Becoming a Rainmaker

Jul 26 06:59 2010 Scott Hunter Print This Article


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                                                          Becoming a Rainmaker

 

ISSUE:

 

Many people relate to marketing as some "bitter pill" that must be swallowed. This is unfortunate because with the present economic climate, i.e. the decreasing volume of work and the increasing competition, business development is critical and becoming at least a moderately good rainmaker is essential.

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

The most effective approach to improving marketing skills is one that results in a fundamental shift in a person's perception of himself, others and the whole marketing process. Marketing is not simply a "numbers game." A person in any field of endeavor can learn to view marketing as an opportunity to do something positive for  others, for their company and ultimately for themselves. In this article you will learn to:

 

1.   Alter your perception of yourself and your relationship to marketing.

2.   Develop a focus.

3.   Do significant market research.

4.   Develop a positive attitude towards sales and establish marketing as a no lose proposition.

5.   Articulate the value of the services you provide.

6.   Be empowered by a specific promise of your work.

7.   Develop a positive and powerful attitude about people.

 

DISCUSSION

 

                                    Perception is reality.

                                                            Unknown

 

Unfortunately, most people appear to find marketing somehow beneath them and resist getting involved.  Reinforcing the problem is the fact that too many people attempt to mobilize others to action by trying to coerce or force them to do things they don't like -- concompanying that marketing is some "bitter pill" that must be swallowed.

 

People must come to recognize that marketing is not simply a "numbers game" they have to grind through.  Energizing people means getting them to view marketing activities as opportunities to do something positive for others, for their company and ultimately for themselves, and once they distinguish this, their apprehension and resistance will naturally drop away.

 

A small, Irvine, California law firm provides a clear example.  Although a named partner in the firm and an outstanding attorney, Mike (not his real name) had never done any real marketing, and his book of business was almost nonexistent.  For him, marketing was mysterious and confrontational.

 

After several conversations with Mike to uncover the source of his apprehension and for him to rediscover his vision and his commitment to the practice of law, he began to recognize that marketing provided an opportunity to make his particularly unique area of expertise available to people in the business community.  Marketing not only befitted him and the company but society at large. With a new-found excitement, he got to work giving speeches, writing articles and even cold calling.  Within a year he had individually developed a book of business of almost $1 million.

 

Why is shifting ones perception like this so important?  First, given the critical and often negative environments in which we were all raised, many people unconsciously hold themselves as fundamentally deficient in some way.  As a result of this sense of inadequacy, work itself, indeed much of life, becomes part of an ongoing strategy to prove one's self worth, to become successful, to "make it."  Every step into the unknown risks failure which would supply evidence to support these unconscious fears, and for most people marketing is a big unknown.

 

Second, all of us perceive a different world based on our own unique experience and upbringing, and our actions are always perfectly correlated to the world we perceive.  What appears as an innocent networking meeting to one person might appear as an occasion for rejection to another.  Clearly, the two would approach the same event quite differently.

 

The most effective approach to improving marketing skills is one that results in a fundamental shift in a person's perceptions.  What's the use of learning telephone or media techniques if a person is afraid of rejection or failure.  You can't teach a child to play the piano if he's afraid of the piano.  So, the first step for a person committed to becoming a rainmaker is to change his existing perceptions about marketing. We proceed as follows:

 

Design a marketing project

 

Design a marketing project for the entire year.  It's difficult to learn to punt, pass or kick if you have no intention of playing football. Also, if you're going to produce results, it's important that you know the results you want to produce. 

 

The results of the project should be a breakthrough for you individually and should be both specific and measurable.  For example, one attorney's project involved bringing one or more new pieces of significant commercial litigation into the company during the year. The project specified only cases with the potential for collecting $100,000 in legal fees that were a direct result of the attorney's marketing efforts.

 

Another project was to develop three to four new family owned business clients which would, in the aggregate, generate $50,000 or more of revenue per year.  Still another was to have cash collections attributable to business brought in by the attorney in excess of $400,000 for the year.

