I’m on the emailing list of several major tax marketing guru’s. It pays to stay aware of what the competition is doing out in the marketplace. And, I see all sorts of hype and promises, from buy my course and you’ll be a gazillionaire tomorrow, to this is the next great hope and if you do it, all of your competitors will be driven to the curb.
Needless to say, I wind up taking a lot of it with a grain of salt. I think a lot of these guys are marketing to folks who are looking for the next shiny widget to rescue them. Personally, I think it takes an understanding of business model, strategy and tactics, and the ability to choos the correct one for a particular market, or market segment.
There’s no one size fits all in professional marketing.
There is one goal though, and that is to be perceived as the knowledgeable expert that members of your target market want to be identified with, and to have access to.
I’ve regularly gone into great detail about what the steps are to achieve this, and how to become that proverbial ‘Rainmaker’ for your practice, or firm. It’s a pretty standard methodology, with specific tactics and goals. But, there is one more thing that I don’t talk about much, that it might be time to put out on the table for discussion.
What does it take to become a great Rainmaker?
Which boils down to getting an understanding of what your chances of succeeding as an independent practitioner, or firm partner are (if you’re in one of those places).
First of all, there are the minimum qualifying attributes. Accountants need to be smarter than the average Joe, well-educated, able to speak intelligently and coherently, self confident and business ready.
But, those attributes only get you started when you’re needing to generate at least$2,000 to $5,000 dollars a day in billable revenue. What else is needed to get to the top?
I think I may have found or figured out the top requirements for super achiever Rainmakers.
First, there is curiousity.
Accountants are problem solvers and consultants. This curiousuity causes them to constantly be trying to identify the question that needs to be asked, and how best to answer it. It doesn’t matter what is going on, whether the client has tax problems, their finances are in the tank, employee turnover is through the roof, or what. A top performer isn’t afraid to ask questions and seek solutions. Clients want someone who takes an interest in their problems and communicates that to them.
Secondly is the ability to think and communicate those thought coherently.
As an accounting professional, and wannabe Rainmaker, you must be able to think in a structured and organized manner, and be able to communicate your thoughts to the client in a way they can understand and use. These days it becomes even more important than ever as there is so much competition for the client’s attention that you have be structured and interesting in order to keep them engaged. Luckily, it is a skill that can be learned.
Third, you need to be able to dive deeply into a topic and at the same time think about it in the abstract.
With this attribute, you are on your way to being able to develop grreat insights with your ability to absorb detail while at the same time being able to question the data and understand what it means.
The Fourth attribute on our list is tenacity and stamina.
Top Rainmakers are A-type people. Rainmakers are forsed to spend their entire days operating at a 110%energy level. They must have the mental and physical stamina to pace themselves and be able to produce results on a comstant basis. They must be able to run the gamut from data collection and interpretation to business development without losing a step.
Fifth, there is the Continuing Professional Education.
Skill is one thing, but knowledge is another and top Rainmakers stay ahead of their peers by keeping their skills ahead of the curve. Being able to be contemporary and aware of the changes in the industry, and in the market is vital to success as a Rainmaker.
Moving on to the Sixth attribute, you need to act Grown Up, and Pleasant.
Succesful Rainmakers, especially those who work with Complex clients have their lives become so intertwined with their clients that their ability to develop rapport and trust becomes necessearry for developing a successful relationship.
Lucky Seven is the ability to manage the Delivery of Work.
Ultimately you will be judged by your output. You’ll be expected to deliver high quality work, on time, and on budget. If staff falls ill, you may have to step in and pick up the slack. Of course you’ll have good contingency plans, but they will inevitably fall by the wayside and you will need to adapt and still deliver.
Finally, you need to be able to differentiate yourself.
Firms who compete on price, or who operate in Portere’s Low Cost Leadership Quadrant, don’t need Rainmakers. They need sales reps. If you want to profit and operate at the high end of the market, you must differentiate yourself to the point that clients can identify you as the expert in a particular niche or market segment. Rainmaker’s must have something special to offer, otherwise they operate in a generic environment and become a ‘me too’ type of also ran.
If yo are aspiring to build a successful practice, you will need to determine what approach you want to take, whether it is to be a Low Cost Leader, or to Differentiate. If it is to be a Low Cost Leader, I wish you good luck. That is a hard row to hoe. If you want to differentiate, I suggest you find a focus in your differentiation, and develop these Rainmaker attributes.
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Best to you and yours,
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