What makes successful rainmakers in professional services?

What makes successful rainmakers in professional services?


Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a rainmaker as “a person (as a partner in a law firm) who brings in new business; also :  a person whose influence can initiate progress or ensure success”

Rainmakers are an essential part of any professional services organisation. They are the ones that bring in the deals. They are the ones doing the selling.

So, what makes for successful rainmaking? Here are some key points:

1.     Successful rainmakers know that their clients as their most valuable asset. For most professionals the vast majority of their new business will be generated from existing or past clients and referral sources. However, this new business does not happen by chance. Successful rainmakers value their relationships with their clients and ensure they regularly pay attention to them, making them feel valued and keeping their clients up to date with key information, ideas and opportunities. Successful rainmakers also know that they must strike a balance between ‘new’ new business development and incremental new business development with existing clients.


2.      Successful rainmakers make business development a daily priority. There are opportunities to sell each day. Successful rainmakers recognise that to be successful at business development, they need to make it a priority and work at it on a consistent daily basis. Every client interaction can be a source of new opportunities and successful rainmakers are ever vigilant to opportunities. They are not selling all the time but they are ready to sell when the opportunity arises. They treat their business development activities with the same level of commitment that they bring to providing clients with sound professional advice.


3.     Successful rainmakers are self disciplined. Some people may spend the first 10 minutes of each day involved in a business development activity. Some may schedule business development on their calendars, just like client meetings or court appearances. The important thing is that there is a disciplined structure in place that keeps selling and business development a consistent, conscious priority, not something to be done when there is some ‘downtime’.


4.      Successful rainmakers make their competencies visible with a plan of targeted activities.They plan where they are going to focus their efforts and how they are going to make their competencies visible to people who need to know about them. With the answers they make a plan. Successful rainmakers look at leveraging ‘visibility management’ activities such being a keynote speaker at selected public/industry events, writing targeted articles/blogs regularly, attending targeted networking events, building a referral base, using social media or EDM (electronic direct marketing) to target key clients/prospects and so on. This way they get recognised for what they do well and in turn get rewarded with more sales and work.  


5.     Successful rainmakers focus on high-potential sales opportunities.Most professionals are busy. Remember they usually sell expensive time, so any time invested in business development is not directly fee generating. Under the best of circumstances, professionals have a limited amount of time to invest in selling and business development. As a result successful rainmakers focus their limited sales time on where they can get the biggest return on their investment: the prospects that are most likely to become clients or who can refer them to other potential clients.

In summary,these are just some of the key things successful rainmakers do to leverage sales opportunities. So, as you can see, simply running an advert that promotes your firm isn’t enough to leverage an increase in new business.

Additional new business will only come when you develop the confidence to make your competency visible to the people that need to know about you, get yourself out there talking to prospective clients, and position yourself to ask questions, listen, offer solutions that deliver real value, and ask for the business.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward-thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com.




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