“I Need To Hire A Rainmaker!”


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A client called me up stating, “I need to hire a rainmaker.”  He is the CEO of a mid sized company that’s struggling a little, and wanted my help in finding someone.

Since I’ve always struggled with the concept of a rainmaker, so I asked him what he meant.

He replied, “I need someone to make things happen!”  He went on to describe someone who could turn around the most difficult situations, walk into a prospect and in one or two meetings inspire the customer to whip out a PO.  I was tempted to ask if the candidate needed to pull rabbits out of hats or leap over buildings with single bounds.

He concluded by saying, “I need someone a lot like you!”  (Honestly, I’m not sure I was flattered by that characterization.)

I’ve heard talk of rainmakers in action.  There’s a stereotypical view of the rainmaker.  Usually, what’s described as someone of incredible authority and power of persuasion, that comes in at the end of a sales cycle, and in one meeting, seals the deal, then goes off to the next deal working his or her magic.  In my past lives, as a senior executive, I was often asked to come in to final presentations or executive calls to help the team.  Often, we walked out with orders (a few times, with our tails between our legs), but it was less what I did or my presence, but really the culmination of a lot of tough work and great strategy development and execution by the sales team.  Often, I think the only thing that may have made a difference was the title on my business card, not what I did or said.

So to be honest, I don’t believe in that concept of rainmakers, at least in complex B2B sales.

Selling, particularly complex B2B sales, is hard work, there are no short cuts, and one call closes are probably more due to luck than skill.  High performing sales people do the work.  It’s not showy or flashy, it’s lots of details, it’s having a strong plan in place and executing it over the entire buying/sales cycle.

  • It’s about creating and finding new opportunities in the account and territory, through high impact prospecting.
  • It’s getting the customer to think differently through collaboratively constructing insight.  This is done over a series of conversations, never just one.
  • It’s building value with the customer–everyone involved in the decision making process–in every interaction.
  • It’s about knowing the customer’s business and how they get things done, executing a strategy that leverages this.
  • It’s about building trust and credibility, and maintaining it over time–in short, building a relationship.
  • It’s about leveraging resources in the company and with partners to help facilitate the customer buying process.
  • It’s about building business justified solutions, helping the customer sell it up the food chain.
  • It’s about ensuring the customer is successful, each and every time.
  • It’s about having an impact and making a difference with each customer and with your colleagues.
  • It’s about consistency, over time with accounts, across accounts, across territories.

I could go on, and I know each of you can add many more.  In complex B2B sales, I don’t believe rainmakers exist.  There may be that executive or person that participated in a significant call, helping move the ball forward.  But what about all the work required to get the ball in position in the first place.  What about all the work that continues after that call.  That’s the real stuff of high performance B2B sales,  that’s where the high performers live, consistently executing, every day, with each customer and each deal.  It’s about making things happen, small and large, every day, week after week, month after month.

We don’t need rainmakers, we need rock solid, high performing sales professionals.  People who know there is no short cut, who revel in doing the work, and execute with precision.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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