Secrets of Top New Business Developers

By: Mark Satterfield

Rainmakers, top guns, power prospectors, business builders, call them what you will. If there is one challenge that consumes sales and marketing executives it’s, “How do I turn more of my team into this type of business development professional?” Rainmakers know how to keep the pipeline filled with new customers, which is the lifeblood of any organization. Recruiting experienced top guns from outside the company is enormously expensive and seldom works out in the long term. This raises a number of challenges. How can I create more rainmakers on my team? How can I become one? What exactly do the top rainmakers do that makes them so successful?

It is very apparent that first and foremost, marketing has to be a part of your daily routine if you sincerely want to become a rainmaker. It can’t be something you do only when the pipeline of new business dries up. While maintaining enthusiasm for new business development is not always easy, for top rainmakers it’s an activity that never stops.

Arthur Blackspure is a great example of this. At the age of 70 he’s still one of the top rainmakers for his company. He’s managed to successfully overcome an issue common with many older workers, building relationships with people considerably younger than himself. For example, most people in their 20s tend to forge relationships with others in their 20s, when they’re in their 30s, their strongest bonds are with others in their 30s, and so on. Obviously if you limit your relationships to people the same age as yourself, as you approach retirement all of your contacts are also likely to be retiring. This is fine if you want to retire, but a potential career killer if you don’t. Throughout his career Arthur made a concerted effort to develop relationships with younger people who were on the fast track at their companies. These relationships have enabled Arthur to be a top producer for over five decades.

What else made a difference between those who were successful at rainmaking and those that were not? Although it might sound obvious, one key differentiating factor is calling on the right person. Rainmakers have a remarkably accurate understanding about who has influence and who doesn’t. We need to know who the real decision-maker is, and not be fooled by the person who says they’re the decision-maker, when in fact they’re not.

Not surprisingly, rainmakers have considerable knowledge about their own products and services. While that’s important, it’s also pretty basic. What distinguished the rainmakers was the depth of knowledge they had about their client’s industry. They understood with great clarity what the issues were that keep their clients awake at night. They also were very well versed on what their clients’ competition was up to. I’ll discuss in more detail hhow rainmakers went about collecting this information and how they used this data to build successful relationships.

It is one thing to consider yourself as an expert, but quite another to be considered an expert by your prospects and customers. There’s an old but true saying that you aren’t an expert unless others know that you’re one. How does one become an expert? Rainmakers used speaking and writing as the two primary vehicles to build their reputations. While less successful sales people understood that writing articles and giving speeches would help them be perceived as an expert, they never got around to actually doing anything. Rainmakers did more than just talk a good game. They actually wrote articles and made presentations.

What about the methods used to meet those of influence? Not surprisingly the most common method was through networking. One would think that with as much that has been written about networking, that we would be a society of wonderful networkers. Unfortunately, we’re not. Very few people actually do a particularly good job of networking. There is a real methodology for successful networking that the top players understood and implemented.

Another important characteristic of our top business developers was that they never lost touch with someone who they felt could be helpful. Staying in contact requires both organization and creativity. This is particularly true if one’s product or service doesn’t change on a regular basis. It’s not that difficult for me to determine what to say the first time I call you. But what’s my excuse to call you the second time, or the time after that? How do I stay in frequent contact without becoming a pest?

The answer lies in a using a variety of creative excuses in order to stay in touch. These might include insights on a project, input on an article, recommending a top job candidate, passing along a piece of industry intelligence or offering some valuable insights on issues impacting your prospect’s business. If you put your mind to it, you can come up with a lot of excuses like these to stay in touch. For example, in the process of writing my many articles, I’ve been in contact with dozens of my clients and prospects to get their thoughts and ideas. Not only do these conversations give me valuable insights but they also serve as excuses to stay in contact.

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Mark Satterfield is the author of the Gentle Rain Marketing System: How to Generate a Consistent Flow of New Clients. Quickly & Easily. With No Cold Calling. Find out

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