 

By beginning with the specific results of a project, a person begins to experience having something at stake for the duration of this project, strengthening his commitment to participate fully.  In addition, the projects provide the basis for the discussions of marketing apprehension and personal vision, the real keys to shifting perception.

 

Altering our perception of ourselves

 

People must begin to understand the fundamental basis of the difficulty they have with business development. In other words, given that before being people we are in reality people, human beings, we want first to look at what modern psychologists and others have discovered about our nature as human beings.  That is, we have been studied for quite a long time now and it's no longer as much of a mystery as it used to be as to our nature, how come we are the way we are, how come we have turned out the way we have turned out. 

 

From the moment that we're born, events start to occur.  While those events are neutral, the nature of us as people is that we start making decisions about them.  That is, we give the events of life meaning, we interpret them and then use those interpretations to make decisions. It's impossible not to make a large number of decisions about ourselves, other people and life in general as result of the experiences that we have when we're very young.

 

Unfortunately, we grow up in a highly negative world in which we are criticized far more frequently than we are acknowledged. In fact, we are mostly brought up with criticism, punishment, abuse and disrespect. What decisions do you think you and I make as a result of all of this criticism that we get? Something's wrong with me. You and I are criticized so much that we conclude that there's something wrong with us, that we're just not okay, that we're incompetent, that we're just not capable.  To be a human being is to think that there is something wrong with us, that we're defective in some way, that we're just not an okay human being.

 

Given this decision, which virtually all of us make, what we do is adapt, and we do it in a variety of ways. One of the ways that we adapt is to set out in life to be successful, to "make it", in order to prove to ourselves and to the world that we really are okay.  Life becomes an ongoing struggle and attempt to make it.  One of the fundamental problems in the business world is that it consists of so many people who are struggling to make it, all of the time having their attention on themselves because of this concern that they're not good enough.  Can you see that a person like that would certainly not want to put themselves in any circumstance where they can be in any way invalidated? Can you see that under those circumstances, picking up the phone shows up as risky business?  Can you see that going to a networking event looks like an opportunity to be rejected? Why would we want to put ourselves in a situation where someone else can reject us, when we already suspect that we're not okay?

 

Here's what's being missed.  There are lots of ways to be human.  The way people are is just one of them; it's not good nor bad, not right nor wrong.  But, it's all about survival and there is a cost.  The cost is that you feel like a rat on a treadmill.  The more you accomplish, the harder you have to work to accomplish even more and, as in the Peggy Lee song, you're left with "Is that all there is?".  This is why there is never any satisfaction really.

 

Put a sign on your desk that says "Just for today I trust that I'm good enough."  Look at that sign every day and one day at a time work on just trusting that you're good enough until you convince yourself that you are.  We as people must take a stand for ourselves.  Just because of what people told us when we were children doesn't mean that we have to spend the rest of our lives living out of a conversation that we're not good enough.  The fact of the matter is that we're all bright, intelligent, capable people, and we're definitely good enough.  But, it's a very big step to go from thinking that we're not good enough to thinking that we are good enough.  You can't do it in one step.  You have to do it a little bit at a time, one day at a time.  That's why I recommend that you put this sign on your desk and work on this just one day at a time.

 

What is your vision for your business future?

 

You want to inquire into why you are doing what you are doing.  My contention is that if a person uses his work as an opportunity to "make it", as an opportunity to prove his worth and value, I guarantee you that he won't be very successful, he won't be very satisfied, and he won't ever be very effective as a rainmaker.  So, given the last conversation, you'll want to see whether or not what you are working at can be an opportunity to be of service, to contribute and to make a difference.  If yes, specifically how? What is your vision for your work?  It's very important that you grapple with this issue and come up with something which is significant and inspiring to you.

 

It's been my experience that no matter how cynical and resigned they are, the vast majority of people can, when given the opportunity, refocus their work so as to have it be an opportunity to be of service, contribute, and make a difference.  Once you have done this, like Mike, you will have a whole new view of business development and make the rest of your work quite simple.

 

If you cannot make the shift, if you're convinced that your present work is a dirty business and that it really does not provide an opportunity to be of service, contribute anything worthwhile, or make a difference with anything, you should find something else to do with your life.  Life is too short to spend it suffering.  If you can't be excited about being a person and the difference you could make, find something else to  do with your degree or don't use your degree at all. 

