North American Association of Sales Engineers

North American Association of Sales Engineers

European Association of Sales Engineers

What is psychological inertia? or… What is wrong with us?

Have you ever been in a situation where while discussing different solutions for a problem, you and your group is trying to solve, people finding all kind of reasons why something is impossible or extremely difficult? The arguments might sound like “It’s very difficult”, “This solution is very expensive”, “It’s not going to work!”, or even “This is a stupid idea!”
I am pretty certain you have. This phenomenon, and many more, are part of Psychological Inertia.

Now, let’s dive into the details.

Definition

I always like to start with the plain and dry definition. Unfortunately, Cambridge dictionary does not have this definition, so I’ll have to default to Wikipedia:

Psychological inertia is the tendency to maintain the status-quo (or default option) unless compelled by a psychological motive to intervene or reject this. … Psychological inertia has also seen to be relevant in areas of health, crime and within the workplace.

Now, this is a lot of words in one long sentence. I personally had to reread it multiple times to actually understand what it means, and frankly, without having the background on the subject, I am not sure if I ever could get it correctly and interpret it to the real-life experience.

I’ll try to explain what does it mean in my view based on our experience and real-life events and examples.

It can’t be done!

For the matter of this article, “It can’t be done” is the same as “It is too expensive”, “extremely difficult”, or any other way to say that some idea is not good enough. I want to come back and expand on the same example I described at the very beginning.

Many times throughout my career, I’ve seen myself and others getting stuck on various reasons why not to evaluate a solution, why not experiment with an idea, and so on. Some might call it excuses or laziness, but the reality is, we don’t really want to do or try something that we don’t believe in.

So, unless there is some outside force, an additional push that can prove us wrong, we will resist a proposed solution we don’t believe in until the end of days.

Unwillingness to explore something we don’t believe in is part of psychological inertia.

Professional experience:

When we first started to present the idea of problem-solving tools to other people and tried explaining what are they good for, the majority (and many still to this day) were very skeptical about it. Here are a couple of arguments we were getting:

  • What’s wrong what how people solve problems today?
  • How can you create tools that help me solve problems? it’s all coming from my experience!
  • If I have a problem that I am stuck with, I’ll hire a professional!

Note: I want to highlight that this skepticism is also caused by psychological inertia. It’s just another version of “It can’t be done because I don’t believe in it!”

Back to Professional Experience…

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that the cloud below is the entire, currently available, and continuously growing knowledge and experience.

The experience of our engineers, John, Maria and Bob, are marked with different shapes and colors. Well, of course, they do have different experiences, right? And some of their knowledge overlaps. Great!

The solutions that we are searching for are marked with red dots. If you noticed, one of the solutions falls well within the existing experience of our great engineers. But what about the two others? This is exactly the point where the team starts scratching their heads, searching the web, and trying to come up with different ideas for how to solve this particular problem. It is important to say though, that when they do provide a solution outside of their expertise, for the most part, these are not easily accepted. Why? Again, because people are generally don’t accept what they don’t believe in, what they don’t understand, and what they didn’t experience themselves.

Another point to make, it takes awful a lot of time to provide solutions that fall outside of our expertise. One might say: “Of course it takes more time, to do it, you have to learn something new and, ultimately, expand your experience!” And it is not going to be wrong. Nevertheless, there is another reason – psychological inertia. We are naturally seeking solutions within our experience.

Same as in the previous part, unless there is an outside force that will push us, it is hard to look outside of our own experience. Without such force, the only team’s chance is a lot of trial and error and some luck.

Difficulty in search for solutions outside of our own experience is caused by psychological inertia.

The comfort zone

In order to get out there and start digging into the unknown, we need to leave our comfort zone. It is easier said than done. There is a reason why the comfort zone is called the comfort zone. It is comfortable to stay there, easier to operate, it does not require any additional effort to be in the comfort zone. That’s understandable. To get out of it, we have to learn something new, try things we never did before; we need to invest in real work to do so. But we, as humans, are pretty lazy, aren’t we?

An average person will always choose the path of least resistance. But there is a catch… the choice will be out all the options within the available knowledge of that person. There very well might be another, even easier path, which is simply not yet explored. However, to explore that path, one will have to get out of his comfort zone.

Difficulty to break out of our comfort zone to search for better solutions is caused by psychological inertia.

But humanity is always progressing!

I can probably endlessly continue with examples and what our psychological inertia causes. In general, it will all be the same, from a different angle. I do want to switch gears a bit.

