What is a Rainmaker – and why is this ability important in Professional Services?

Have you come across people who have an uncanny ability to win new clients? I certainly have.

The term Rainmaker has its roots with native Americans who ‘did a dance’ to encourage the rains to fall to water the crops.
I suspect they were good meteorlogists and early weather forecasters, so they knew when to ‘dance’, and when not to – saying the ‘Gods’ were in a bad mood or whatever, or that ‘sacrifices’ were needed.

Anyway, the phrase is now applied to senior people in Professional Services – especially in America – who bring in new clients.

They may be Partners, or even the Managing Partner. People with seniority, an excellent reputation, who are trusted. They are also fee earners, more than likely leading and managing a team or a department.

And I’d say successful partners, and independent professional services specialists or business owners, also should have Rainmaker capabilities.

The main reason WHY they should is that clients have far more choices these days, and an appropriate pro-active approach needs to be taken to win new clients.

Within a Professional Services firm the Rainmaker capabilities are nor confined to those who are full-time sales professionals, or practice development people within their firms.

Having said that, some senior sales people, those selling complex business solutions and partnerships, I would also consider to be Rainmakers, possessing a Rainmaker mindset and naturally using many Rainmaker strategies.

Foundation Capabilities for a Rainmaker

I identify the following as the essential starting point:

– very knowledgeable in their area of expertise
– excellent reputation locally, regionally and possibly nationally
– delivering excellent client service
– achieving above average fee rates and utilisation
– commercially aware

Additional Rainmaker capabilities

Being familiar with and able to apply to varying degrees:

– commercial negotiation – expectation setting, delivery etc
– clear about what is in-scope and what is beyond scope
– ability to convey their value and the value of their team to their clients
– ability to identify additional value opportunities with clients to GROW the ‘accounts’
– ability to Attract interest and enquiries for their area of expertise
– inclination to invite potential clients to meet for exploratory meetings
– extensive network of contacts and networking activity to encourage referrals and introductions.

On a scale of 1-10 how important do you rate these abilities, and how good do you rate your capabilities and activity in each of these areas?

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