Rainmaker [reyn-mey-ker], noun : a person who brings in new business and wins new accounts almost by magic, since it is often not readily apparent how this new business activity is caused.
Why does this myth still exist?
I hear intelligent, experienced senior exces whimper about their inability to find and hire a Rainmaker; a business savant to relieve them of all sales worry. Really? They’d have as much luck finding a leprechaun as a Rainmaker.
And Rainmakers wouldn’t be a sustainable sales source if they did exist. They’d just drag a small coterie of customer-friends around with them from one sales-desperate firm to another – exploiting expense accounts along the way.
What self-respecting, viable business really wants those “here-today, gone-tomorrow” type customers, especially after the sunk costs of starting new accounts?
Even in Mad Men days, the Rainmaker was a myth, a fabrication (most likely by the individuals themselves) to put royal cloth around strong performance. But that’s all it was: strong, perhaps lucky, sales performance. Not magic; not epic; not guaranteed.
The Rainmaker is a Myth because….
“A sale, any sale, is an effect achieved from multiple contributory causes – it’s never the result of the salesperson alone, or any single cause.”
– Chris Arlen
Some sales reps may disagree and that’s understandable. They want solo credit for their sales because they get paid commissions; they want their bosses to see them delivering results so they keep their jobs; and they want their spouses to know they brought home the bacon. I did too when I was a sales rep.
Common Causes Contributing to a Sale
The truth is that no one person (sales rep) is wholly responsible for a sale. Nor for that matter is social media, or tradeshows, or telemarketing ever the single cause of a sale.
Many common causes contribute to the end effect of a sale; take a look at the graphic below (your model may differ).
These common causes can all influence and impact the sale, and it’s virtually impossible to quantify the importance of one relative to the others. They combine in a fluid and changing dance of outreach to customer touchpoints.
Consider the multiple causes influencing customer awareness, as sellers will do more than one.
Was it the seller’s LinkedIn group postings -or print ads in business journals -or trade show booths -or direct mailings -or educational seminars at conventions that gained a foothold in customers’ consciousness?
That brand awareness will exist with customers all throughout their relationships with sellers, regardless of what stage of the buying cycle they’re in.
For customers in the tactical stage of a sale, multiple causes will also influence and impact customers, such as proposals, presentations, and account retention.
Was it the sales rep’s charisma only that persuaded customers to select the seller – or the proposal strategy based on sales intel -or pricing strategy -or passing the presentation sniff test -or brand positioning from the web site?
Or was it “bad” word of mouth from existing customers that killed the sale because the seller’s account retention program was ineffective?
The Moral of the Story
The sales process is not reductive: you can’t distill it down to one thing, it has multiple common causes.
Sellers need to know how effective their causes are in contributing to sales. And because it’s never one cause alone, sellers must continuously improve all causes. Yeah, lot’s of work, I know.
Which means stop wasting time looking for Rainmakers – they don’t exist. And what might look like a Rainmaker will just be a strong sales rep, and will never be the sole solution to improving sales.
This article, “Debunking the Rainmaker Myth” was originally published in LinkedIn.