Typically, a small percentage of partners and staff bring in the majority of the new business. A lot of people in the firm bring in some business, but every firm has the one main rainmaker or a few others that keep the new influx of revenue flowing. Losing them can be a crippling blow and firms have been trying to figure out for decades how to teach others to bring in more business.
Most sales professionals understand the reason why this occurs. It’s the eagle versus the farmer principle. Every business has the eagle. If they are lucky, they have a few. The eagles fly and soar high. They knock down doors, say the right things and live for the kill. They thrive on winning and get their most professional enjoyment selling the really hard prospect. The one that tried to get away, but the eagle reeled them back in.
The farmers are the professionals in the firm that work best servicing the client. They are often the technicians who get the tax returns done, the audit out the door and deal with the details that the eagles do not have time to address anymore. Farmers are great professionals who often lack the experience the eagle has or are not comfortable in a sales oriented role. Let’s face it, most accountants, engineers, doctors, and technically oriented professionals studied their fields and because they really did not want to go into sales or be in a role where they are in front of people talking as the primary part of their job. It’s not their natural comfort zone. However, within every profession some “technicians” transform, or their natural sales personalities that have always been there emerge and the rainmaker is born.
Where firms struggle with this eagle and farmer concept is eagles do not always understand why farmers cannot be eagles. If you put a bunch of eagles in a room to discuss this, they just would sit there perplexed trying to figure out what’s wrong with the farmers. The farmers on the other hand look at the eagle and wonder how that person just always knows what to say, when to say it and how to “rip a situation apart” on the spot in seconds. To the farmer that just seems almost unfair. What most farmers do not understand is the eagle got this way because he or she tried and failed many times and with each failure they refined, learned and improved.
So what happens in most firms is the years pass by. Eagles start flying higher. Farmers dig deeper in their “crops.” The gap between selling abilities grows so much that farmers almost never get brought into selling situations because the risk is too high when we know the eagle will do it so much better. The only way to get a farmer to “eagle” more is for the eagle to let them try and fail or for the eagle to co-pilot the sales call and let the farmer lead the meeting. It’s best to do this with small prospects first.