How to Become a Rainmaker — Or How to Get the Customers and Keep Them Coming Back
Jeffrey J. Fox wrote an excellent book, teaching effective selling techniques that will help new and experienced sales people improve their sales. From the beginning to the end, the focus remains on the customers and how to keep them happy.
If you haven’t read “How to Become a Rainmaker”, this is the time to do it. Even though the book was written in 2000 and the sales field has gone through many changes since then, it can still stand out as one of the best sales books. This is the kind of book that ages well. And it doesn’t only motivate you on how to become a rainmaker, but after reading it, chances are you will become self-motivated to perform better in your role and achieve more.
Here are some highlights from “How to become a Rainmaker” that remain with me:
1. Treat your customers as you’d like to be treated.
The era of placing the customers on a pedestal or spoiling them in an exaggerated manner is over now. But if you are a sales person, whenever you interact with your prospects, remember this: We are all customers! Every day. It is just a matter of context. Therefore, how would you like to be treated when you decide to buy a new car, when you call for a doctor appointment or for booking a hotel room via phone, or when you simply do the weekly shopping? Just be empathetic and treat your customers as you’d like to be treated. In the end, everybody wants to feel valued and respected. And this can translate into always returning the sales calls, answering your customer’s queries and respecting their time.
2. Search for customers in the right places.
Working hard will not simply guarantee you’ll reach your quota. It’s about working smart. And this implies time management and searching for customer in the right places. Don’t waste your precious time selling to the wrong person. Prospect wisely: a prospect below 50% probability of cutting the deal will never cut the deal. Move on. And when you do it, dare to fish the big fish!
3. Ask killer questions.
Sales people ask questions. But professional sales people ask killer questions. And these are the questions that guide the buyer in a productive direction. You want to help them understand where they are in the buying process. Two of the questions listed by Fox that I find relevant are:
- Is there anything else prohibiting you from going ahead?
- What question should I be asking that I’m not asking?
Also, talking about questions, a professional sales person will always have the answer to: “Why should this customer do business with us?” It’s common sense. If you can’t respond to it, there is no chance the customer will. Needless to say that the answer should reveal the benefit for the customer.
4. Preparing the sales calls.
Fox cannot stress enough the importance of preparation before any sales call. He actually comes out with a pre-call plan. And it is totally understandable. After all, it’s outrageous to call a customer before anticipating the buyer’s concerns and objections or without having some specific benefits for that customer.
5. Never trash the competition.
Speaking negatively about the competition is bad for you and the business. Just stick to presenting why you give more value than your competitor. Your company may not be the number one on the market , but may be more suitable for the customer. As Fox says, ask the customer if they would like to know your points of difference.
6. Do business at business meetings.
Always keep in mind the purpose or the priority when meeting a customer. Food should be the last concern, and the customer is the only focus. You are there to ask questions, listen and get a commitment. Also, as the author says, consider having breakfast meetings. They should be more efficient.
7. Always dollarize the benefits of your product.
“Show me the money!” I guess you recognize this popular line from Jerry Maguire movie. Well… it does applies to your customers, too. The job of a sales person is to make the buyer understand exactly how the product would help their business. Rainmakers sell money. They dollarize by pairing the customer’s ROI with their own product, highlighting the financial consequence of not choosing their product.
8. Rainmakers don’t have excuses and are always available.
This one is crystal clear. Do you want to be a rainmaker? Then forget about excuses and always reach your quota. Oh, and be there for your customers. Every single time. Whenever I used to call for a doctor appointment, I used to wait for around 5 minutes on the line until someone took my call. That’s why I changed my medical provider. Because customers want a person who can always be available in case they have a problem or emergency. The customer expect you to be his problem solver.
9. Pay attention to details.
You know what they say: it’s the details that make the difference. And Jeffrey Fox agrees on this, too. Sit with your back to the wall in order to prevent the customer form being distracted. Be the best-dressed person you will meet today in order to convey respect and confidence to the customer. Check the technical equipment before delivering a demo. Most of the time, a detailed-oriented sales person can be the equivalent of a professional sales person.
10. Keep track of your sales performance skills.
You need KPIs to keep track of your progress. Therefore, Fox offers an easy-to-use checklist called the “4 point daily plan.” And the goal of this simple plan is to get 4 points every day. Why should you wait for your manager’s evaluation, when you can have such a motivating self-assessment?
- 1 point — Getting a lead, a referral or an introduction to a decision maker
- 2 points — Getting an appointment to meet the decision maker
- 3 points — Meeting the decision maker face-to-face
- 4 points — Getting a commitment to a close or to an action that directly leads to a close
So, how many points have you got today?
From my point of view, the author also comes up with ideas that should be challenged nowadays. For instance, to schedule the sales calls for Friday afternoon when most people are more relaxed or very early in the morning when there are fewer interruptions. Also, other times Fox gets into redundant ideas, like: not to keep a pen in your shirt pocket, as it may leak, or not to drink coffee at a sales meeting, as you might spill it. Despite all these, I do encourage you to include “How to Become a Rainmaker” on your list, as it remains an excellent and really useful reading.
In the end, the main takeaway from this book is what Jeffrey Fox called the Rainmaker Credo. So if you’re a sales person, memorize it and repeat this before each customer meeting. And after you apply it, don’t forget to bring the umbrella with you. Because it will rain!
- Cherish customers at all times.
- Treat customers as you would treat your best friend.
- Listen to customers to decipher their needs.
- Give the customers what they need.
- Price your product to its dollarized value
- Show customers the dollarized value of what they will get
- Teach customers to want what they need.
- Make your product the way the customer wants it.
- Get your product to the customer when they want it.
- Give your customers a little extra, more than they expect.
- Remind customers of the dollarized value they received.
- Thank each customer sincerely and often.
- Help customers pay you, so they won’t be embarrassed and go elsewhere.
- Ask to do it again.