It is often said that the best salespeople are stars because they can close great deals, are very active in the market and manage a great pipeline. Obviously, these types of attributes (and many others) are all key for an effective sales person but they are also mostly activities that are visible to others and are happening now or in the near past.
In my experience what really differentiates a great sales person from a good one is that great sales people take time on activities that impact the outcome of sales opportunities well before the sale is ever likely to close and may not be aimed at a specific sale. I call these ‘Rainmaking Activities’.
Let’s look at some examples of rainmaking activities.
- In some cases, rainmaking activity is aimed at nurturing your existing client base. This means not just talking to them when more business is on the table but being proactive and talking to them to build relations so that you will be in a stronger position whenever there is a new business opportunity.
- Other times rainmaking activity is aimed at meet and developing new contacts, either within your existing client base or somewhere else. Most of the time if you are an active and focused sales person, it is quite easy to get an introduction. You may have a list of contacts who may be perfect introducers for your business. In some cases, you may know them and you are nurturing the relationship, other times you want to meet them for the first time. They may not have any business for you today, but keeping top of mind will surely make your phone ring more in the future
- Maybe you want to introduce some new products to your existing clients even if you know that there may not be a need right now.
There are much more but what makes them rainmaking activities is that the salesperson invests time and effort now, in order to be better positioned to maximize their sales in the future.
Why This Is Important To Salespeople:
As you can see, there are a lot of activities here that don’t necessarily have an impact on revenue today and are not often taught during a Sales Training, but increasing these types of activity and having the sales motivation to invest effort in these areas will always deliver better results in the future. Customers will trust you more, your understanding of all future sales opportunities will be clearer and as a result, the accuracy of your sales pipeline will ensure increased sales over time.
Why Do Salespeople Often Overlook This Type of Activity?
In my experience, salespeople, in general, are not so good at this. Even if they have the right selling skills and techniques they will be less successful than the salesperson who is routinely carrying out rainmaking activity. So why aren’t all salespeople investing in these activities?
In my experience the two reasons mentioned below are the main culprits:
The first reason is that salespeople lack patience. Many salespeople are excited about the activity that will close deals today. They generally don’t look long term. However, this is a huge mistake as they will have a lot more excitement in the future with a healthier pipeline, better prospects and spending less time on Business Development (looking for opportunities) as great opportunities will be coming to them.
The second reason is lack of effective time management. To complete rainmaking activities effectively with their positive impact on success in sales, you will need to put time aside to make things happen. It is easy to go with the flow each day and complete only ‘reactive’ tasks which generally will not help you so much in the future
Organising Yourself to Make ‘Rainmaking Activity’ Part of Everyday Selling.
Let’s look at how complicated these proactive tasks are. In all the examples of rainmaking activity that I have mentioned above start with a phone call. In fact, I cannot think of many rainmaking activities that don’t start with a phone call. So, let’s look at making those calls.
It should be straightforward to simply make calls but it is not happening as much as it should do. Yes, people are busy and proactive calls may not be top of mind, but are they taking control of their day or does their day control them.
Many salespeople get in early and say they get much more done when nobody is about. If this is true (and I believe it is) then why can’t they create the same environment at other times in the day? Simply put, the reason being is that it is all about distractions.
So how can we avoid distractions? It’s easy, first let’s see what distracts us – Phone, Email and Colleagues. My next question often makes sales people gasp! Can we turn off our phone for half an hour, log out of our email and go and find somewhere quiet to make calls? Before you say no just digest this and think how you have other times in the day with no phone and no email. Why can’t you create this time specifically for the completion of Rainmaking tasks?
If you can put aside 3 x 30 minutes a week of proactive time to complete rainmaking activities, think what this will do for you in the future. I assure you that the results will outweigh the investment.
Here is a simple diagram to see how it all starts with a phone call.
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