The Rainmaker’s Manifesto

Go on and you will find a million business books.  Many of them will be on topics such as how to start a successful company, entrepreneurship, strategic management, Internet marketing, enlightened communication, leadership, “putting the right people in the right seats on the bus,” etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.   There are so many books, yet so few new ideas.  It’s true when they say that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  In business, things are constantly changing… particularly since the advent of e-commerce and the rapidity of globalization.  But, if you start drilling down on business theory, it all comes back to one simple thing – profit.

No matter if you’re Apple, Tesla, Coca-Cola, or two college dropouts starting up a company in your parents’ garage, nothing happens in business until somebody buys what you’re selling.  Period.  Despite every millennial being told in their executive MBA courses that they are supposed to change the world with their company (and they should expect to be as famous as Mark Zuckerberg by the time they turn 30), the purpose of any business is still to have more money coming in than going out.  Therefore, I would argue that the most important skill any entrepreneur can possess is the ability to sell.

If you can sell, you will always be able to put food on the table.  Don’t get wrong, accountants, lawyers, executive assistants, HR people (well, maybe not HR people), and other employees are all extremely valuable.  But, as Tom Watson, founder of IBM, so famously stated, “Nothing happens in business until somebody buys something.”  There is a reason that some salespeople – particularly those that work on a commission salary structure – can often make more money than their superiors in the company.

In the famous scene from the 80’s movie, Glenngary Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s cold-blooded character, Blake, screams at his audience to, “A-B-C: Always Be Closing!”  Although the clip has been deemed to be “too offensive” in today’s politically correct world (somewhat understandable), I can certainly remember a time when salespeople who fit this mold were viewed as champion rainmakers.  Type-A personalities, who were materialistic and played by their own rules, these sales predators were also considered a bit sketchy or unethical (however, as long as they kept making their quotas management loved them).

Are things really so different today?  As famed author and speaker Daniel Pink points out in his monumental book, To Sell Is Human, A-B-C now stands for “Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity” (I recommend you buy the book to learn more).  Pink makes the claim that although 1 out of every 9 individuals are professional salespeople, the other eight are still selling themselves – or their ideas – to those around them every day.  Therefore, whether you’re a business owner, an employee, or a stay home parent, you can only benefit from improving your ability to sell.

The economic environment will have its ups and downs and business trends will come and go.  One thing that won’t change (unless we fall back into a system of bartering) is the concept of goods and services in exchange for money.  In the foreseeable future, people will always need to sell.  Just like a child selling lemonade on a corner, the more money you have coming in, versus going out, the higher your profits.  And just like a child, to be considered a rainmaker, you gotta know your A-B-Cs!