Chapter 17Getting to WorkLearning to Think and Act like a Rainmaker

Most young professionals realize early in their careers that, at some point, skill in generating business will be an important determinant of their success.

—David Maister, “Young Professionals: Cultivate the Habits of Friendship”

Our primary goal in interviewing accomplished professionals in the world of consulting and professional services was to better understand how clients buy. But over the course of our interviews, we were struck by how similar their advice was to others when asked about what they would recommend to someone trying to build their practice. Here are their greatest hits in no particular order:

Do Great Work

The key to business development is doing great work for your clients.

—Sarah Arnot, CEO, SA Leadership Performance (formerly with Accenture and Stuart Spencer).

Our rainmakers gave the advice, “Do great work,” more than any other.

Selling professional services is different from selling a tangible product. It is impossible to separate the product from the person. In professional services, we are the product. If our product isn't good, no amount of marketing effort will make us successful. Even sloppy practitioners may be successful at fooling a prospective client once, but in the long run, we live by our reputations. Those with stellar reputations ultimately outcompete those with inferior reputations. In professional services, it's impossible to be a great rainmaker without having ...

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