In business today, the term “Rainmaker” is often used to refer to someone who is extremely gifted at developing new business for their professional practice. The term is an especially popular description as applied to partners of law firms that bring in lucrative new business and attract high end clientele to their practice.
The root of the reference can actually be found in American history. In Native American tradition, the Rainmaker was a special and powerful figure. The Rainmaker was called upon to help nature bring rainfall when it was most needed. The Rainmaker was most valuable to the tribe when fields were dry and rains were scarce. The same is true in business today. When the firm’s fields are dry and scarce, the new Rainmaker performs his magic to deliver the much needed “rainfall” of revenue required to nourish the business.
How does one become a Rainmaker? What are the essential traits and skills required to successfully “make rain?” Here are the top 3 "secrets" required to attain the lofty status of “Rainmaker” in YOUR firm.
1) Rainmakers are master networkers- For some professionals; this is more of a trait than a skill because they are naturals at the art of networking. For the rest of us it is a skill that can, and MUST, be mastered in order to successfully make rain. The most challenging element of networking is not the act itself but the discipline required to maintain your network. Once you have added someone to your network it is the frequency of contact that requires the most discipline. You need to be committed to adding as much value to your network as you expect to receive from it. This requires the discipline of dedicated time on a weekly, or even daily, basis to reach out to your network in ways that can add value to the people you call. No matter how busy you may be it is this simple discipline that often separates successful Rainmakers from the pack.
2) Rainmakers are master communicators- While this may seem somewhat obvious the skill is much more complex than just developing great oratory skills. Successful communication is a bi-directional activity and mastering the skill of listening is just as important, if not more so, than being able to clearly articulate your points. At Sandler Training we teach a communication model that can help aspiring Rainmakers to actively listen in balance with asking questions and relating information. Regardless of the process, the skill of balanced communication is essential to effective Rainmaking.
3) Rainmakers keep developing new business ALL THE TIME- One of the most challenging dilemmas of building a professional service practice is that while you are busy DOING the work it is easy to put off business development activity focused on GETTING the work. As stated above in reference to networking, it is critical to develop the discipline of continually filling the business development pipeline regardless of how busy you may be with fulfillment. Successful Rainmakers know that if they wait until they need the new business to start selling, it is too late.
Every business can use more rainmakers and there is nothing more rewarding than being the person your company looks to for a consistent stream of new business. As in ancient times, the Rainmaker is one of the most respected members of the “tribe” and usually one of the better compensated as well.