It’s true that the real rainmakers -- those few who are truly gifted at selling complex products or services – are naturally talented.
Many others -- the rest of us -- are perfectly capable of being wonderful business developers. The opportunity here is to take a look at what talented rainmakers do naturally, that can apply to others who want to sharpen their skills.
Working with and coaching a number of great sellers in and out of professional services over the years, I’ve noticed five habits they have in common. They are certainly worthy of consideration for anyone in a position to sell – or be a business-building ambassador for – an organization with a more sophisticated product or service offer.
While all great sellers don’t do each of these habits 100% (or 100% of the time), the more of each one they do, the higher the likelihood their numbers will be a happy thing.
1. Target Market “Fit”
The degree to which your time / energy is a clear and publicly identifiable fit with your own (and your firm’s) professional “brand” – in terms of expertise, network, personality, purpose, values, position, and distinctive public profile.
2. Blended Life
The degree to which your personal contacts and activities are blended with your professional contacts and activities. You may say , “So much for work / life balance, eh?” But many great rainmakers don’t see socializing with and involving potential clients in their lives as a task, they see it as a natural extension of their love for what they do.
3. Creating Opportunities versus Executing Deals
The amount of time creating opportunities or paving the way for new deals versus executing them. Great rainmakers spend most of their time on originating business versus the nuts and bolts of memorializing the deal. That doesn’t mean they set it up and let it go – since they maintain great relationships with their clients and prospects, they are can’t help but stay updated and make sure whomever they’ve turned to for execution is doing a great job. Yet they don’t micromanage or dwell on the deals being done; they are on to the next one.
4. Effort Level
The level amount of time and effort expended on business development – the more waking hours spent on building new business the better. Since great rainmakers tend to enjoy what they are doing (the thrill of the hunt, as it were), they have no problem spending much of their time on it in one form or another.
5. Rainmaker’s Hearing
The “filter” through which you are hearing any conversation. Even the most innocuous discussions can end up in the direction of business development. Great rainmakers always have a “monitor” going for a direction or vector or lesson that might lead to something – whether a deal might happen, or simply a small personal habit they notice in someone that could sharpen their game.
If someone is at the low end of business development, they don’t need to ratchet all of the above up to 100, and they may not be comfortable with everything here. But certainly sliding up the scale on several or more will upgrade their chances of delivering the best they can possibly do.
(In addition to the above five themes, Mike Schultz’s book, Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation (2011: Wiley) is a great read on the topic.)