What's in the Rainmaker's Arsenal?
Can you develop and refine your rainmaking skills? Here's a template to help you decide for yourself.
- Humor and perspective. This business is overwhelmingly about rejection, even for the best of us. A keen sense of humor will
preserve our self-esteem, remind us that nothing we're doing is likely to change the course of western civilization, and prove that
every morning is a new day.
- Presentation skills. Superb presentation skills, whether at formal meetings or across a buyer's desk, often make the
difference between developing a relationship and being consigned to the vendor pile. This has nothing to do with sound and lights
or PowerPoint, and everything to do with expressing yourself articulately, concisely, and accurately.
- Confidence and self-esteem. The ability to have "presence," to remain unshaken by tough questions, to smile in adverse
conditions, and to have the forcefulness to "push back" at the buyer are hallmarks of a rainmaker.
- "Walk away" ability. Not every sale is a good sale, and not every piece of business is desirable. The willingness to turn your
back on less-than-acceptable conditions is one of the keys to growing your business.
- Framing issues. A rainmaker can quickly size up a situation and "frame it" so that both consultant and client can see it
through a common lens. That means cutting through the superfluous and peripheral to zero in on the real issues for client
- Value-added immediacy. This is the technique of providing immediate value to a prospect through insights, ideas, suggestions,
references, and rapport. You don't solve the problem (which would be presumptuous and premature), but you do offer some help
that can be used whether or not the prospect hires you (creating all the more reason to do so).
- Intellectual breadth. Never "dumb down." Demonstrate that the client will be obtaining a valuable, multidimensional resource,
not a narrow specialist. Rainmakers sell overall relationships, not single interventions, thereby creating enduring clients.
- Active listening. You can't learn while you're talking. In fact, the more you talk, the more the buyer can "de-select" you.
Rainmakers know how to listen for issues and opportunities while keeping the prospect talking by paraphrasing, summarizing,
and intermittently agreeing.
- Specific contemporary examples. Few things propel a conversation toward agreement faster than metaphors, analogies, and
clear examples from contemporary business and society. The ability to generate these (e.g., "Your distribution problem reminds
me of the difficulty that The Wall Street Journal faced when it launched its arts section.?") gains conceptual agreement early.
- Bang-bang responsiveness. My service standard for returning calls is 90 minutes, and that simple commitment has generated immeasurable new business, both because I got back to the prospect first and because the prospect knew that the same responsiveness would mark my work for the organization during the project.