Hate Selling? Legal Business Development Book Offers Great Advice for Any Industry
Book Review of Julie A. Fleming’s The Reluctant Rainmaker: A Guide for Lawyers Who Hate Selling
“The best time to begin business development activity is several years ago; the next best time to begin is now.”
A rainmaker is someone who brings in new clients. Though the term is most often used in the legal profession, every business needs rainmakers among their staff to ensure company success.
Written as a lawyer’s tool for business development, The Reluctant Rainmaker by Julie A. Fleming provides helpful insights for anyone who knows the necessity of putting himself or herself out there but is wary of marketing. Fleming offers both broad advice and a multitude of specific suggestions supported by real-life examples.
The book has three major themes:
Plan, plan, plan: Whether planning your entire business development strategy or just which social media platforms to use, it’s important to consider what your goals are, what your acceptable investment-to-payoff ratio is, and which activities will best help you achieve these goals.
Fleming shares the example of a lawyer who spent fifteen hours writing and revising an article, only to discover that it wasn’t the right fit for any periodical. After revising it, he was able to get it published by a journal that his target audience didn’t read or respect. If, instead, he had researched which periodicals his target audience read and respected, studied what kind of articles those periodicals published, and then wrote his article to match those guidelines, he would have had much better results.
Don’t sell; build relationships: Much of business development is networking. When talking to clients and potential clients, meeting new people at networking events, and connecting online, it’s important to talk to them as people that you are interested in relating to and learning more about, not just pushing your products and services on them.
Further, Fleming states that your best bet for future clients are current clients and past clients. People who have already bought from you and already know your products or services are far more likely to be interested in buying again in the future than a stranger who is unfamiliar with you and your work–and these are the people who will be most happy to refer you to others. Therefore, most of your focus should go to retaining these clients rather than pursuing new ones.
Do what works for you, not what works for others. Each company, as well as each individual, must consider their own brand, target audience, and personality, not just assume that what worked for someone else will also work for them.
Fleming details twelve rainmaking activities to use to achieve your goals but suggests only implementing three to five of these at a time. This will allow you to invest fully in each. After researching the options, you need to determine which three to five activities will return the best results for you based on your target audience and brand.
The book ends with a section on time management, which I found to be especially useful. Fleming suggests separating tasks into four quadrants:
Urgent and Important: These are essential tasks that must be done immediately, perhaps because of a looming deadline. While working in this quadrant may cause you to complete tasks much more effectively, it also tends to be very stressful and may result in a lower-quality end product.
Not Urgent but Important: These are essential tasks that must be done, but that you have more time to complete. You may have less motivation to complete these because there is not an immediate deadline. While these tasks can be done at any time, Fleming recommends completing these tasks before they develop into Urgent and Important tasks because it saves you stress and tends to result in better-quality work.
Urgent but Not Important: These are tasks that must be done immediately if they’re going to be done, but that aren’t especially important, such as answering the phone or attending a networking meeting with few potential contacts. It’s good to do these because they may result in important work–that phone call may be from a prospective client–but if you find yourself spending too much time in this quadrant, then you should consider reallocating your time to more important tasks.
Not Urgent and Not Important: The final quadrant is one that people often find themselves in when doing social media networking. They get absorbed in chatting on Twitter, regularly updating their Facebook page, or tweaking their LinkedIn profile. If you realize you’re working in this quadrant too much, immediately look for different tasks to accomplish.
Fleming also advocates shifting your schedule to optimize the times you work best, resulting in more effective work rather than more time working. This could mean blocking off two hours in the morning for completely uninterrupted work, working in seventy minute blocks with ten minute breaks in between each block, or doing lunch meetings instead of morning meetings because at lunchtime you’re more awake and alert. By working with your natural rhythm rather than against it, you’re able to increase efficiency while working fewer hours.
Though not a lawyer myself, I found many useful tidbits in The Reluctant Rainmaker. Fleming’s detailed suggestions and real-life examples provide a comprehensive guide on how to build relationships, bring in new clients, and revitalize your work life.
Purchase a copy of the book today or visit Life at the Bar for more information.
Note: While author Julie Fleming is my client, she did not pay me to review this book nor do I get any commission for recommending it.