According to Barclay Palmer in this Investopedia article:
“In everyday usage, the term “rainmaker” can apply to anyone–from the salesperson who always books the most sales to the marketing guru who consistently finds innovative ways to present a company’s products. In the purest sense, a rainmaker is a difference-maker, someone capable of turning the tide when things get rough, or bringing new money or accounts to the business that other people could not.”
People frequently associate the term ‘rainmaker’ with that of ‘salesperson’. Only two out of ten of your sales staff are truly salespeople. The rest are mere order-takers. When I made that assertion while on a panel at an industry event a few years ago, I got howls of indignation from some in the audience (“my salespeople are the best in the business”.) Even the panel’s moderator gave me some flak.
If you think about it, my claim is true. Many of your sales activities are equivalent to ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ or taking inbound orders. The composition of the market within which you operate is pretty well established including who are the targets of your sales efforts, and very little actual prospecting or cold calling actually happens in most companies. But how many of your sales staff could start a business based upon their own efforts and keep it running for years? The answer is probably only about 20%. Those could be your rainmakers – a mere one out of every five of your sales staff.
Do you have anyone who could save your business by generating new revenue? How would you even know where to find such people? Here’s a clue: anyone who is a solo practitioner in our industry is a rainmaker – out of necessity. Otherwise, they’d be out of business.
But let me correct some common misunderstandings:
1) You can’t get sales by doing good work and then waiting by the phone for the results of those efforts;
2) You can’t presume to easily find and hire rainmakers. They already have the best compensation or are doing something they want to do. How are you going to entice them away from their current situations?
3) You can’t easily remunerate rainmakers. They already know how to optimize their compensation. Their demands are steep and their requirements of you, high.
Top Rainmakers Skills (listed in their order of importance, per Alan Weiss)
- Ethical Standards
- Attention to Detail
It’s almost impossible to find all of this in a person who’s also able to follow through on delivery. That’s why the ideal arrangement is to have logistics people handle the details (think of buying a car as an example- where you have the sales people sell you the car, then a finance person takes care of the details and payment.) Your task in uncovering rainmakers is to do your best to find the right mixture of these attributes above and staff accordingly.
Where groundbreaking sales are being made, there is a rainmaker somewhere in the picture. Need to find one? Give me a call.
Thanks to Alan Weiss, and his Million Dollar Consulting book, for the inspiration – and some of the detail – in this article.