Jeffrey Fox on “What Rainmakers Do in Tough Economic Times”

Jeffrey Fox

Here is the featured article in an issue of Jeffrey Fox’s online newsletter. To check out all the resources he provides at his website and sign up for a free newsletter subscription, please click here.

In my opinion, no one knows more about how to create or increase demand for products and/or services (i.e. rainmaking) and also about how to expedite leads to closure (i.e. sales).  I highly recommend all of Fox’s books and, given the current “tough economic times,” especially these:

How to Become a Rainmaker (2000)
How to Become a Marketing Superstar (2003)
Secrets of Great Rainmakers (2006)
How to Become a Fierce Competitor (2010)

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Rainmakers are those salespeople who bring in the revenue; bring in the big clients; and keep the important, dissatisfied customer from leaving.  Rainmakers ring the cash register. In good times ordinary salespeople can look like a rainmaker.  In good times ordinary sales people float with the flow, as the rising river lifts all rafts.  It is in tough times that companies notice the true rainmaker.  In big companies about five percent of the sales force are true rainmakers.  In small companies, particularly companies with less than ten people, there is often only one rainmaker, usually the owner or lead partner.

In all companies, in tough times, ordinary sales people make 30% fewer sales calls than in they do in good times.  30% fewer calls!  Ordinary salespeople have lots of socially acceptable sounding excuses for not making calls: “the customer has no money;” “the customer’s budget has been cut;” ” the customer won’t see me.”  They sound okay, but are just excuses.  The fierce competitor companies, and the rainmakers, do just the opposite.  The rainmakers make 30% more sales calls in tough times than they do when the economy is booming.

Rainmakers also do the following:

1. They create their own good economy…by selling more, introducing new products, opening new markets, entering new niches.

2. They don’t sell features or benefits, products or services, patents or technology. They sell the dollarized value customers get from the products.  Rainmakers don’t sell a motor.  They sell the $20 a day the customer saves by investing in the energy efficient motor.  Dollarization is the most powerful selling strategy. Sell money.  If you sell money, you won’t have to ask for money.

3. They call on decision-makers, those customer people who can say “yes.” This means they make sales calls at high executive levels.  And because the rainmaker sells money, high-ranking execs will always meet them.

4. They pre-call plan in writing every sales call on a decision maker. Rainmakers never wing-it, regardless of their years of experience, or their long time relationship with the customer. Rainmakers always, always pre-call plan.

5. Rainmakers always ask the customer to commit to an action that leads to the sale. Ordinary sales people rarely, or never, ask for the order.  Ordinary sales people fear rejection, fear hearing “no,” so they don’t ask.  The rainmaker also fears rejection, but asks anyway, knowing that one customer ‘yes” trumps one-hundred “no’s.”

Rainmakers and fierce competitor companies go together.  If you don’t have a rainmaker go hire one.  If you have a rainmaker, hire another one.

Here are ten fast simple Rainmaker rules.  Yup. Real simple.  So simple that too many salespeople break the rules every day.

1. Never wear a pen in your shirt pocket. The possible inkblot, an in-the-customer’s face Rorschach Test, will kill the deal.

2. Never drink coffee on a sales call. You can’t ask questions with coffee in your mouth.  You can’t take notes with a coffee cup in your hand.  No embarrassing spills.  It’s a sales call, not a coffee break at Dunkin Donuts.

3. Set up breakfast sales calls. Inexpensive. No alcohol.  Customer gets something done on his or her way to work.

4. If you take a customer to lunch, take the best seat. It is impolite to let your customer waste her time looking at the marina, the other patrons.  The customer must be focused on answering the rainmaker’s questions.

5. And you are not at lunch to eat lunch. You are at lunch to ask questions, and to get the order.

6. Treat every sales call on your long-term customers as if it were the first sales call. Prepare.  No nonchalance.  No winging it.

7. Always ask for referrals. Use them.  People love to refer.  It validates their decision to have worked with you.

8. Send five notes a day to prospects and customers.

9. Heed the rainmaker motto:  if you don’t do business with me, we both lose.

10. And the rainmaker toast…

“Early to bed,
Early to rise,
Sell hard.
And dollarize.”

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