 

Developing a focus

 

The importance of a clear and defined focus is well-known by marketing professionals.  What allows someone to become an expert marksman is the presence of a clearly defined bull's-eye.  Can you imagine trying to become a marksman with the bull's-eye enveloped in a fog?  Far more people than you would imagine are unclear as to what they are selling and to whom they want to sell it. To be a successful rainmaker you must clarify your focus.

 

Start by asking the following questions of yourself. Take as much time as you need to write out your answers:

 

What's happening now? 

 

1.   What is your field of expertise?

2.   What are you already doing successfully?

3.   What are your strengths?

4.   What do you have a commitment to work on?

5.   What are you passionate about working on?

6.   What is the future you are presently building?

 

What's possible?

 

1.   What is the specific market place to which you wish to offer this service?

2.   What is your market?

3.   To whom are you selling?

4.   What is your targeted industry or field?

5.   Which segment of that industry or field forms your market?

 

In answering these questions, look to see what's possible. Normally, people don't think possibility.  That is, people look to the past and use it to predict the future.  But if you do that, you'll consistently have a future that looks just like the past.  The truth of the matter is that anything is possible and you want to speculate a little.  Just because you've always done one thing, that doesn't mean you have to continue to do that. You may have a commitment to work on something totally new. You may have a hidden desire to branch off into a whole new field.  It's important to give yourself permission to speculate, to explore, to be bold. Walt Disney would have never built Disneyland if he was limited to what had been done previously.

 

Doing research into your market

 

Once you have clarified your focus as a person, the next step is to begin to do some research into your market.  Another reason why people have such a difficult time marketing is that it is somewhat mysterious to them.  They don't know what they're doing, they don't know who to talk to, they don't know what resources are available to them, etc., etc. If you do some research, you take out the mystery, and you will have gone a long way to getting into action. Here are a second set of questions to ask yourself:

 

Initial investigation of a potential market

 

1.     What are some of the markets you are committed to exploring?

2.     What resources are available to you which can give you specific information on the markets you are interested in?

3.     What trade publications and other materials would give you access to  your marketplace?

4.     What products or services are currently being sold in your market?

 

Detailed research into a selected market.

 

5.     What are your target companies within this market?

6.     What are the problems within this market which you can resolve? 

7.     How does your marketplace talk about those problems? (what would they say the problems are?)

8.     What specific benefits do you provide which address those problems?

9.     Who, in the target company, is accountable for handling the problems which you can resolve?

10.   Who has that immediate concern?

 

At this point, you should be beginning to be open to the possibility of actively participating in marketing your practice. If not, you may have one or more of the following additional "hangups".

 

What is your attitude about "sales"?

 

The first has to do with people's attitude about what sales is. Are you thrilled about the prospect of spending a couple of hours each day cold calling? If not, what image comes up for you when you think of a sales person? List everything you can think of. You will be fascinated to discover that the conversation that you and I live inside of is that sales people are viewed like the typical image of a used-car salesman, they can't get a better job, they're not very bright, they're not very well educated, they're slick, manipulative, condescending, etc., etc., etc.

 

What additional conversations do you think people have about promoting themselves? People view promoting themselves as unprofessional, if you need to be out "hustling" you must not be very good or you must not be very busy, it's undignified, etc. With all of that in the background, can you see what that would allow for? Actions like avoidance of business development at all cost, avoidance of rejection, avoidance of being labeled a salesperson, lots of pain and suffering when the need to promote comes up, and not much aliveness. 

 

Can you see why most people don't want to get into selling? You and I live in that culture.  We're embarrassed to do anything that looks like selling.  Yet, that is not all that is available.  For many people, sales is fun and joyful. What would have to be present for sales to be fun and joyful is a commitment to service, a commitment to integrity, truthfulness, open and honest communication, giving up an attachment to produce results, clarity about the value of your work, etc. When people are about serving others, sales is really a joy. If people believe in what they're offering, if people have a commitment to serve, if people do not wear their identity on their sleeves and take everything personally, sales and business promotion truly becomes an opportunity to contribute to people and make a difference.  I have found that when people see this, all of the reasons we have identified as to why they do not want to be associated with sales disappear rather quickly.

