The Powerless Rainmaker: Why Is There Responsibility Without Authority?

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Chuck Meyst
Chuck Meyst



powerless-rainmakerRainmakers are those designated folks responsible for finding prospects and getting new business.

The problem is they often have no "authority" to command what they need to get the job done.

In agencies where someone does actually have the "title," the person might be charged with making 25 outreach calls each day, mailing 25 letters with great client suggestions, or searching the press for suspect activity. But if that same individual needs some paltry sum of money to purchase, subscribe to, or participate in something that isn't free, our rainmaker runs up against the ever-present lack of authority. He needs to submit a request to someone in finance who would prefer to charge it to a client account. (Note: Some rainmakers will actually advance funds of their own and hope to get reimbursed!)

Here are three areas where you need to consider your investment and how it affects your new business executive's ability to actually bring in new clients and projects:

New Business Budget

Is the rainmaker given a budget with the freedom to make a learned decision to spend it wisely? In many cases, the answer is "no." Let's revise that. If our rainmaker wants to visit a prospect to meet face-to-face for that all-important, but really ill-timed, interview, does he have a credit card to cover it? Often yes. For that trip, let's also bring along an accomplished account person, so our trip's expenses can reach into the thousands.

When they return home empty-handed and discouraged, generally it's the prospect's fault. “They weren't a great candidate to begin with." They chalk up those expenses to training and education, not the new business budget they don't have anyway.

Training and Ongoing Education

There's no actual budget for them, but when the opportunity does present itself, the rainmaker bats fairly well convincing management to pop for them. Off he goes for a day or two at $2,000 to $4,000. When he returns, he is given 15 minutes to explain to the boss what he learned during the training. And did the seminar producers "test" the students to see who actually learned what the agency paid for and report those scores to the agency? Seldom. Does agency management quiz those who attended for retention and future application? Seldom.

Formal Education

How many rainmakers have a bachelor's or master's degree from New Business University? Or from a two-year New Business College? Or a six-week, one-month, or week-long new business seminar? Everyone else at the agency has at least a bachelor's degree in some aligned agency topic. Begin to get the picture? Do you realize "rainmaking" is not a natural talent? This is why your firm's new business program will continue to be hit or miss.

Your solutions should be self-evident.

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