Conviction is the ability, experience, and willingness to make strong recommendations; to challenge; to emphatically point out strengths and opportunities for improvement in your customer’s business; and to combine the collective wisdom of enablement, training, and customer experience to create a clear future vision for the businesses you service.
Can you acquire conviction overnight? No, but you can develop it quicker than you might think. The secret to generating conviction that leads to massive sales pipeline is to get as close to your customers as you can.
Participating in training exercises, reading case studies, and listening to testimonials can provide a head start but, much like learning to fly a plane by spending time in the simulator, the real secret to conviction is firsthand contact with customers and developing your own street-level perspective of the value your solutions can add.
In the book Leaders Eat Last, author Simon Sinek discusses the concept of abstraction: the idea that the further away you are from something, the less context, conviction, and impact you can have. Simon's rule #3 for avoiding abstraction is summarized by the following:
"As social animals, it is imperative for us to see the actual, tangible impact of our time and effort for our work to have meaning and for us to be motivated to do it even better. When we are able to physically see the positive impact of the decisions we make or the work we do, not only do we feel that our work was worth it, but it also inspires us to work harder and do more."
Adam Grant, a management professor at the Wharton School of Business, conducted an experiment to highlight the power of getting close to your target audience and removing abstraction. In it, he sought to boost the efforts of the school’s fundraising department by having students who received scholarship-funded donations share firsthand stories of how the scholarship they received changed their lives. The result: a 400% increase in average weekly donation revenue in the following month alone.
When it comes to developing conviction, it’s also vital that you work on refining your sales pitch. Poor, schlocky, low-impact pitches often leave sales reps conflicted about calling on customers because they feel they’re bothering them and adding little value. By contrast, it’s much easier to find conviction in a well-structured pitch rooted in compelling fact and beliefs.
Make your message polarizing and easy for your team to articulate by focusing it on a single problem that is already well-understood by your target audience. Building pipeline is never easy, but when it comes building a world-class sales operation, reps armed with firsthand stories, experience, business acumen, and a compelling pitch will always be set up to dominate.