Many people we presented our solution to told us: “But humanity is always progressing without any special tools!”. For that, I will answer: “That is simply not true!”. And here is why.

Certainly, humanity IS progressing and IS innovating all the time. Some individuals did and doing it exceptionally well. Take Nikola Tesla as an example. His brain was probably exploding with ideas, he was virtually living outside of his comfort zone all the time. Let’s just say, he was not wired as most of us. Many other notable geniuses are/were thinking differently. They are geniuses for a reason!

An average human being also innovates. But here I want to ask how much effort and how long it takes. Countless examples of innovations that look trivial today, originally took many many years to be discovered and developed, even though the technology already existed (look up the history of a suitcase on wheels – it took over 10 years from the original version to the first accepted once that people actually used).

Regardless of how we innovate and generate ideas, in order to do it faster, we must use some sort of systematic approach. Whatever that approach is. Without that, all we have is the time waiting for revelation.

Any systematic approach to problem-solving helps to break out of psychological inertia.

Acceptance

Before I wrap up, I want to answer the second question in the title of this article: “What is wrong with us?”.

The simplest answer for that is: “Nothing!”. We are just being humans. This is how we are wired and how we think. Try reading more about psychological inertia, you’ll see that this phenomenon is not well understood, including the reasons for it. And to understand that is not the purpose of this article, it will not solve any problem for us as innovators. Breaking out of psychological inertia WILL solve a lot of problems!

Ironically, to break out of psychological inertia, we need to accept that we need help with it. And this, within itself, is bound by psychological inertia. The faster we accept this fact, the faster we can start improving our thinking and become more creative innovators.

Breaking out of pattern

Now, that we accepted our faith, let’s start changing it.

Several tools and methodologies exist for that. The simplest is a pen and paper or a whiteboard. Some more sophisticated include different charting tools, idea management tools, project management tools, and so on.

PRIZ Innovation Platform is the only SaaS tool specifically built for one purpose only; to help engineers break out of pattern – out of psychological inertia. At its core, it offers various problem-solving tools. And as a reminder, innovation is a solution for somebody’s problem.

For more information about this article visit there website:

https://app.priz.guru/?_ga=2.158480954.1491265703.1637487525-1212789261.1637487525

Constant team or varied partners?  What works best in sales engineering?

I’ve worked in both situations.  Sometimes as an SE I worked exclusively, or close to exclusively with one salesperson (AE).  I’ve also worked with different AEs depending on industry or geography.  I’ve liked both. 

I struggled with the 1:1 only because I just didn’t connect with the AE’s style.  But even then, over time we learned to work well and efficiently together. 

I was an SE in the software industry.  I watched my husband work in a 1:1 team arrangement in the medical diagnostic equipment industry.  He was the AE.  He worked with one SE.  They were a strong team who were friendly as well as efficient.  For them, it seemed to work perfectly.

I didn’t like working with different AEs all the time.  Didn’t hate it but it was hard to establish an efficient cadence.

So what are the pros and cons?

1:11:Several
Efficiency
You get to know each other and develop shortcuts
+
More deals to work
Especially important in areas like Canada with less ability to segment market due to population
+
Creativity
Working with different people should naturally bring new & approaches that could be lost in getting used to doing things the same way.
+
Need for rapport
Always important. But with 1:1 more critical.
±±

What do you think? tell us in comments below.

Special Thanks to Aileen McNabb for writing this article, for more information related to this article you can visit her website: https://mustangppd.com/

Value of a 3rd Party General Competitor Analysis

Businesses, and all kinds of organizations including associations, can often get stuck by looking at their business and the overall market through their own lens and opinion. This can prove to be a substantial mistake. It is for this reason that NAASE entered into an engagement with International Growth Solutions ( https://international-growth-solutions.com/ ), for IGS to conduct a competitor and marketplace analysis for our Association’s Executives.

After approximately 2 weeks, IGS provided an excellent overview of the relevant Association “space”, which included the following in the Table of Contents of their report:

Purpose

Means/Methods of Research and Data Points

Blind Spots

Appendix including a Competitor Overview

Managerial Recommendations

There were several highlights of the Report and the findings. There was an excellent analysis and explanation of “blind spots”. From the report:

Observation of companies’ strategic moves suggests that flaws exist in some competitive analysis. These flaws or blind spots result from a company’s mistaken or incomplete view of its industry and competition, inaccurate managerial perceptions, or ineffective organizational processes.
Some of such blind spots are particularly serious: (1) misjudging industry boundaries; (2) poor identification of the competition; (3) overemphasis on competitors’ visible competence; (4) overemphasis on where, not how, rivals compete; and (5) faulty assumptions about the competition. These blind spots can cause the selection of the wrong strategy. Flawed competitive analysis, resulting from these blind spots, weakens organizations’ ability to seize opportunities, ultimately leading to an erosion in the company’s market position and profitability.