 

Marketing as something you can never lose at

 

Furthermore, from my perspective, marketing is something you can never lose at. In the arena of winning and losing, people's typical attitude when they go out to sell something is that I'm going to win or I'm going to lose. But is this really the truth?. What is it that you could lose? In other words, what is it that you already have that you could possibly lose? What I love about sales is that when I start, I have nothing.  If I'm going to pick up the phone and make a cold call to a prospective client, I'm very clear from the get-go that I don't have a client.  So, there's nothing to lose.  All I see in front of me is the opportunity to create something out of nothing.  And, I turn it into a game.  When I go to talk to someone about doing business with me and they say "I'm not interested", my reaction is:  too bad for them.  They just lost the opportunity to get what I have to offer.  On the other hand, when I speak to someone who is interested, I have literally turned nothing into something.  Business development is truly something you can never lose at.

 

Being in the business of selling products or services

 

Here's the last hurdle.  Ask yourself:  what business am I in? Likely your answer will be some form of "engineer, architect, doctor, etc." Is that the truth? I say you're in whatever business you say you're in. What is the effect of saying that you're in the business of delivering products or services? The effect is that your focus is on delivering products or services and business development shows up as an annoyance and an interruption. 

 

Is that the way you want it to be? Probably not.  So, given that it's just a saying so, what business would it be useful to say that you're in? What about the business of selling products or services? What happens when you say you're in the business of selling products or services is that your focus is on selling, but delivering on what you have sold does not go out the window. Really effective sales people are selling all of the time.  Really effective sales people are always looking to see what else the customer needs.  If your focus is on selling, you'll always be looking for opportunities, but out of your commitment to serve your customer, you'll still make sure that the work gets delivered.  But if you're overwhelmed with work, that will be a problem because your focus is on selling.  So it really doesn't cost you anything to say that you're in the business of selling products or services and, in fact, it costs you a lot if you say you're in the business of delivering products or services.  It's all a matter of focus, but the focus is very important. 

 

The greatest potential source of new business are your existing customers.  You have to always look to see what's going on with your customers.  You have to talk to them regularly about what their needs are.  You have to look to see what value you can create for your customers over and above what you're already doing for them.  It's only when you focus on selling and developing your practice that you will do this.

 

After all is said and done, after all of the articles are written, seminars presented, speeches given, functions attended, where most business development takes place is in one-on-one conversations between a person and a prospective customer.  But, very few people take the time to think about, in advance, what they want to say in these meetings.  If you meet a person and ask them what they do, almost the predictable answer is "I'm an engineer" or the like. That answer is not designed to convince anyone to take any kind of action, and it certainly will not, in and of itself, convince anyone to do business with you.

 

Articulating the value of your service

 

What enrolls people in working with someone is their ability to communicate the value, opportunity, benefits and results of their service so it's clear to them. What is the value to a customer of your products or services? Take time to write down your answers.  It's important to come up with something impressive. People do not think in terms of the value, opportunity, benefits and results. 

 

Taking myself for example, I do not say that what I am is a consultant or coach.  If someone asks me what I do, I say "I get people working together on behalf of a future that they can all be committed to and satisfied with (instead of fighting with each other over how big a piece they will get of a limited pie)."  When I make such a statement, people are almost always interested and want to find out more.  This is the result that you want to produce with your answer. Stay with this until you are able to clearly communicate the value of the products or services you provide.

 

Knowing the promise of your work

 

There is another side to this coin.  If a person is going to be effective in communicating with a prospective customer, not only must he be able to clearly articulate the value of his products or services, but he also must know what he is promising to deliver as a result of his work.  Whether you speak the promise or not, knowing that you promise something makes an enormous difference in your effectiveness.

 

So, for example, my promise, sometimes stated and sometimes not, is that "Whatever you invest in time, money and energy, you will experience as being well worth it."  I am committed to that and I am willing to make that promise.  Knowing that empowers me in every conversation.

