Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Rainmaking is an Acquired Skill

No one is born with the professional skills that support a great rainmaker. It's true that some people seem to be more comfortable in selling situations, but the ability to create and close deals is not particular to the DNA of great rainmakers. Here are a few other simple truths that may help clarify your expectations around the task of making it rain.
  • 80/20 is Reality: Your firm may have percentages up or down from 80/20, but I am certain they are not far from that benchmark. 20% of your partners generate 80% of your business; 20% of your clients generate 80% of your billings; etc. There are exceptions, but very few. In creating programs and working with marketing and sales objectives; focus with reasonable expectations
  • Training Will Not Overcome a Poor Sales Aptitude: Some people seem to be more comfortable in sales situations, and others fall apart. The human condition, with regard to comfort levels, is the result of how people are raised, their values, the environment of their family of origin, and cultural training, etc. Some people get to adulthood with the exact opposite aptitude needed for business development success. The percentage of people in your firm with this opposite aptitude is probably around 20% (see previous point). Don't beat your head against this wall. Find other ways for this 20% to make their contribution.
  • Marketing Tools Will Not Hide Poor Salesmanship: Take a less than attractive man or woman, dress him/her in the finest clothing, and he/she will still be less than attractive (attraction of course is in the eye of the beholder, but I'm sure you get my point). Marketing tools (collateral, multimedia, presentations, etc.) are exactly the same way. No matter how good your stuff looks, the prospect still measures their choice by the person holding the stuff. Improvement in your winning percentages should start with people skills and sales training. Save the 'stuff' for last.
  • Trust Overcomes Everything: Build trust and all else falls in place. Nothing more needs to be said here.
  • Know Your People, Build Their Skills: Partners are individuals with all different strengths and weaknesses. If they're already great at some things, stop burning their billable hours by enforcing training programs they can't benefit from. Focus on what they need. If your uncertain about how to identify what individuals need, visit www.peoplebest.com.

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