Rainmaker, Rainmaker: When It Is All About You!

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

Come rain or come shine, your business always manages to make its sales numbers. But let's be honest: is it your business making the sales, or is it you?

Whether you run a manufacturing, contracting, distribution, or service business, closing big deals and signing new customers is the lifeblood of your company. Chances are it's often the centerpiece of your life. As you see your company's overhead grow, you become even more of a sales-driven animal. The bigger your firm gets, the more you must kill so it can eat, and who else can feed your beast?

When you're young and hungry this isn't a problem, but at some point, you'd like to cash in and buy a beach house—or at least take a vacation! How can you tell if your company is still dependent on your ability to sell? Despite many years, dollars, and detours:

  • Your best customers won't buy from anyone else in your company.
  • Successions of expensive and experienced sales pros have failed to deliver big numbers, pay for themselves, or remain loyal after they succeed.
  • Your inside rookie sales reps never gain the confidence, courage, or common sense to close sales in your place.

As your investment increases, your energy wanes, and your optimism fades, the realization may dawn bright as a Florida sunrise: Maybe I am irreplaceable. Maybe no one can step into my role and keep the company growing?

This is true when your new and existing customers insist on dealing directly with you—the ultimate decision maker—to:

  • see what they are buying;
  • agree on special terms; or
  • gain ultimate confidence in your company.

The truth will set you free, but only if you accept it. Your financial and legal advisors may insist that you can't grow your firm with only one rainmaker, but watch what they do as well as what they say. Many of their businesses maximize current sales and profits because they are rarely sold after the owner leaves. Their value is too closely tied to the owner. This can be just as true for your manufacturing, contracting, distribution, or service business.

This means you may lose your dream of a big payout, but you can hit your goals of growing sales and profits, keeping your investment, and improving your lifestyle. The trick is to run your company around your closing abilities. Here are five key steps:

  1. Reorganize your company around finding, keeping, and growing customers so that everyone in sales and customer service ties you up to close business by taking all responsibility for production, delivery, administration, lead qualification, and service.
  2. Train your inside people to understand what constitutes an opportunity or need for your involvement. Delegate everything else, including the actual work, to your staff whenever possible.
  3. Document your process for qualifying leads and up-selling existing customers. Create the right questions for your staff to ask and hold them accountable for the number and quality of opportunities they generate for you.
  4. Delegate other business functions so you can focus on growing sales. It is almost impossible to be as good at production, finance, or administration as you are at finding, keeping, and growing customers.
  5. Take your money out of the business whenever it does not immediately help you to sell and deliver more business. Until you have found the way to leverage yourself, you need to reduce overhead, streamline operations, and run the company for results. S Corporations are ideal for this.

In many businesses, there is a star. If you are the ONE, stop fighting it and accept your leading role. Even if you have dozens of employees, it may still be all about you. By accepting and acting on this you will probably make more sales, keep more profits, and enjoy your business life much more.

As John D. Rockefeller said: “My goal in life is to give everyone else all my work so I can spend all my time thinking up new ways to make money.” Should your people be doing all your work for you?


Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at  (412) 973-2080, by email at abirol@andybirol.com, or on the web at www.andybirol.com.

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