 

Your attitude about people in general

 

By far one of the most important issues to be explored in becoming a rainmaker and the one almost always ignored, is a person's attitude about people in general.  While this might sound like a strange thing to say, if you could climb into the head of most people and listen in on their private conversation about people, you would begin to understand why some people have an easy time making friends and getting into relationship with others, whereas other people have such a difficult time at it.  Listening in on these private conversations, you would discover that most people are very judgmental of people and also quite critical.  After all, we are brought up in a society in which when we are young, we are mostly criticized, found fault with, put down and punished.  If you watch a group of children play, you can see how cruel they often can be.  So we learn very early in life, through the process of being judged and criticized, to be judgmental and critical.  Unfortunately, we take this training into our adult lives.

 

Take a moment and write down the words you find yourself using to describe people. While you will undoubtedly hear some positive things, you will almost certainly hear yourself saying that people are: a pain, difficult, jerks, aggressive, annoying, frustrating, etc.

 

Most of the terms are quite disempowering. Next look to see if you are satisfied or dissatisfied with your relationship with people? There is a direct correlation between those who have a difficult time rainmaking and those who describe their relationships with people, in general, to be unsatisfying. Is it possible that your dissatisfaction with people has something to do with your internal conversation (your attitude) about them?  This is sometimes challenging to see, but there is an enormous amount of evidence that the way people are around you is much more a function of your attitude about them than any particular way that they are.  It's an established phenomenon that around some people, people are great whereas when they get around other people, they really do act like jerks.  If you think people are wonderful, they will be that way around you.  If you think people are jerks, you'll get to be right about that, too. So you have a lot to say about the quality of your relationships with people.  And, it is probably the single defining characteristic of rainmakers that they're able to create quality relationships with others.

 

The really good news is that you are not "stuck" with your existing internal conversation about people.  You are absolutely free to literally "invent" a new conversation.  You can even invent being satisfied.  I'm convinced that satisfaction is a function of your internal conversation, not of the circumstances. 

 

So, your relationship with people is critical to your effectiveness as a rainmaker and a function of your attitude. Given this, what conversation could you make up about people to empower you in your relationship with them? In other words, if you're not "stuck" with your attitude, why not generate an attitude that will have your relationship with people be empowering and fun. What about statements like:  people are great, committed, interesting, fun, okay just the way they are, exciting, etc.  You want to have fun with this conversation and  come up with the most empowering terms you can think of. Is this really true about people? Obviously, no. But, neither is all the negative stuff that you've made up about people.  It's all made up.  So, why not make up good stuff about people, you can have a lot more fun and can be a lot more satisfied.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

If you have faithfully followed the instructions in this article, you have altered your perception of yourself, and your relationship to marketing, you have developed a focus and done significant market research, you have developed a positive attitude towards sales and established marketing as a no lose proposition, you are now able to articulate the value of the services you provide and are empowered by a specific promise of your work, and you have now developed a positive and powerful attitude about people.  All that is now necessary is for you to get to work doing one or more of the many things that you know work to generate business, such as speaking, writing articles, delivering seminars, getting involved in the community, etc.  This is what you've always wanted to do. Now, you should not only be open but eager.  Good luck!

 

 

Copyright 1995 Scott Hunter

 

 

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About Article Author

Scott Hunter
Scott Hunter

Scott Hunter is a professional speaker, workshop leader, consultant and business coach. His work involves transforming the thinking of management to a paradigm of faith, trust, possibility and abundance to increase productivity, creativity, teamwork and profitability. He is the author of the ground-breaking book, Unshackled Leadership. He can be reached at scott@thpalliance.com or visit his web site at www.unshackledleadership.com.
 
Scott Hunter works with CEO’s and senior management teams to create breakthrough outcomes and extraordinary performance by transforming the paradigm within which companies operate. He has created a 15-step program – called Unshackled Leadership - that causes people at the top to shift their perspective on the role of the leader and to redefine the culture of the organization so that everyone on the team is operating from a common understanding and a defined platform built on faith, trust, possibility and abundance.

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