Why deliberate practice is vital and yet so difficult in terms of the skill of rainmaking

Aleksander Góra
by Aleksander Góra on August 27, 2018
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September 17, 2018

Please forward this Blog to anyone you feel would benefit from reading brand new writing on the subject of business development and rainmaking. This 10-minute read focuses on the consideration that rainmaking skills are not necessarily a social art form or a soft skill. They are in fact a hard skill that can be developed. This can only take place within the context of deliberate practice.

However what exactly is the deliberate practice that will make it possible to improve this skill?

Examples that are not in this article could be:

  • Improve your handshake from warm to hot?
  • Improve your 60-second pitch to a 50-second pitch?
  • Improve your eye contact to the level of a hypnotist?
  • Develop your small talk to the level of interview legend Johnny Carson?
  • Develop an irresistible personality…whatever that is?

What can we do within the context of this concept?
We pick up our Blog from the publication: Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. This was published in 2016 by Anders Ericsson who is credited with identifying the concept of the 10,000 hours rule to generate skill to a standard to be an expert. ‘Peak’ is essentially a survey on the psychology of generating expertise, providing techniques for developing mastery of any skill and these are drawn from the authors extensive, path-finding research. So in relation to developing the expertise of rainmaking and prospect development we are going to reference Mr. Ericsson with pleasure.

So here we have purposeful practice in a nutshell: Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress. Oh, and figure out a way to maintain your motivation

– Anders Ericsson

When we consider deliberate practice in relation to rainmaking it should be within the context of the above paragraph. We are not talking about the art of schmoozing or the activity of collecting business cards or the footprint of your social media efforts but what we are talking about is:

  • Clear goals
  • A plan for reaching those goals
  • A way to monitor your progress towards those goals

Business development skills need to be created within the context of a clear objective. 5next believe this should be from the perspective of your-marketplace-of-maximum-relevance.

Your-market-place-of-maximum-relevance: the 5next process to discover your niche

Building a robust skill set to attract a niche audience is the first step.

Can you quantify your precise target audience and then put together a list of assets that you, your offer and your firm possess that is attractive to that audience? That is the start and then look at your skill set in connecting those assets to your audience. Can you clearly do that? It is a task that could be defined by a partners meeting or within a business development review. It is your rainmaking skill set and deliberate practice within that context.

When you have that starting point then break down the assets and skills required to communicate to your-marketplace-of-maximum-relevance and create a plan that is measurable that takes your rainmaking goal to that target. A series of definable measurable steps and that has to be the framework for your deliberate practice in terms of your skills requirement within that context.

For example, your marketplace is a commercial real estate. The skill that you need is to position yourself as a recognised-authority in that field within the first 3 minutes of a conversation within that market.

Introducing the ‘recognised authority’ model

Work out how to do that in a manner, that is not a pitch, but a positioning statement that can be backed up by evidence-of-competence. That is a specific goal and the skill set to do that can be created. Then measure the hours invested into your-marketplace-of-maximum-relevance and keep a record as to what is happening good, bad or indifferent to improve this skill.

Unless you follow a process like that how else can anyone actually follow the formula that Mr Ericsson has laid down?

The majority of us can connect to the concept that the more time you invest in mastering a task to improve a skill set then the more likely it is you develop to a higher level of competence. The insight from Mr Ericsson is that it is not actually the time you spend in improving the task that will take you forward to become the expert practitioner. It is deliberate practice within the context of how an expert would conduct themselves to that end. In terms of becoming an expert, we are essentially talking about the specific skill set of becoming an expert rainmaker. He refers to a concept defined as deliberate practice.

The best way to get past any barrier is to come at it from a different direction, which is one reason it is useful to work with a teacher or coach

– Anders Ericsson

Is there someone in your firm that you can ask for help?
Is there someone outside your firm that you can mirror?
Is there a competitor that you can observe and monitor?
Is there someone that is successful within your-marketplace-of-maximum relevance, that is
not competing with you, that it is possible to discuss this with?

The key to improved mental performance of almost any sort is the development of mental structures that make it possible to avoid the limitations of short-term memory and deal effectively with large amounts of information at once

– Anders Ericsson

Do you have a strategic networking plan that you are working to?
Do you know if you are on course or off course with regards to this?

If you don’t know where you are going any road will do

– Lewis Carroll

5next is continually engaged in business development within the context of rainmaking and our extensive research is that very few rainmakers are giving concentration to improving in a measurable manner. This is because most connect to the measurable concept of experience. This plays out such as:

‘I have 10 years experience in this already’

Now, this could be one month’s experience 120 months running. We all know that the improved results of training events, seminars or workshops are exposed to immediate deterioration in terms of impact immediately after.

Call it “the New Year’s resolution effect”— it’s why gyms that were crowded in January are
only half full in July and why so many slightly used guitars are available on Craigslist
– Anders Ericsson

The real issue is that rainmaking and business development has altered significantly. There is no clear measurable context that says; your skill set needs to improve, followed by; this is the deliberate practice required to improve it. We also have the consideration that the heavy lifting part of rainmaking is now in the hands of digital tools. For some, this alone is evidence of change and mastery of this additional skill set will suffice.

Rainmaking success more than ever requires you build your connections strategically to deliver your offer into your-marketplace-of-maximum-relevance. This will be by using your position-of-authority as well as evidence-of-competence to support your relevance to the prospect. Start your review of skills and the deliberate practice they require to improve by looking at the rainmaking goals that you set yourself in January and reflect that we are already over half way through the year.

What are you going to do to improve your network in 2018?

You need to review your skills because regardless of anything else the marketplace is treating professional skills more and more as a commodity and the only way to break the action is to behave in a strategic manner. Success in rainmaking requires you are truly consultative and you are perceived at the least as a peer, and you possess insights that allow you to connect to your future clients with regards to decisions around their business. Only deliberate practice can you develop this skill.

In 1908 Johnny Hayes won the Olympic marathon in what a spectator at the time described as the greatest race of the century. The winning time setting a world record for the marathon was; 2 hours, 55 minutes  and18 seconds.

Today more than a century later the world record for a marathon is 2 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds—nearly 30 percent faster than Hayes’s record time—if you’re an 18 – 34 year-old male, you aren’t even allowed to enter the Boston Marathon unless you’ve run another marathon in less than 3 hours, 5 minutes. In short, Hayes’s world-record time in 1908 would qualify him for today’s Boston Marathon which has about 30,000 runners) but with not a lot to spare

– Anders Ericsson

Just as marathon times have altered so has rainmaking. Unfortunately, most professional firms are not different enough to be able to compel connectivity due to their unique offer which means that the rainmakers have got to become more effective and efficient.

To solve this problem 5next has developed a business development process which we refer to as:

The recognised authority position

This we believe will provide rainmakers with the mindset, skill set and the tools that allow them to develop their rainmaking skills to match their prospective clients becoming someone those clients will want to connect.

Coming soon the white paper entitled:

‘Rainmaking depends on reputation, guard yours with your life’

Aleksander Góra
Aleksander Góra
Aleksander is co-founder & CEO of 5next. He is the author of Open Heart Website Surgery - An ultimate guide for leads generation for medium and small businesses. Featured in Rafael Dos Santos book - "100 Inspirational Migrant Entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom." Aleksander is also a product manager and Lead UX Designer in one of the leading conversion optimisation platforms Convertize.io
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