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Business Development: for those who don't want to be a rainmaker

Part 1: Colour Profiling and Business Development

In a recent article, we suggested that erroneous perceptions of what business development is are holding women back. We received some comments to say that women can do business development and they have to if they want to progress. We agree. However, what they don’t need (and neither do some men for that matter) is to become a rainmaker. This is perhaps a controversial statement. It might force you to think about business development differently.

Here in the first of a three-part series, we set out how professionals can start to think about developing their own style of Business Development. Without being a rainmaker.

What’s a rainmaker?

A rainmaker is an often revered character in professional services firms. They are an individual who brings in work. Often they are extroverted. They are good at getting targets to talk, good at reeling them in. They are good at talking about fees and they are not afraid to introduce other parts of the business. Usually, they are well-liked. They are charismatic and good networkers.

Now, don’t get us wrong. There is a place for rainmakers in professional services firms. They are often successful and they get clients into a firm. At the end of the day, firms exist to make money and they need to generate a profit. However, what is wrong, is to think that being a rainmaker is the only way to do business development. The term itself suggests that it might be.

These individuals “make it rain”. What actually might be a more useful analogy is they are good at collecting the rain – and there are other containers available for the job.

How to do business development without being a rainmaker?

The short answer is authentically. Let’s explain why.

Being a rainmaker is perhaps without an official definition. However, many of us who have grown up in professional services firms, can bring one to mind. It is a style of winning work that is authentic for some. When we do colour profiling, they are the individuals who are high on red or yellow behaviours. However, those behaviours are not the preference for all of us. Indeed, for many professionals, they are the behaviours that come with the most work.

What is colour profiling?

Here at Client Talk, we work with a range of tools to help explore and uncover differences. These tools help increase self-awareness and with it enhance emotional intelligence. Whilst many psychometrics focus on personality, we prefer to work with tools that focus on behaviours, and one of those is C-Me. Behaviours can be situational and they can change. Behavioural change is where coaches thrive. C-Me is a psychometric that helps provide insights into individual communication and behavioural preferences.

To start to introduce you to the language and energy of each colour, see below a description of some of the body language that we might start to see from each of the colours. We have already indicated the colours that we commonly see show up in rainmakers (red and yellow). Do you agree?

Body Language colour wheel colour psychometric

What does C-Me tell us about business development?

The insight that comes from C-Me can be used as a way to think about ourselves differently, it can also be a way to think about others in our team, and our clients, differently. The realisation that we don’t all have the same preferences is powerful in the context of business development. Business Development is, in our view, what follows from marketing. It is how firms create relationships, it is how they build relationships and it is how they win work. Just as we are all different, the way we approach business development must be different.

We have different drivers when it comes to sales. Red energy tends to be attracted by tangible outcomes. Yellow energy tends to be associated with innovation and new opportunities. Blue will be drawn to efficiency savings and green energy will think about impact. Similarly, individuals will have different things that will 'block' sales (i.e. turn-offs). Different steps will be needed to secure a commitment too.

When this discussion is had within a team, it quickly becomes apparent that there isn’t one way to sell. There is also not one way to build a relationship – or to maintain it. It therefore follows that there isn't just one way to do business development.

At this juncture, many breathe a sigh of relief.

At this juncture, teams can think about how they can collectively draw on each other's strengths and preferences to work together to do business development. They realise that they cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach. They start to focus on the individuals that they are trying to reach with their business development efforts and they see that everyone has strengths and weaknesses (yes, even the rainmakers).

Comfort zones

Now, neither this nor our previous article, means that we are suggesting that professionals should stay in their comfort zones. Being authentic does not preclude pushing the boundaries and trying new things. As coaches, we often work with clients on behavioural experiments. Creating situations where individuals can move outside of their comfort zones, to try something new and expand 'the ways of being' that are open to them.

What C-Me provides, is a way for individuals to start to think about behaviours that they find more challenging and then to think about how they can more authentically adopt new behaviours. It isn’t about a wholescale change in personality. The latter is scary, unrealistic, and likely to make an individual resistant.

What makes it rain if not the rainmakers?

We have used the analogy of raincatcher rather than rainmaker in this article. Our previous article set forward some reasons why we might need to be wary when speaking of rainmakers. Business development is rarely done in isolation. Rainmakers will have the backing of a brand, and a team of people around them (both to deliver the work and also to win the work). It is this broader collective that "makes it rain".

If you want to find out more about the colour of your team and explore how it might help them flex their business development approach, get in touch. Curious but not ready to pick up the phone? You can download an example of a sales report below, to start to see the approach C-Me takes.

Sample Sales Report
Download PDF • 407KB


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