Organizations that depend on their staff to only fulfill orders are short-sighted. Whether those orders are for products or services is not the issue; how they are sold is what is critical. Let’s assume for the moment that products are sold through a variety of sales channels and that services are primarily sold face-to-face. It is not uncommon for the services organization to have an aversion to using the term “sales” because it seems transactional. So, in an all-out effort to avoid being “salesy,” cloaked in a mantra that one’s organization is only concerned with great customer service, services firms create a culture that is averse to engaging new prospects.
There are, however, exceptions to most every business “rule” or stereotype. Enter The Rainmaker. The Rainmaker is both the organization’s greatest asset and liability. Employees understand that the creation of need for their intellectual contributions is usually a feat reserved for The Rainmaker. With considerable aplomb, this individual networks with ease, establishes strong referral networks, is well-known and is most appreciated by those who have a fear of ever being asked to copy what she does.
When organizations rely on The Rainmaker—be that one or multiple—to generate enough work for everyone else to be paid competitive wages regardless of whether they ever successfully bring in a new account, they create a long-term liability. Like the temptation to live large off credit cards today in one’s personal life or to distribute earnings and share profits but not reinvest into a business, this practice of overreliance on The Rainmaker is precarious. Reckoning Day will arrive and most organizations realize that they have created a monstrous succession problem. Some are successful in delaying the inevitable by hiring a business development professional (read: salesman in any other context) who augments current revenue growth, but is not a viable replacement of the DNA of The Rainmaker, who is usually a 40 plus year old equity owner of the company.
Why is it that an executive who has strong technical skills is perceived as even more valuable when possessing business development skills? Is it because the firm administrator has calculated the number of employees that The Rainmaker can keep employed? While revenue generation and the ability to cover overhead expenses are important to success in business, this is not what sets The Rainmaker apart. Rainmakers are special because they inspire! The inspiration comes from fulfilled promises, a sense of hope and optimism and the ability to understand client needs.