Ten Tips For Rainmaking
At the final Rainmaker coaching session with the managing partner of a boutique accountancy business before a summer break I asked what we might usefully do, since over six months we had covered all aspects of making the rain, from sorting out time and systems to closing business.
“Give me your top ten essential tips”, so there then followed 90 minutes where we agreed ten hot tips for making the rain right over the summer:
GET TO THE RIGHT ROOMS
Networking is back, but your time is precious: be where the action is.
While online networking was better than anyone supposed, the business world is getting back to reality. Morning, noon and night there will be opportunities to go out and press the flesh in a stickier, messier, more intimate and kinetic way.
It’s been two years, so polish those shoes and wear proper trousers. The right rooms are the seminars, workshops and conferences where your prospects are; your clients are; and your colleagues are.
For those who might swerve this activity (people have had dogs before and your kids were at school before lockdown) remember you’re not twelve and it’s essential you are visible. Face to face networking has competition from all manner of virtual techniques but it’ll be a while before Mark’s made avatars of us all.
To those who would go to the opening of a packet of Wotsits, select carefully where to devote your time by taking a step back, take a breath and work out where you should go.
Remember many of the right rooms will contain your colleagues!
FOLLOW UP IMMEDIATELY
Within a week, or you might as well burn those business cards on the patio.
Conscientiousness, being industrious and orderly, is the first of the Big Five and a significant marker of business success. There is no point in getting the glad rags on, travelling to a venue and schmoosing your cotton socks off if you let it all slip through your fingers in the aftermath.
Be assiduous in your follow up, make it thoughtful and personal and congruent with your character.
First, do it immediately after, ideally the next day but certainly within a week. Second, put something memorable and quirky in there so they can separate you from the chaff. Third, have an action that will keep the pot boiling; that might be a Linked In invite and that you will ping them again in a few months, or a specific bit of business follow up you want to action via a meeting.
SPEAK AT EVENTS
Being articulate one in front of many is essential; it displays your deep knowledge and expertise
Right now, people organising events and keen to book terrific speakers. Becoming a good speaker will take time but the ROI will astonish you.
Big audience speaking is the most effective way to get in front of many prospects, with the additional advantage that high quality video is put out afterwards on Linked In and elsewhere.
It would take a few years to get around the few hundred delegates you might educate and entertain at a single conference; if you knock ‘em dead over 45 minutes they will all know who you are and what you do.
Let me be specific: have a specialism or two, be a proper expert; be articulate, many gifts are conferred to you if you speak well; have three 45 minute seminars good to go; they will be 15 minute keynotes with a little work; prepare the ass of them when you get a chance to be behind the lectern; use fewer slides in face to face gigs and stop screen sharing so much on line.
KEEP IN TOUCH
You shouldn’t stay in the friend zone too long, but it’s essential to get in there after first contact.
Once you are past initial networking and have a nascent relationship you can’t disappear from view. Scarcity works as a factor of influence only if you are embedded with your prospect.
Before then visibility is all. Lockdown provided challenges for keeping in touch, but not as many as some thought. Zoom is incredibly time efficient and intensely personal, so don’t discard the benefits accrued by our virtual hiatus and keep using the virtual world.
Work out a plan for keeping in touch and know your own preferences. Set goals and targets and measure what you do. If you are not good at that get help, it’s a team game.
Nothing beats a call, an email, 15 minutes on the Zoom or a half hour chat over coffee, but there are more strategic options. Regular newsletters, blogs and articles, edited recordings of presentations can keep you front of mind.
PROCEED UNTIL APPREHENDED
JFDI: just f***ing do it.
This means persist. Without being a pest. In professional services one of the biggest initial hurdles is getting over the reluctance to get out there, impactfully and often.
JFDI: You’ve done the research, you have the plan, now pick up the phone, send the email, go to the event.
If you don’t someone else will and may get the gig, even if they’re not as nice as you.
Give stuff away for free, but always be willing to say, “If I, then you”.
Reciprocity is a powerful factor of influence in business and life. In some sectors there is a well-established, often unwritten, give and take that is reciprocal.
In others the dance is more sophisticated so you have to reflect and check what you will offer or you may lose your shirt. First, know what you have that is valuable and you are willing to offer; second, you have to objectively assess whether it’s a good idea; third, you have to protect against those who would abuse your generosity.
Strictly speaking, reciprocity is giving things some things for free in the hope of getting a return. If you feel you are overly generous, have words “IF I, THEN YOU” on the front of your notebook. That turns reciprocity into negotiation and is especially useful when dealing with hard asses.
IT’S A TEAM GAME
Success has many parents; failure is an orphan.
Failure is guaranteed when making the rain. Fierce, unexpected, devastating failure that can take your breath away. That is the price you pay for all the success, because rainmaking is a numbers game and a team game.
Everyone in your business should be invested in making the rain. The successes will be all the sweeter with others to celebrate with and the failures are ameliorated when there are a few of you bouncing off the walls.
And… you know getting in a real room often is essential, right?
BE ORGANISED AND SYSTEMATIC
Someone has to do the data piece; it’s where the gold is.
Conscientiousness is a big marker for life success, but so are openness and extraversion, if we are talking about lateral thinking and creativity. The likelihood is your enterprise will benefit from having a range of different skills in the team.
That skillset will include all of the above and more, but having someone industrious and organised doing the spreadsheets that support the business development process is essential to your success.
One of the biggest wins you will get in rainmaking is imposing a simple, effective system that takes sales from first enquiry to invoice; by that I don’t mean the CRM system but something everyone uses.
ALWAYS BE CLOSING
Know what you are going to do next; never expect your prospect to call.
At the beginning of the KWC journey I asked a mate in corporate sales to give my co-founder and me a training session on closing. Over three hours, in front of a flipchart with a single diagram on it, he told us that you were never really closing the sale. Or more specifically there was not a single event that closed the deal. So you were never really closing.
Then at the end, he said that you were always closing.
It took a while to fully appreciate what he was saying: the sale is a process, not an event; it’s about time, timing and relationships; if you have forward momentum, you are always closing; you need to know where you are in the process and that’s different for everyone.
You don’t want to be stuck in the friend zone… right?
You can talk yourself out of anything. You can talk yourself into anything.
Many consultants- engineers, accountants, lawyers- spend much of their time calibrating risk and then acting on behalf of a client. This mitigates against risk-taking: we all want that bridge to be structurally sound.
Now we are back in the real room I see many posts saying we should go easy on ourselves, take our time and not put too much pressure on ourselves.
Fair enough. Or you could do the reverse.
Just as the more creative and risk averse took immediately to the apparent confines of Zoom, there are those who, right now, are cutting a swathe through convention as we enter the new world of hybrid working.
Every business has changed and some are utterly transformed. Productivity, doing more with less, will be a buzzword in the coming years. This will apply to business development too. Two years ago, if you had told me we would be doing virtual programmes all over the world with clients we have never met face to face, and hosting virtual conferences for 200 delegates, I would have thought you quite mad.
Go out there are get busy, set ambitious goals and take a few risks because you don’t get a single day back.