The report then continued with some in-depth points on each of the 5 items noted above.

Mapping the Competitive Landscape

An excellent graphical representation of our competitive landscape was included, which mapped out Indirect Competitors, Direct Competitors, as well as Potential Competitors based on Resource Similarity & Market Commonality. The key outcome here is that businesses need to be fully aware of the multitude of INDIRECT competitors which can effect their success; there are typically many more indirect competitors than direct.

Appendix/ Listing – all in one place

The report included an extensive listing of “all” the direct and indirect competitors, with organization names, hyperlinks, sizes, age of business, main purposes, # LinkedIn Followers, location of HQ, and other data points listed. Moving forward, this is great to have all in one easy location, for a reference.

Stepping back, to Step Forward

This report was the kind of assistance needed to help build further success, especially for a small or medium business. Irregardless of any original or updated business plan, and/or current profitability. International Growth Solutions offers candid business and marketing research, on a time-sensitive basis- at an affordable rate.

5 Key Ways to Drive Customer Experience into Product Strategy

(by Stephanie O’Connell)

How hard is it to be your customer?

Customer experience is how customers perceive and feel about your product or service. What kind of impression it leaves on them and the lasting impact they have about your company as a brand.

In a world where software can become a commodity and empowered consumers can replace your solution for another solution, companies need to be reliably delivering a memorable customer experience in order for your organization and your brand to survive.

Thinking about customer experience means not only thinking about your solution’s usability, but  also about how the product can drive each stage of the product roadmap and customer journey to ensure that customers recognize ongoing value.

The customer experience is the next competitive battleground- Jerry Gregoire

Increasing Role of Customer Experience

A good customer experience plan will increase customer retention, strengthen customer satisfaction, increase cross- selling and up selling opportunities and drive product roadmaps. Companies should incorporate superior products with equally important superior customer experiences.

Some companies don’t understand why they should worry about customer experience when it comes to product. But ask yourself who are you designing the product for?

Customer experience is important for any business structure, but it should be built into the Product Teams strategy when it comes to planning a product roadmap for an existing solution or when in the initial stages of something new.


Customer Experience: Five Key Elements

When creating a plan to incorporate customer experience into your product strategy there are five key elements that you can review internally straight away in order to see ROI. These examples can translate the customers voice into actionable takeaways for your team in order to improve the customers’ overall experience.


1. Identify your companies’ touchpoints

Customer touchpoints are all the points of contact that your company has with their prospects and customers. Determining your touchpoints is the first step toward creating an engaging customer experience program.
Three categories of touchpoints can be: Before Purchase, During Purchase and After Purchase.

Example:

  • Before Purchase- social media, word of mouth, advertising, marketing
    • During Purchase- Website, Staff Interaction with Pre-sales/ Sales
    • After Purchase- Billing, Staff interaction with Operations Department, Help Center, Follow Ups, Renewals

A negative experience during any touchpoint may set back all your efforts to deliver a quality customer experience. To improve customer satisfaction, your team needs to ensure that each outlined touchpoint ends up being a positive experience.


2. When building new products, it is key to remember what the customer wants from you.
By considering how your customers see and value you, you can learn how to develop and maintain your credibility within your industry. Credibility and reliability are everything in software. This is what makes end- users champions of your product.

3. Always prioritize customer experience

A company’s mission should be far larger than what your solution solves in your industry. Your company should create core values that celebrates and measures quality customer experiences.

Customer experience doesn’t fall to just one department. This is organizational wide from the marketing material, sales demo, implementation to after the customer has left.

Ideas you can implement now:
Moving forward the customer voice is always considered during discussions, plans and decisions. Your team should be asking “how will this help our customer?” and “what value does this deliver?”

4. Talk to your customers/ prospects

When speaking with your customers and prospects it’s valuable to use their feedback to plan your product roadmap.

Perception vs Reality. In other words what the product team is envisioning but the reality is what the customer is actually experiencing. It is always better to understand your customers problems before you sink any money or time into a product that may be unwanted. The only way to truly understand their friction points is to ask them.

Most customer experience strategies can include:

  • Custom Crafted Surveys
  • Open Ended Questions
  • Customer Interviews

Ideas you can implement now:
Have your staff follow up to customer requests without being asked. Customers appreciate not having to chase someone for a response or repeatedly ask to be kept up to date on open issues.

