It's tempting to think that rainmakers are a special breed.

Many wonder how a rainmaker reels in so much business while others can only shake their heads in amazement. Some people suggest that rainmaking is a genetic predisposition and therefore beyond reach for all but a select few.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Rainmaking is part skill and part mindset. Anyone who is willing to invest the necessary time and energy can become a rainmaker.

Invest beyond table stakes

The rainmaker's first rule is that it's not enough to woo customers with the wine-and-dine approach. Tickets to sporting events, dinners and golf outings can help you develop feel-good personal relationships with customers. But it's foolhardy to expect a steady stream of business as a result.

Think about it. If a customer asked for your advice on how to improve sales, would you suggest taking his prospective customers to lunch? Entertaining customers is easy and fun. But don't expect those opera tickets to make the difference between winning and losing.

Rainmakers do get to know their customers outside the conference room, but they view social activities as table stakes. They know that consistently landing sales takes much more.

Go deep

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Michael W. McLaughlin is the coauthor, with Jay Conrad Levinson, of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants. Michael is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the editor of Management Consulting News ( and the Guerrilla Consultant. For more information, visit