Are you running a business where you're also the primary rainmaker?
We get you!
We're in an industry with so many of these professional superheroes. They’re the people who bring in the income by putting deals together and attracting new clients. It may not always feel that way to you, but the work required for that unique position is taxing. You feel like you're pulled in different directions, and the demands on your time can feel impossible.
But make no mistake, for those of you in this role, "impossible" to you looks like a "superhero" from the outside.
It's common in insurance and employee benefits that a great salesperson wants to branch out and run their own shop, but it's a whole different game when it's ALL ON YOU to get it done. Plus, you have the responsibility to make sure everyone else on the team is engaged and showing up.
Every. Single. Day.
This happens a LOT in the industry. So much, in fact, that we wrote a book about it, teaching all the professionals in the organization how to participate in growing their business.
The industry that we serve
According to research by DCM Insights published in Harvard Business Review, highly skilled business development partners at professional services firms do things differently than the average salesperson. Insurance is typically not on the list of professional service firms, likely because it's considered more of a distribution by representing the carriers. But I am very comfortable arguing that the advisors we work with very much fall into this category.
Merriam-Webster defines professional service as "a service requiring specialized knowledge and skill usually of a mental or intellectual nature and usually requiring a license, certification, or registration."
So, there you go. Unless you're acting as a pure distributor, I will drop you all into this category, especially for this conversation.
You may recognize some of the partners at this firm; Matthew Dixon is one of two authors of The Challenger Sale. His firm has undertaken new research looking specifically at company partners responsible for selling. Here's how they set it up:
"At professional service firms, partners are responsible for doing [it all]. While most professional services firms have business-development support teams, the partners are "does-sellers" and own the entire business development and service-delivery life cycle. As "rainmakers," they must build awareness of their expertise in the market to generate demand, identify and close new client business, deliver the work, and then renew and expand the relationship over time."
Does this feel familiar? 😀
Like The Challenger Sale, the authors break selling styles into five distinct profile characteristics. While people may exhibit traits from multiple profiles, each person will have a dominant profile.
Deep topical expertise. Responds to client needs rather than seeking out or creating demand.
Highly responsive to client's needs, builds deep relationships, and can expand business through a proven track record with clients.
Innovative, opinionated, and loves debating with clients about what's best for their business. Expects clients to agree with their proposed plans.
Sets realistic expectations with the client, be it projects, budgets, fees, or schedules. Comfortable telling the client no.
Engages with clients and prospects through social platforms and events, emphasizes client education and trends, seeks new opportunities with clients, and introduces clients to their peers.
We have a winner! It's probably no surprise the Activator profile influences organizational sales the most.
How the Activator does it
They make themselves stand out among their peers, prospects, and clients. As I read through the list, I was pleased to see how closely the Activator profile matches what we teach agency owners and their salespeople through our Q4i Growth Platform. The agencies in our programs are already training to be Activators and have a leg up.
There are three key behaviors the Activator engages in regularly. There are many ways to spend your time, but optimizing your skills in these three areas will focus your efforts and make the required multitasking seem much less daunting. When you begin naturally moving through these activities, rather than thinking so hard about them, you'll find that rainmaking becomes a natural outcome of your daily actions.
Commit: If it's important, it will be on your calendar
Committing to business development is crucial. I left a comfortable job to start my first company, and when I gave notice, the CEO said, "Well, you've just taken on the ultimate sales role." As a business owner, the responsibility rests squarely on your shoulders, and every day is a good day for building relationships and selling. If you have others on your sales team, teaching them how to approach selling with a sense of urgency like you have is also part of your role.
Connect: Build your network in every direction
Get social every day. Make LinkedIn your favorite stopping point. Find new people, make connections, engage with them, and share ideas to help them in their roles or help them think about it differently.
When you attend events, create a follow-up plan to stay top of mind for the folks you meet. Introduce your colleagues, in-house or out, to help expand the footprint of influence you have with clients. Whether you offer other lines of insurance or other supporting services, introduce the people from your team who can step in and become a valuable resource.
Create: Share value with your network
Be so valuable to your clients that they first think to come to you when a new idea or question crops up. Share information on trends in the market, industry, or community. Know their business inside and out so you can provide advice, whether they are a client or a prospect. When you know a business this well, you can suggest new ideas and ways to work together.
Create an Activator culture
Everyone can become more of an Activator. As the name implies, it's about taking action. Whether you are a partner in your agency or the solo leader, you can take a team approach to adopting the key principles through training and standards.
With a set approach to selling, everyone can similarly engage the client, making a natural handoff and seamless experience for the client.
When technology is in place for everyone to use similarly, finding information for recommendations, decisions, or servicing the client becomes a more cohesive experience.
When you look for people to join your team, searching for those who have the same values and adhere to the same principles creates a dynamic experience for everyone on the team.
The authors open the article by discussing how much less loyal clients – even long-standing ones – are nowadays. Just because they're less loyal by nature doesn't mean it must be that way. If there is inherent value beyond the expectation, it's much harder to consider a move elsewhere. If you're talking to people who are feeling the itch to move, your strong Activator value becomes an undeniable force pulling them in.
Content provided by Q4intelligence
Photo by peopleimages12