Co-President of RAIN Group, Mike Schultz is world-renowned as a consultant and expert in sales performance improvement. He’s co-author of the Wall Street Journal and Inc. Magazine bestseller Rainmaking Conversations: How to Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation (Wiley, 2011) and Professional Services Marketing (Wiley, 2009) and was named as the Top Sales Thought Leader globally in 2011 and 2012 by Top Sales Awards.
Britty: In 10 words or less how would you describe RAIN Group?
Mike: We help companies and their people to maximize sales performance.
Britty: Who does the RAIN Group help and how has it changed over the years?
Mike: We typically work with companies that have a complex sale. This could be either a complex process like multiple buyers, long sales cycles, enterprise sales, high-dollar value offerings, and so on like in most B to B industries, or a complex product or service set like financial services and banking that is both B to B and B to C.
Most common industries we work with are technology, financial services, professional services (AEC, accounting, law), consulting firms, and heavy manufacturing.
Britty: Not a lot of companies are as open when it comes to speaking about their business. Do you think this is one of the reasons why people connect with your RAIN Group blog so well?
Mike: I think that if you have value to offer the market you should showcase that. People connect with the blog because we share research, content, case studies, and tools that people find helpful. People connect with us typically because our approach is practical, and focused on achieving real sales performance results.
Britty: RAIN Group has been awarded numerous awards and has been extremely successful in attracting many prestigious clients such as; Monitor Group, Lowes, Ameresco, Pegasystems, Fidelity Investments, Ryder, Roche, Bank of America, IDC Research and Mellon Bank. Could you explain to us what it took to get those clients? What are the main factors that have led to RAIN Group’s growth and success?
Mike: From a marketing and sales perspective we’re very energetic and focused on generating leads, building brand, and running our own selling process effectively. But those are the answers for how you get these kinds of clients. You do that by
Add rigorous sales and marketing to the mix, and good clients will come.
Britty: What are the biggest challenges you face in marketing and sales currently?
Mike: You might think that a rapidly changing and increasingly sophisticated buying community and buying process is a challenge. It’s not a challenge, it’s an opportunity. Buyers have access to more knowledge about firms and options than ever before. If you’re willing to focus on making sure what they find out about you is good, then this will help you grow.
The greatest challenge is finding good people. You might think, with unemployment still high, that wouldn’t be the case. But you have to be careful who you have join your team. We see the opportunity for much more growth, but we won’t chase that growth at the expense of quality. So sometimes growth takes longer because it takes a while to find just the right people, but it’s more durable that.
Britty: You have published multiple books such as the bestseller Rainmaking Conversations: How to Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation; do you have any other books in the works or future plans?
Mike: I have a number sales-focused books in mind, but at the moment everyone’s asking me to turn my son’s story at www.EchoOfHope.org into a book. He’s been through a life-threatening battle since before he was born. He’s on the right track now after a long struggle. Maybe that’ll be next.
Mike: After good offers that resonate at the right prices with the right copy, landing page testing is key.
Britty: Which online tools do you recommend for businesses just getting started?
Mike: LinkedIn comes first if selling is important to you.
Britty: What advice would you give to companies seeking to maximize the effectiveness of their marketing dollars?
Mike: Don’t take advice without knowing exactly what you want to do. There are reasons people focus on websites, email, SEO, thought leadership, advertising, direct mail, direct sales, PR, blimps, and all the rest. Be very careful figuring out what’s right for you, and know what you want to get out of it. Surprisingly, many people skip this step, and just do things without knowing what it’s likely (or not) to get them.
Britty: What was the last book you read? What online resources do you subscribe to?
Mike: This morning I was reading poetry the Norton Anthology of English Literature to my son. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. (I don’t read poetry all the time, but it was the most recent.)
I spend more time online on RelationshipStrategy.com, SellingConsultingServices.com, and RainToday.com more than most others. I like to read CopyBlogger. CelticsBlog.com gets me almost every day to visit.
Britty: Thanks again for providing LeadLifter with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Mike: LeadLifter helps people get “ballpark pricing” squared away well. The concept is a very powerful one in sales. We call it “investment norming.” Give people a sense of what something will cost roughly early in the process and it helps you move forward with people that are willing to move forward, and dismiss those that won’t be willing to every play in your ballpark.
Even if people don’t ask, “What’s this going to cost” early on, sometimes it’s a good idea to bring it up proactively. I’ve seen people spend 6 months and fly around the country multiple times selling a solution at a price that was a complete non-starter for the prospect company. Best to avoid that.
As well, giving ballpark pricing can have the effect of painting the picture of the rough investment for senior buyers. Then, three months later when the actual pricing comes in, there’s no sticker shock. They were expecting it.
And, as LeadLifter points out, few sellers will do this. They should.
RAIN Group is a Premier Sales Training & Sales Consulting Company. RAIN Group is a sales performance improvement company. Located in greater Boston, we help companies with complex sales develop an army of rainmakers – top performers who drive robust revenue growth.