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Why We Need Rainmakers (and how to become one)

How do you keep your business afloat during times of uncertainty?

It’s the question most leaders are asking. In the face of uncertainty, every organization wants a Rainmaker.

In earlier times, tribal rainmakers were the people who could seemingly magically cause the rains to fall, ensuring their tribe good crops and prosperity.

The modern business definition of a Rainmaker is not much different. Rainmakers are the people who seemingly magically cause the revenue to come in, ensuring prosperity for their organizations.

As someone who works with sales-driven organizations, I’ve observed hundred of Rainmakers in action. While it might seem like Rainmakers possess mystical powers, there are actually several consistent practices that can be adopted by anyone who wants to help their organization produce revenue in the face economic uncertainty.

The first step is to ditch the prepared PowerPoint. What worked in the past is longer relevant. You don’t produce outsized revenue clinging to a pre-scripted message. In a time of challenge, people want more from their supplies.

Author Andrew Sobel, validated this truism when he interviewed over 8,000 C Suite Executives and top Rainmakers for his new book, It Starts with Clients. Sobel, writes, “Selling and serving clients, especially large corporate clients, is a challenging business. It requires a higher lever of skill and business acumen than it used to.  While your expertise and knowledge are essential, they are merely your ticket to entry.”

Sobel, who also authored Power Questions, describes a coaching client who “Started each new prospect meeting by walking through a very slick, detailed PowerPoint of his company’s background and services. He believed more product information and displays of expertise would build more credibility and trust with his clients. But they didn’t.”

The days when a slick presentation was enough to win business are over.  In today’s world, excessive displays of expertise are more likely to make you look out of touch, irrelevant, and self-focused.  Sobel describes this “expert for hire” approach as a narrow limiting mindset that prevents people from becoming Rainmakers.

Rainmakers make themselves quickly relevant because they have a more expansive, “advisor mindset. “ They think holistically about the customers issues. While this has long been true of all good salespeople, during challenging times, Rainmakers practice this in the extreme.

Sobel’s research also revealed that Rainmakers have “a strong will to win.” In our own work with sales teams, we consistently observe that top performing Rainmakers don’t let setbacks and failure dissuade them. They’re convinced they can win, and will do whatever it takes to accomplish it. Having said that; they’re not bull-nosed, or self-focused. Instead, they are resilient, which is a huge advantage during times of uncertainty and change.

In a rebounding economy, when organizations large and small are looking for immediate revenue, it’s tempting to think short term.  This is a dangerous trap.  Our work with sales teams and the latest research about sales motivation, tells us that sellers whose Noble Purpose is to improve the client’s business clients, build more trust, and generate more revenue.

I’ve long said that success in sales is the art of overcoming human nature. Our human tendency to focus on ourselves, and to see the world through our lens is natural; it’s helped us survive.  But for those who want more than mere survival, stepping beyond your own agenda is crucial.

Rainmakers don’t just make it rain for themselves; they create prosperity for everyone.  We need them now, more than ever