Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Rainmakers Do

In their new book «Rainmaking Conversations», Mike Schultz and John E. Doerr explain that rainmakers – sales superstars raking in considerably more sales than the average salesperson – follow 10 core principles. Taking these principles to heart is a prerequisite to the successful application of the Rainmaking Conversation Roadmap.

RAIN is the acronym to describe this roadmap. R (Rapport) is the starting point of the Rainmaking Conversation Roadmap.

This leads to the next discussion regarding the ‘A’ which stands for Aspiration and Affliction.  Many selling concepts focus only on problems (afflictions) that create an initial value gap, indicating that the prospect is not achieving the success that could be possible.  But according to the authors, buyers operate with two mindsets: “problem solving” and “future seeking”.  Sellers focusing on problems alone will thus miss all opportunities related to the “future seeking” buying mode.

Average sellers would likely be happy to close the value gap considering both buying modes.  Rainmakers however, then look for ‘I’ (Impact). Uncovering the rational and emotional impact of success and failure leads then to the true value gap.

Now the prospect is ready for the ‘N’ (New Reality) for which the rainmaker then crafts a solution to close the gap and gain the customer’s commitment.

‘A ‘and ‘I’, in the RAIN acronym, serve a double duty. They also stand for Advocacy and Inquiry. Sellers have been taught to talk less, to ask the right questions and to listen well (Inquiry). However, as a result of this, some sellers today ask too many questions. Rainmakers find a balance between Inquiry and Advocacy (giving advice) in their conversations to add more value for their prospects.

Finally ‘IN’ stands for the all important influence rainmakers can develop.

Before the authors explain those key rain selling concepts in detail, they outline a conversation that aspiring rainmakers should know well to clarify attitudes and motivation.  As attitude and motivation trump skill with regularity, this is an important discussion. Somewhat related to this conversation is the discussion about four types of conversation killers towards the end of the book. 

Another prerequisite for being able to hold successful rainmaking conversations is to understand value propositions, which are more than just polished value proposition statements.  The proposed structure of the value proposition is determined by three principal reasons that drive why people buy. Prospects have to want or need what the seller is offering.  A strong value proposition must resonate. Potential buyers then need to see how a particular offering stands out from possible alternatives. Value propositions therefore need to differentiate.  Potential buyers also have to believe that the seller can deliver on the promise. Value propositions must therefore have a substantiating component.  

After having established this base, the second part of the book contains detailed descriptions of the aforementioned rain selling key concepts.

The third part of the book describes how to maximize one’s rain selling success.
This part begins with chapters about prospecting by phone: creating rainmaking conversations, handling objections and closing opportunities, and opening relationships.  There are important nuances added to these common terms making them very applicable for today’s sales world. Old school sellers should thus not conclude from these chapter titles, that their old and tried concepts hold still true.

I also found two gems in this part. ‘FAINT’ a new concept to qualify opportunities which is much better suited for cases where latent needs are discovered. Such opportunities can be easily killed when qualified with the old and still often used ‘BANT’ concept. The first letter of the acronym stands for ‘budget’ which can hardly be expected to be in place for latent needs. ‘In ‘FAINT’ the first letter replaces the budget aspect with financial capacity.  This seems to me an important aspect for lead scoring concepts, a hot topic in Marketing Automation.

The short chapter on knowledge proficiency is very enlightening in the context of the discussion on Sales Enablement.

Overall, I find «Rainmaking Conversations» an excellent book on sales skills. However it must be read very carefully.  As an example: in one instance, I had to read the footnote to avoid a gross misunderstanding what was meant by an example given in the beginning of the book.

As you would expect for a skills-oriented book, there are many conversation examples which, as the authors warn, should not be used verbatim.

Simply reading the book will not make you a Rainmaker, though applying the ideas presented will increase your chances for success. To help to put these concepts in practice, links to online tools are made available in a large appendix on resources.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review Christian - I'm gonna go grab a copy. You should throw an affiliate link in the post so I can give you a little money :)

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