Add a communication tool into your product for automating feedback. If a live chat doesn’t fit with your product, you can also utilize the support ticketing system you may have. By creating a category labelled Feature Requests, when a customer has an ask or provides feedback about a certain product, the ticket can be categorized as a feature request so that the product team can review internally every quarter to see if any of those ideas fit in with the company’s roadmap or would be considered an easy win with quick ROI.

Allow your customers to mark their satisfaction level after an implementation and/or support ticket. Some companies are afraid of the repercussions by starting with low results, but it will be tough to improve if you don’t know where your customer satisfaction currently lies.

5. Emphasizing Data Insights

It’s important to celebrate the good moments but even more impactful is facing the hard facts by digging into the areas you need to improve.

Analytics has a large role to play. This doesn’t come from just data collection but from your customer base, by gathering insights from the feedback received.

Ideas you can implement now:
Scroll heatmaps can be used to determine which areas of your product are the most and least used, this can prompt the team to investigate the reasons why.

Segment your data for different customer behaviours. This will allow you to review particular customers who may be performing worse or better then others while using the same product.

Align the organization around the customer. It’s important not to just develop guiding principles but your team needs to use the data that is compiled to follow through on supporting those principles.


Final Thoughts


If the product you sell does what it’s designed to do, and the service you provide is meeting or even better by exceeding expectations, there is one additional measure you can take to bring your experience to a whole new level.

Be easier & convenient to do business with.Questions to consider to get started:
Does your Pre-sales team promptly schedule demo requests for prospects or current clients?
Is signing a contract or SOW a complicated process?
Are all departments responsive to questions (implementation, customer support, accounting, sales etc)?
Can your customers call your support team directly if there is an urgent issue? or are they required to submit an email and wait in queue.
Do your company’s hours of operations reflect the time zones they do business in?

When creating your customer experience program to align with product strategy, make sure that the customer experience is embedded throughout the entire design and development process.

(Stephanie O’Connell is a Solution Engineer for a software firm, and she is also a Member of the Advisory Board for NAASE.)

Accelerating the Sales Cycle with a LivePDF

How to cut down your sales cycle time in half, using augmented media messaging inside Documents instead of waiting for web conferences.

Are you feeling drained by endless web conferences and meetings? How much more sales could you achieve if you could cut your sales cycle time in half? And what would this extra time and money mean for you and your family, or this project of yours you are so eager to dust off?

The solution is ridiculously simple once we think about it. It’s messaging, but of an entirely new type, using augmented web.

So, what’s the point of messaging?

To continue the conversation without waiting for the other side to be available. That’s why voice messaging and whatsapp audio are so popular as they have debottlenecked phone calls. 

Unfortunately, it works for sound only. So when it’s visual on Documents with tables, diagrams, images with numbering legends, sound only won’t work. It has to go through web conferences.

  • That’s why web conferences create so much agenda overload and it has a name, “ZOOM fatigue”
  • That’s why it takes so much time to move your deals forward.
  • That’s why a client canceling a webconference is so damaging.
  • That’s why your other alternative is to write ineffective long walls of text in an attempt to clarify questions on your Doc.
  • That’s why you lose deals to the competition when you don’t have the opportunity to clarify your document.

GraphCall LivePDF is a NEW two-way visual messaging inside documents using a new recording technology different than Video, leveraging 11 of the 13 new augmented web standards now powering 95% of all web browsers.

What whatsapp audio does to debottleneck phone calls, GraphCall LivePDF does it visually inside Documents to debottleneck webconferences.

  • It’s visual and animated for a perfect explanation, far more interactive than Video.
  • It’s fast, requiring 5X clicks only and NO edits (using the app or the chrome extension), YET you achieve 5X more information retention by your client.
  • It preserves and delivers a readable resizeable document on all devices, as your client needs a document to read, not a screen capture of it!
  • It’s a true two-way conversation: you add your MessengerBOX to your Document in 5 Clicks, but your client can reply in only 4 simply reusing the MessengerBOX which is already inside the Document he/she received.

Those who embrace the future always get ahead. Augmented web messaging for documents (brochures, quotes, manuals) is here.

Lead the way. Get scale and speed on your sales communication. Explain and discuss your documents at all times at all places, without waiting for web conferences, effortlessly with GraphCall LivePDF.

Check how fast and convenient it is HERE.

(Written by Geoffrey Fouvry)