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Creating a Culture of Selling with Rainmakers: A Window into Sales Performance: Part Two

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Written by John Doerr
President, RAIN Group

In our last post about building a rainmaking sales culture, we discussed the three areas of organizationally-controlled influences you need to address in order to create the best sales environment in which your sales team can thrive and succeed:

Organizational Influences:

  1. Expectations and Feedback
  2. Tools and Resources
  3. Consequences and Incentives

In this post we will discuss how to make certain you have the best rainmakers and potential rainmakers working in that culture. We’ll look at the three factors that are a part of who is on your team, who can sell, and, just as importantly, who will sell. These 3 factors are:

  1. Skills and Knowledge
  2. Selection and Assignment
  3. Motives and Preferences



  1. Provide the Sales Skills and Knowledge

    Have you ever been on a sales meeting with a newbie running the show, while you just sit back along for the ride? How does the newbie seem? Are you confident in her abilities? Comfortable that she'll win the new client?


    And how does she fare running that first meeting? How are her sales skills? Does she talk the right amount? Ask the right questions? Follow the well-worn protocols of first-time business discussions? How's her body language…confident and relaxed?

    How do your coaching conversations go with some of your experienced sales people? Do you sense they diligently qualify the prospects each time or waste time chasing the wrong rabbits? How about when you ask what the next step is for someone they have in the pipeline? Do they hem and haw and tell you there is no next step?

    Do the people selling for you have knowledge of all the products and services you offer? Can they speak confidently and correctly when put in a pressure sales situations or do they leave money on the table each time because they do not know what they are selling?

    Provide your rainmakers with the needed sales skills and knowledge in order to find and win more opportunities. With the right sales skills, they can walk the buyer through the new business development process with savvy, ease, and confidence. With the right knowledge, they can lead masterful sales conversations, ask the right questions, and craft the right solution set for every customer or client.

    What happens without skills and knowledge? Anxiety... leading to missed opportunities, low sales effectiveness, and no real pipeline

    • Do I really have to pick up that phone and prospect? How do I start?
    • How do I gain commitment to a next step?
    • There's no way I know what to do or say to actually bring in a new client like you do.
    • What is it, exactly, I should be talking about?
    • Do we even provide that service?

    Unfortunately, many salespeople (and professional service providers who sell) won't admit any lack of confidence or lack of knowledge, and so they never deal with their anxieties and never move their careers forward.

  2. Select and Assign the Right People

    Have you ever seen someone fail in a business sales role, when almost anyone (but the hiring manager) could have predicted that this person was not the right fit for the job? Sometimes, there are different business development roles that people have to play: one person is the technical expert, one is the hunter, and one is the big-time closer. Whatever the case, you need the right people in the right sales roles.

    For example, you need someone to open up a new office. So you assign your best rainmaker (the person on your team who is successfully managing an incredible account base in his region) to open up this new office. Heck, he has been managing accounts worth $2 million. You will have a booming new region in weeks. But 18 months after sending him to the new location, growth isn’t happening. What went wrong? You took a great rainmaker account manager and sent them hunting, without seeing if they were well-suited for this new role. Make sure you are asking the right people to do those things in sales at which they have the best chance to succeed.

    What happens to your rainmaker without the right fit and assignment? Chronic Underachievement

    • How do they expect me to open up new accounts? I'm a relationship guy.
    • Twenty years in the business and now they expect me to make cold calls? I don't think so.
    • I'll get bored if I have to manage this client base. I like the thrill of the hunt.
    • I am not sure I can feel comfortable selling to CEO’s; I always talk to the managers.
  3. Examine their Sales Motivation

    Let's say you put in motion the other five activities mentioned here and in our earlier blog post. Expectations are clear. Resources are available. Compensation plans are set. The skills are in place. The right people are in the right jobs. All of this is great, and necessary, but you still need rainmakers with the fire in the belly.

    You need to find out if the people you have on board and the ones you hire have the focus and drive to be successful in business development. If they're not motivated to sell, to build a practice, or to get out there and hunt, there's little you can do to light the fire of desire and commitment.

    What happens without sales motivation and preferences? Mediocrity

    • 9 AM already...time to start working. 5 PM already...time to go home!
    • Look at all the money I can make! Too bad I don't care about money that much.
    • I have put in my years in this job; I am just not willing to spend the extra time to land those deals. I can get by with what I am doing.
    • They've trained me...they're paying me…they told me what to do. Unfortunately, I just don't want to. It's not for me.

    Sometimes you have to accept the fact you do not have the right people who will go out and make it rain. If you can grow your company and be successful without everyone selling at the top of their game, then fine. But if not, you are going to have some tough decisions ahead of you about how you are going to grow your revenues (with or without those who have no inclination to help).

So the next time someone asks you, "How are we going to put some life in our sales efforts?" use the list above to evaluate your current situation and the makeup of your team. It will give you a clear window into the sales performance you're looking for.

Topics: Sales Management Sales Performance Improvement