How to Become a Rainmaker of Sales
What does it mean to be a rainmaker in sales? What is a rainmaker to you? Is it the person who consistently has orders coming in from clients? Is it the person who knows how to play the long game, building up relationships with clients for future success? Or, could it be the leader of the team who brings out the best in the sales staff and motivates the team to achieve its goals? Why can’t it be all of the above and more? We certainly think it can be, but don’t just take it from us. We spoke with James O’Brien, president of GO2 Partners Inc., Des Plaines, Ill; and Paul Kiewiet, MAS+, industry consultant and executive director of the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association, Grand Rapids, Mich., to see what exactly a rainmaker is in the print and promotional industries, and how you can achieve that status.
The first trait that both Kiewiet and O’Brien agreed upon was persistence. A true rainmaker knows when to keep going, and understands that long-term success typically outweighs short-term victories. Sure, you can march up to the 30-yard-line and kick the field goal, or you could keep going to the end zone for six points. One is more work, but the payoff is more substantial.
“Rainmakers possess a quiet confidence combined with persistence, and a relentless pursuit of serving their customers,” Kiewiet said. “They have learned to think like their customers and identify ways to make life better for their clients by heroic problem solving. They go the extra mile to research and learn everything they can about their clients’ industry, competitors, advantages, challenges and target audiences. They also have identified who they want as their next client, and are taking the steps necessary to find ways to solve their problems.”
For O’Brien, the first step is acknowledging that instant gratification is almost nonexistent for some salespeople. That frustration and lack of patience could lead to feelings of defeat. But, that’s where it presents an opportunity for true rainmakers to show their stuff and keep the momentum going.
“A rainmaker has to be able to endure a great deal of rejections, both direct and indirect, [like] time delays and outright rejection,” he said. “So, most people give up long before the sale can be made. They don’t have that persistence to stick with it. Secondly, it’s self-discipline. This requires a person to do a lot of unpleasant things: get up in the morning, be energized and talk to people who, in all likelihood, will not say ‘yes.’ It takes a lot of self-discipline to engage in this long sales cycle with very little emotional positive feedback, with the expectation that some day this is going to be a home run.”
Build that Relationship
Your relationships in business are what set you apart from the rest. If you can build a friendly rapport with your clients, you become their go-to salesperson. But, you need to learn about more than just the people, you need to learn about their businesses, too. Know exactly what they want, when they want it and how they like to purchase, and between that and your personal knowledge of the people behind the company, you’re golden.
“The worst mistake salespeople make is to start selling,” Kiewiet said. “First, you need to know what the issues are facing the prospect. As I told a pharmaceutical prospect who wanted to know why I didn’t start putting ‘trinkets’ on his desk on my first call, ‘Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.’ In other words, you need to learn about a prospect before you can make recommendations to them. Nobody likes to be sold. But everyone loves to buy.”
Additionally, you should know your own goals with the purchase. Sometimes, especially if you’re newer to the sales game, a short-term goal can be what paves the way for the long-term goals we discussed before.
“The advice to the young person is ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’” O’Brien said. “Are you trying to get an order? Again, if someone is new to the business, that’s not a bad goal. You need to get orders. They need to make mistakes and have happy customers. And people further advanced in their career need to have a more strategic selling approach, and just getting an order is not sufficient. To reward that person, that person needs to build a relationship with a client that will be substantial and long-lasting.”
Set Your Goals
So, for whatever your goal is for your business, get a clear picture in your head of what it looks like, and start mapping out your route. The route might be winding and lengthy, but the hard work will pay dividends.
“My advice to anyone is to work the hardest on your vision,” Kiewiet said. “If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will get you there. Take the time to get a clear picture of what success looks like for you, and don’t put it in monetary terms. It needs to be about the life you create. Be patient, be persistent and be your best self.”