessly.
Value in relationships:
We are not alone of course, there are other experts, so it is all about chemistry. We would like to think we are relatively easy to work with, but we are not right for everyone. Our modus operandi is to get heavily involved with our customers and stick with them over the long term.
We like to understand them before we start building, and therefore never just drop a solution and run. It is important therefore that our customers (as people) feel good about working with us (as people). If the connection is not there, then it won't work.
There are other sources that can always provide you with a product, and very often with expertise as well. The software development houses themselves usually have their own great consultants, so in answer to the original questions, "why should we work with you instead of going straight to the source" the answer is there is nothing wrong with that idea if you feel that is the right fit for you.
It is all about convenience and relationships, its about the package. Maybe we are more local, maybe we are working on other parts of the project, and it makes sense to let us handle the whole job. Maybe we have great references, maybe we have worked together before. Maybe our kids play football together, or maybe we just get along really well in our introductory meetings.
There are lots of reasons that we as individuals might click with our customers/suppliers. So in any buy/sell situation, it is worth looking at the big picture to understand what works best for you, as each engagement opportunity is completely unique.
There is no right or wrong, black or white here, as a customer, its important to really focus on the value aspect of any transaction and figure out:-
what is in it for you?
What does your supplier or potential supplier have to offer you that you want, need or desire?
How is working with them going to help you save either time, money or stress?
How is it going to make you feel better?
How will it help you serve your own customers better in a B2B situation, both internal and external?
My personal mission is that I want all of my customers to be able to sit at home with a Saturday morning coffee not stressing about having to do overtime in order to tame the numbers or produce reports.
They should not have to use their free time worrying about finishing off a Board report or the monthly financial report, or how their projects are performing, or whether the bank are going to be on their backs about breaking covenants or going overdrawn. We get the machines working to provide all this information, so the humans can spend their valuable time interpreting the results.
We want to provide our customers with "control", "clarity" & "peace of mind", this is the best we have to offer, and reflective of how we have built up Mantle. We are a one-stop-shop for an effective financial & operational back office.
So, that is a long answer to a short question. There is no blueprint when it comes to finding value, it's all about what works for you. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
"We dont see things as they are, we see things as we are" - Anaïs Nin
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn if you would like to know more about how we use technology to make life in business easier and the way forward clearer.
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The Important Differences Between Price And Value
When we work with clients we take a deep dive into their needs in order to find the right tool for the job. Once we have collected and connected their data and made all the 'plugs and plays' via our own integration platform "Uniifire" we usually need to do something further so that the customer can use their own data.
That often means putting a layer on top of our integration platform so they can see their data displayed in dashboards and reports.
A bit like a car dashboard will give you insight into the inner workings of the car and the performance of the engine. These visualization tools are like your window into the company performance.
An online business dashboard is just the same as a car console, your screens and dials are provided to alert you of things that need attention. But without these dashboards or consoles, you are relatively blind to what is happening beneath the bonnet!.
The value of Mantle is not the price you pay for us to do a job, but it is the insight you get about your own business.
The attached article is about Warren Buffets investment strategy, and how he views the companies that he is going to invest in. He says price is just arbitary, and has absolutely nothing to do with the underlying value.
"Price is what you pay; value is what you get." Warren Buffet
This article is a bit of an old one from 2018, but is packed full of great information on what makes a company a valuable proposition for an investor.
Read the full article here
Five Ways Businesses Can Pivot in Response to COVID-19
This article is written for accounting firms. We have many customers in this branch, and there were some good lessons here. They talk about how surviving the dreaded Covid-19 means accepting what has happened, then figuring out how to turn the "old normal" on its head, and look for ways to drive alternative revenue.
The article says the thing we must avoid at all costs in business is complacency. We need to become super adaptable, and flexible. For any of my English readers, I guess we need to become like morph in Tony Harts 'Take Hart'.
Read the full article here
Every Business Has a Culture: Is Yours Intentionally or Accidentally Created?
This is a very short article, but I liked the content which emphasizes how company culture starts from the top. It talks about companies that are very intentional about their culture always base it on a set of core values. This drives all their decisions from their hires to their environment, and the way they greet their visitors.
At Mantle, we have six core values which we try our best to live by. They are:-
In different ways, these values permeate everything we do. They are what we stand for.
In my opinion, companies that start with their values are often much nicer to deal with than those that do not, or those that don't even appear to have any values!
Yoyo Global Freight is a great example of a company I know that always lead with their values. I have heard so many people say so many great things about their experience with this company, and it must boil down to their culture and their values.
At the end of the day, they are 'just' moving goods from A to B, but they do this with their customers at the absolute front of mind.
They aim to make the experience seamless for the sender and receiver and often go way over and above to make things happen quickly and efficiently. If you need anything sending I suggest you look them up! click here
and... check out the link to the article about culture here
The beauty of values
I love this ted talk. He talks about values being an expression of how we want to continue to live. About them being “Situation independent decision helpers.” He has actually created a museum of values in Berlin, he strikes every chord in me with this talk.
Books on the bedside table this week.
This book is still on the bedside table this week! Anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of how to create win-win scenarios, strengthen relationships, and create better outcomes in a structured and replicable way, Dr. Nashater Deu Solheim's book is right for you.
It is packed with practical models, steps, and concrete examples that are easy to follow and relate to.
The backbone of the book is about how we function as leaders, and how we can meet the needs of others without compromising our own needs. This is just as relevant for leaders in business, as it is for leaders in families, communities, clubs, churches, or anywhere else. I will return to this book many times for inspiration.
Nashater writes from the experienced she has gained in psychology, working with maximum security dangerous prisoners all the way to C-suite executives in the board room. You cannot help but latch onto her simple ABC method of operating. Read it and see.
Always end with a thanks!
🙏Thanks to my customers who have persevered with me over the past few busy weeks, it has been challenging getting to everyone as quickly as I would like, but slowly the workload is getting under control!.
Something to watch
Here is my recent webinar on simulating the future with rolling forecasts, which are about the best management tool that I think exists (rolling forecasts, in general, that is... although mine is also pretty good!) 😁
Thanks for reading & see you next time
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