What is a rainmaker?

A rainmaker is an individual who generates an unusually high amount of revenue for an organization by bringing new clients and new business to the company.

Rainmakers outperform others in the organization through their ability to bring in new ventures. Their contributions are considered critical to the success of the business. Rainmakers can also bring attention or prestige to an organization based solely on their previous work or contacts. This makes a rainmaker a highly valued individual for the organization, often as a model of successful business practices.

The role of a rainmaker

The new business or revenue that a rainmaker brings in is often from an unknown or overlooked source, creating the impression that the assets were created through mysterious means. The rainmaker's success typically hinges on them being an outgoing, motivated and energetic employee with a large social network of contacts. They are equally as skilled at managing existing relationships and clients as they are at establishing new ones.

Rainmaker is also used in a broader sense to refer to any prolific businessperson.

History of the rainmaker

In North America, the word rainmaker stems from Native American culture, which embraced the idea that an individual could bring rain through mysticism, religion or science.

In a business context, the term rainmaker originated in the legal profession. It initially described an attorney in a law firm -- typically a partner -- who brought in the newest clients or drummed up the newest business through individual contacts and efforts.

Use of the term spread to similar professional services industries, such as financial services and brokerage houses. Now, the term is broadly used to classify any individual who brings about a high level of success, particularly in terms of revenue and sales.

Traits of a rainmaker salesperson.

Skills and common traits of a rainmaker

There are no specific criteria that an individual must meet to be labeled a rainmaker, nor are there any certifications or designated activities that one must complete to earn this recognition. It is not typically used as a business title.

However, business and management leaders cite characteristics that are common among rainmakers, as well as activities that rainmakers usually undertake.

Rainmakers are focused on customers and their needs, and seek to help them solve their problems or cope with their challenges. They tend to be good listeners and responsive to others.

They also tend to be go-getters with not only self-motivation, but also the ability to motivate others. They are often influential and engaging.

Rainmakers are raking in new business -- and thus revenue -- but their primary focus is cultivating and building relationships to win over new clients and contracts.

They also recognize that business is about sales, so while they might be law firm partners or hold other executive roles, they see revenue management as part of their responsibilities.

Although rainmakers typically possess these traits naturally, they also work to improve their soft skills by scheduling time to make connections, meet prospects, and research industry news and trends.

This was last updated in August 2023

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