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Business Development for Non-Rainmakers

Part 2: Emotional Intelligence


In the second part of this three-part series on “how to do business development for those who don’t want to be a rainmaker” we are going to focus on EQ. What is it really and what does it have to do with BD? Read on to find out!


What is Emotional Intelligence?


For many of us, when we speak about emotional intelligence, we think about it in the context of the framework set out by Daniel Goleman. It is a framework we have set out before. It starts with the self and self-awareness. It is only by understanding ourselves that we are able to self-manage. It is also with self-awareness that we can build awareness of others. This in turn leads to enhanced relationship management. In short, Goleman describes EQ as “understanding and managing your own emotions and influencing the emotions of others”.


What is business development if not relationship management?


Maybe at this juncture, you are still not convinced that EQ and BD are related. Let us put forward another model to build on our thinking and show you the strength of this link.


When we speak to firms about what they would like to achieve in the context of business development we hear


“We want to be a trusted advisor”. Some expand on this “We want our clients to come to us with all of their needs, we want to bypass procurement and we want to win more work”.

If you were to ask these same people what rainmakers do, that is probably close to what they would come up with. Rainmakers achieve success in this space.


So, what is a trusted advisor? All firms want to be one and many use these words, or similar, in their marketing literature. A quick internet search reveals things such as “the firm has a seat at the client’s table”, or “they work collaboratively” or “they are strategic partners”. Other definitions point at there being genuine emotion and say that being a trusted advisor is having a deep relationship with your clients.


The trust equation is also something we have written about before. It comes from a book called The Trusted Advisor and it has stood the test of time. The elements of the equation are hard to achieve, particularly intimacy. However, it is intimacy, combined with self-orientation, that really moves an advisor to that trusted status. And it is EQ that will get advisors there.


So, now I have to be a rainmaker, and think about EQ?


Not quite. We have already established in part 1 of this series that rainmakers are possibly better renamed rain catchers. Yes, their approach works for some, but it is not the only way to be, nor the only way to build relationships. Rainmakers are revered because they bring work in. However, when we speak to clients and ask them what they look for in an advisor, what we hear time and time again, whatever the sector, is that they want to have an advisor they can trust.


Clients want advisors who understand them and who they are comfortable with. They want someone they can get on with.

The charismatic rainmaker is often someone who draws people in. However, other clients will be drawn in by the good listener, or the person who is a stickler for details. In other words, there is more than one way to achieve the aim. Perhaps what the rainmaker has, which others don’t, is confidence.


How can professionals become a non-rainmaker and win work with EQ?


Part of the problem with speaking about EQ and trust is that these concepts can seem very vague and hard to operationalise. In other words, it can be hard to see how one might move from the abstract to the actionable.


We are going to pick up where we left off a few paragraphs above. Confidence. We write often about confidence. Confidence is faith in our ability to do whatever it is that we are speaking of. In this context business development. This is at the heart of doing BD as a non-rainmaker. It is about reframing what the skills are to win work. Rather than being confident “being a rainmaker” – which might be alien to who we are – we need to start being confident “being a relationship builder”.


It is at this point that we can start to move from abstract to action.

  • What does being a relationship builder mean to me?

  • What are my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to building relationships?

  • How can I strengthen the relationships that I have with clients?

  • How can I start to create new relationships?

These questions are questions that all professionals should consider and all professionals will (and should) have different answers. It is at this juncture that coaching and training can help boost confidence, leverage EQ, and convert professionals into trusted advisors. To find out how, get in touch.



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