In ancient times a man who could call upon the rain and turn the sun-scorched ground into a haven of water was considered a man of supreme abilities. This man was seen as a negotiator between man and God. Looked upon as a sage; full of wisdom and able to bring solutions to every foreseeable problem. This assumption was arrived at primarily because he could save lives when death seemed inevitable. In other words, if he could solve this conundrum that faced their livelihood, what could he not solve?
While the traditional definition has changed dramatically over time the principle of a rainmaker still survives in today’s organizations. Today he is the person who brings in revenues to the organization, be it a profit or a not-for profit organization.
For the purpose of this article let us widen this definition to encompass a person who is able to offer solutions that strengthen or advance the firm he works for in ways that directly or indirectly bring in revenues for the organization.
What make the dream of being a rainmaker accessible to a technology professional? What actions do we need to undertake in retrospect in order to advance in our careers as rainmakers?
Of primary importance is a well-known fact that you should cherish and empathize with your clients; your primary reason for being in the position you are in is to serve them. If you do not acknowledge, understand or appreciate them, then you will never be a rainmaker. You might masquerade as one for a while but eventually you will fail. Treat them the same way you would want to be treated; is it with decorum and respect? Display those qualities too. Find the issues that afflict them and face them head on, aiming to find a long lasting and definitive solution. Essentially, treat your clients like you would a best friend.
After you have done all the above, please note that your clients don’t care about you. In reality they don’t care if the applications you run are malfunctioning, or there was a power surge that roasted your servers yesterday, all they are concerned about is that their issues and problems are your main concern and that you are resolving them.
Therefore to save you the heartache, don’t give excuses, don’t expect anyone to understand the predicament you are in. Build structures to ensure you never have to give an excuse. If it is resiliency or redundancies you need to put in place, invest in them. In all aspects resolve to ensure that your function exists primarily to serve your clients. Remember this, rainmakers don’t have excuses; come earthquakes or floods they deliver. Your second name should be “Reliable”.
“Show your clients the money”. Without fail, show them what value they will accrue from a solution you aim to deploy in monetary terms. This value needs to be in a manner that is dear to them. For example “if the sales department spend $1000 in solution A, they will accrue a 10% increase in revenue generation”. Simply monetize their expectations. This approach forces you to dig deeper and understand better your client’s needs, so that you are able to relate a solution to a certain revenue benefit, or in the public sector an efficiency or efficacy benefit.
Another key principle is learning how to turn client objections to mutual objectives.
Clients have concerns and issues that need to be resolved, before they can make an investment decision. They may be concerned about pricing, affordability, delivery, reliability and so forth. The rainmaker needs to know that objections are simply ways in which clients express their desires. Your aim should be to turn an objection into a mutual objective. A price “too high” could possibly mean there is lack of understanding on the true value of the solution and more awareness needs to be created around how the solution ties in with the client needs.
Always plan in advance before you engage a client about a solution. Prepare adequately before engaging. Do your homework incisively making sure you know the ins and outs of the solution you have and the needs of your client.
Remember that asking the right questions and learning the art of listening is not a weakness, but an asset. Through this you will understand the heart of your client and their desires and come to an appreciation of their mindset. And like a doctor, you need to know, you can only give the right prescription based on a proper diagnosis.
In conclusion, remember to thank the client, sincerely and often.Without them, there is no you.
Article done for CIO East Africa November 2013