September 15, 2020 Shawn

Are You A Rainmaker Or A Rain Barrel In The Speaking Business?

In the world of sales, there’s a coveted title called ‘rainmaker.’ These are the folks who make it rain sales, but there’s more to it than that. They’re the people that make conversions. They turn prospects into customers. There are few ‘rainmakers’ in the world of professional speaking for a few reasons.

First, we’re used to drought.

Most speakers were taught along the way that there are busy seasons and slow seasons in the speaking industry. That comes from a fundamental flaw in the way they prioritize their time and operate their businesses. Instead of being rainmakers, they’re rain barrels – capturing whatever business happens to fall in their laps. That’s a recipe for feast or famine revenues in the speaking businesses.

The second reason there are so few rainmakers in the world of professional speaking is because no one (besides us) is teaching speakers how to actually generate business. Instead, speakers are taught to invest time in every form of passive marketing available: Writing books, blogs, creating videos, etc. Even improving the SEO of your website is a passive marketing strategy because someone has to get online and enter the search term you’ve programmed your website to appear from! Think about it – a rainmaker in the world of sales goes to where the conditions are right for making it rain, meaning they go to where their value is needed. They’re active, they’re moving. A rain barrel sits there, at the lowest point in a drop of water’s journey, passively accepting whatever comes along. Unfortunately, most speakers are passive in business generation and their calendars (and income) reflect it.

Being a rainmaker is an active choice we make every day in our businesses. Not doing the things rainmakers do will absolutely turn a former rainmaker into a rain barrel. So what does it take to become a rainmaker and stay that way, or to evolve from being a rain barrel?

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1. Self agency
Self-agency is a touchy topic in an era where we are taught to point fingers at everyone else to explain why we haven’t achieved our goals in life or business, but I’ve never met a rainmaker in any industry who didn’t have an extremely strong sense of self-agency. What is self-agency? It’s the belief that we have the ability to affect the environment around us. We may not always be able to choose what comes into our environment, but what we do about what happens is completely within our control. If you believe that the economy defines your success as a speaker, or whether there are live events happening, or that your revenue is determined by inbound inquiries, you have a low sense of self-agency and are by definition a rain barrel.

2. Control of a prospect’s buying decision
Many speakers don’t know that once they discover an association or organization that has events and hires speakers, being hired has nothing to do with anyone in that organization. “You mean to tell me that the it’s not up tot hat decision maker whether I’m paid to speak for them?” you may be asking. That’s exactly what I’m saying. They may not choose to have you speak this year, but if you leave it up to your prospects to take the initiative to reach out to you, your likelihood of ever being hired is slim. Rainmakers in the speaker world, and in any industry, control a prospect’s buying decision by always owning the next step of the sales process. Even if someone tells me, ‘send me your speaking info and fees and I’ll be in touch if I’m interested’ do you think I let it stop there? No! I’m trying every day to be a  rainmaker. I always own the next step in any interaction with someone who can hire me, and so should you.

3. Only taking in the best water
Ever seen dirty rain? I imagine its possible, but having been rained on in more than two dozen countries, I can tell you that most of the water that’s soaked me was clean enough to drink. Rainmakers ensure only the highest quality prospects are in their pipeline, so that they don’t spend time trying to squeeze clean water out of a muddy puddle. In the world of speaking, that means qualifying your prospects by ensuring they do have events, that they have hired professional speakers in the past and that those speakers were paid at least what we want to be paid. What do rain barrels do in contrast? I’ve seen rain barrels filled with mud, because they have to accept whatever the gutter throws at them. Speakers who don’t ensure only the best prospects are in their pipeline are often forced to take whatever events come their way, whether it’s in their ideal fee range or their ideal type of audience.

4. Following weather patterns
Rain doesn’t show up very often in the desert, and it’s almost always present near a rainforest. Ever wonder why? It’s because rain materializes where the conditions are most conducive to rain. Rainmakers in any industry look for the right patterns in order to make it rain. Rainmakers use their own outreach methods, systems and cadences in pursuing their prospects to ensure that when a prospect needs water, the rainmaker will be right there and ready to drop sweet liquid goodness on the folks who need it. What does a rain barrel do instead? It doesn’t have a pattern. If there’s water around, it’s forced to take whatever comes along, and if there’s no water for years, the barrel has no way to generate it. Rain barrels are often quick to rust, and so are the businesses of speakers who don’t pay attention to the patterns that attract rain.

If we want to run a scalable, predictable business model as a professional speaker, we need to take the time to ask ourselves every week if our schedule reflects that of a rainmaker or a rain barrel. Are we going to where the conditions are optimal for rain? Are we ensuring we’re carrying the highest-quality water in our pipeline? Are we following consistent patterns for our outreach? If we’re doing all those things, then we have the capability to make it rain, whatever the economy is doing and whether the next prospect we reach out to says they’re interested in buying from us today or not.

If we’re maintaining our status as rainmakers, when our decision makers are ready for what we have to offer, we’ll be there ready to rain solutions on them that they’re thirsty for.

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