Rainmaker: Definition, Traits, How to Become One

What Is a Rainmaker?

A rainmaker is any person who brings clients, money, business, or even intangible prestige to an organization based solely on his or her associations and contacts. The rainmaker is usually regarded highly within the company by other employees and is a key figure like a principal, partner, or executive. The term is sometimes used in the context of political fundraising as well.

Key Takeaways

  • A rainmaker is a person who brings clients, business, and money to their firm.
  • A retired politician with a large following and the ability to raise campaign funds for others is also a rainmaker.
  • The term is often used in the legal profession, but also business, investment banking, and entertainment.
  • Technically, a rainmaker can exist in any part of any business.
  • An individual that brings real, positive change to an organization is a rainmaker.

Understanding Rainmakers

Traditionally, the term "rainmaker" has been applied to members of the legal profession, like politicians with law degrees who retire from public life to practice at nationally recognized law firms. However, over time, the term has gained usage in many other industries and activities, including investment banking, political campaigning, and public speaking.

For example, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's association with the environmental movement prompted numerous venture capital firms to add Gore as a partner in hopes that his "rainmaking" abilities would help them raise hundreds of millions of dollars for alternative energy initiatives.

In everyday usage, the term "rainmaker" can apply to anyone–from the salesperson who always books the most sales to the marketing guru who consistently finds innovative ways to present a company's products. In the purest sense, a rainmaker is a difference-maker, someone capable of turning the tide when things get rough, or bringing new money or accounts to the business that other people could not.

John Grisham's 1995 novel The Rainmaker is centered on Rudy Baylor, a lawyer fresh out of school. The book is aptly named as Baylor is referred to as "a bright young star with a golden touch".

Traits of a Rainmaker

Successful salespeople that consistently drive sales and execute deals often have a specific skill set that helps them be successful in their industry. For this reason, though not all rainmakers are the sale, there may be several traits that are common in the sales field that help explain why rainmakers achieve consistent success.

  • Rainmakers are often able to piece together small details to craft the large-scale problem into a solution.
  • Rainmakers often possess deep knowledge in their industry to be armed with the most possible potential solutions.
  • Rainmakers often build deep relationships with their clients, prioritizing long-term loyalty over short-term success.
  • Rainmakers often absorb input from clients and can successfully process what solution should be output.
  • Rainmakers can often push through failures and move beyond lost sales or rejected propositions.
  • Rainmakers often know what it takes to close a deal, knowing what it takes to push an open proposal into the final stage of the deal.

How to Become a Rainmaker

A rainmaker must often possess a deep skillset tied to strategic management, sales, and communication. While there is no specifically-determined set of knowledge or talents a rainmaker must have, there is a plethora of soft skills that help foster, execute, and close deals.

Like many positions in sales, rainmakers have a strong ability to listen to clients, absorb what their needs are, and craft a solution they can appropriately communicate. This all starts with a rainmaker being able to hear what a client needs. This also includes extracting what a rainmaker thinks a company needs even if it isn't communicated. To develop the skillset of a rainmaker, salespeople must practice connecting with clients and building their ability to listen.

A rainmaker often takes a strong interest in understanding what their company provides and what solutions they have at their disposal. They may not need to become the top technical expert in their industry; however, a rainmaker has deep knowledge they are able to use when communicating with clients. Once a salesperson has found their industry of interest, they can become a rainmaker by gathering as many solutions as possible for their clients.

In addition to deep communication and business skills, rainmakers often possess soft skills enrooted along the sales process. Rainmakers know how to dictate the pace of a sale, know how to best communicate with clients, promote suggestive selling, help clients break down barriers and overcome obstacles, and realize how to successfully close a sale. To become a rainmaker, salespeople simply need practice throughout the entire sales process.

A rainmaker isn't a job title. It's a way to describe a successful employee, and a rainmaker can exist in any industry, company, or sector.

Sectors of Business

Technically, a rainmaker can exist in any part of any business, but the phrase is most commonly applied to people with the ability to make significant changes in a few key sectors:

Politics: The rainmakers in politics are usually less visible, but the phrase can apply to past officeholders who hold connections to wealth and political power. Someone who can sway a vote is considered a rainmaker, as is a personality that can bring large crowds to a fundraising event.

Corporate Business: Business is the sector where the term is most commonly used. It is usually given to partners or associates (usually in legal teams) that possess the connections or ability to foster connections that bring significant business to the company or firm. Rainmakers in business are defined by their ability to come through with big clients and to motivate existing clients to spend more money.

Entertainment: The entertainment rainmaker is similar to the business rainmaker, but their focus is a bit different. In entertainment, talent is the most valuable commodity, which is why rainmakers in the entertainment business are individuals who can secure talent. A good example would be a stadium being able to book a headlining act like Ed Sheeran when his schedule is fully committed, or knowing how to get Michael Jordan involved in a charity event.

What Is a Rainmaker?

A rainmaker is a successful businessperson known for closing sales or bringing success in other ways for their company. They are usually known as being a consistent, reliable, successful salesperson that has strong business relationships. They can also bring non-financial benefits to a company through intangible assets or prestige.

What Do Rainmakers Do?

Rainmakers are often externally facing members of a company. They often interact with clients, customers, vendors, and other outside parties to help deliver benefits to their company. Whether its through executing sales, closing on favorable pricing for products, or luring external talent to join the company, a rainmaker works to consistently deliver success to their company.

What Makes a Good Rainmaker?

A successful rainmaker consistently delivers benefits to their company. They are known as always closing deals and bringing assets. A good rainmaker listens to external parties, knows how to craft solutions around client problems, and possess deep knowledge on their industry.

How Do I Become a Rainmaker?

To become a rainmaker, one should strive at achieving the greatest success in their position. As rainmakers often interface with external parties, those interested in becoming a rainmaker may consider getting more practice working with customers, closing deals, listening to client needs, and learning more about the products and solutions they can offer to their customers.

The Bottom Line

A rainmaker is someone who can bring real, positive change to an organization. Although born in business, the term applies to anyone with the unique capabilities of making business, money, or connections appear out of seemingly nowhere.

Article Sources
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  1. John Grisham. "The Rainmaker."

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