Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rainmaking: "If you build it, they will come. If you don't keep working on it, they will go away."

You will recall from my previous blogs, that in November and December I did alot of reading and background research about small business and being an entrepreneur. I read about being a Rainmaker in sales. In theory I understood that being a Rainmaker means that if you don't get out there and sell then you won't sell anything. Sounds obvious enough. But in the past month I have been experiencing it first hand.

The Rainmaker image is an allegory suggesting that the rain doesn't just come - you need to do a rain dance to attract it, encourage it and coax it. And you don't just do it once and walk away. You need to keep up the dance.

My first sponsorships and first site memberships were thrilling. After launching RoadRaceResults.com I promoted it at The Around-The-Bay Road Race. The result was a spike in traffic and some phone calls that lead to sponsorship. Then nothing. So I made some calls and sent out some emails. And BAM, more sponsorship and partners.

I went back to developing some features and working on a partner eCommerce site and the incoming interest and traffic to the site waned. I started to really get the feel for how sales and promotion activity responds directly to the amount of effort I put into it.

It feels like inflating a ballon that has a slow leak. If you keep pumping air into it then everything is great. As soon as you stop pumping air then the balloon slowly deflates and 'dies'.

At this point, I am still at the stage where revenue isn't the main priority until more features are completed which will lead to traffic which is necessary for advertisers. So I don't need to keep 'pumping up' the work on getting sponsors but site traffic works the same way. If you abandon your work on promoting the site to build traffic then your logs will directly reflect this. I have watched 'hits' go from thousands to hundreds in a week whenever I neglect my work on promotion.

The Field of Dreams mantra, "If you build it, they will come." doesn't work in business.
Rather, "If you build it, they will come. If you don't keep working on it, they will go away."

In just the short month that I have been Rainmaking, I've learned that the following traits are necessary:
1) Creativity - come up with creative solutions by imagining you are the prospect and creatively creating a solution for them
2) Enthusiasm - get excited about how a partnership between you and the prospect will create a Win-Win outcome (you need to keep thinking about how the other party will benefit)
3) Persistence...to a point - offer altenative solutions to your customer (different promotions, different requirements, scaled back features etc), but know when it's time to stop the pressure and just keep in touch with the customer in case the situation changes in the future
4) Integrity - believe that what you have is exactly what the client or customer needs, and if it is not then move on
5) Being Real - the best approach is to simply communicate with your customer as yourself, don't try to be slick

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