Three Obstacles to Rainmaking Success

I’ve been doing a lot of speaking and coaching lately on business development, and someone asked a great question: what are the top obstacles to rainmaking success?

I’ve identified three universal challenges.  Do any of these sound uncomfortably familiar to you?

1.  “I don’t know what to do.”  There’s so much information out there about how to bring in new cases and clients and, even more importantly, how to ensure that your current clients are satisfied — no, delighted — with the service you provide.  Sometimes, having lots of good information is overwhelming.  When I work with someone on rainmaking, one of the first things we focus on (after clearly identifying the goal at hand) is to simplify tasks, according to a targeted plan.  Don’t flail around and try “the latest thing.”  Figure out what works well for you and do it consistently.

2.  Mindset challenges.  The challenges that we create up for ourselves (and please note that I am including myself here!) vary dramatically.  I’ve heard all of the following:

  • Rainmaking is easier for them (men, women, lawyers in big firms, lawyers in small firms, litigators, transactional lawyers, and on and on and on).
  • Everything I do has to be perfect, and I’m busy getting ready to get out there.  (This crops up a lot with lawyers who see speaking, writing, and holding leadership positions in an organization as a good route for business development.)
  • I have to do it all myself, so I’m going to clear the decks and then get started.
  • I’m too young.
  • I’m too old.
  • I tried [insert an activity here] and it didn’t work, so why should I bother?
  • My technical skills are so good, I don’t need to market.

There may be at least a grain of truth to each of these rationalizations (and the infinite variations that exist), but buying into these statements is a huge red flag.  These “reasons” justify a lack of success and perhaps even a lack of effort.  Neither leads to great results.

3.  “I don’t have enough time to get my work done and live, and now I should add on business development activities?  You’ve got to be kidding me.”  This obstacle is the most valid and therefore the most insidious.  It also plays into the mindset obstacles, because very often a lawyer who holds a negative belief about client development will sink more and more time into fruitless rainmaking activity.  Imagine, for instance, a lawyer who polishes an article to the point of “perfection,” only to find that it’s no longer newsworthy.  Fortunately, you can implement three steps to create time for business development: prioritization, systemization, and delegation.

What blocks your rainmaking efforts?

1 reply
  1. nancy fox
    nancy fox says:

    These obstacles ring so true. I hear them all the time from many clients and colleagues. At a recent roundtable networking event, something very interesting happened that relates to your comment about DELIGHTING clients. The first part of the event entailed professionals going around the table, giving their name, title, business or area of practice specialty. People were practically falling asleep in their soup. Then the moderator asked each person to share an example of when and how they had left a specific client DELIGHTED. The examples were fantastic, ranging from one attorney saving a client from certain bankruptcy in 12 hours. Another participant who specializes in haberdashery to the stars fitted a hard-to-tailor well-known wrestling celeb and made him look like a million bucks. He then got an order for 30 suits at $4000 a piece !

    If we just take a moment and think about the people we have truly delighted with our work, our confidence skyrockets and rainmaking becomes so much easier.

    Nancy Fox

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