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Book Review: Rain Making by Ford Harding

Book Review: Rain Making by Ford Harding

Book Review: Rain Making by Ford Harding

RainMakingThe Rain Maker was a revered member of the tribe. They called upon the gods to bring the rain so the tribe could survive. In business, it is the person that brings back the big account or the large contract that is the rain maker. So to become a rain maker should be something that we all aspire to.

Harding, being a marketeer, suggests that this aim is best served by becoming the most effective marketeer possible…No surprise there. Any other observation would be like the turkey’s voting for Christmas!

In Rain Making: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field provided a series of tools, tips and techniques that you may find useful. Having read the book twice, I have certainly found value between its pages, although it is a little dated and shows no real comprehension of the power of the internet.

Part 1 – Marketing Tactics – How professionals generate leads

Harding’s background as a marketeer has given him the necessary insight into marketing and how to get your message out. He suggests that in marketing there a number of specialist skills and a number of key tasks to complete. These are:


  • Relationship building
  • listening
  • questioning
  • helping
  • empathising
  • Presenting
  • Writing
  • Organising


  • Selling
  • Cold Calling
  • Relationship marketing
  • Network marketing
  • Publicity
  • Seminars
  • Direct Mail
  • Public Speaking
  • Article Writing

Chapter 1 – Writing and Publishing your article

By writing an article you begin to build your reputation as an expert and most people would prefer to work with experts.

Articles start with an idea, so have a file where you capture ideas for turning into articles.

Having a target journal or market to write for helps you to focus both your writing and your expertise.

To appeal to a specific market, chose a single point of view:

  • Address a specific audience
  • Screen carefully information in and out
  • Provide focus, interest and purpose
  • Have a structure

The most common structures for articles are:

  • The list
  • The strawman – set up a premise and then knock it down
  • The miniature case study
  • The Interview
  • The Fad – Review a new way of things happening
  • More and more / fewer and fewer – how things are changing is a strong observational angle

Chapter 2 – Finding a Podium

Speeches are articles with ‘faces’ and like articles, public speaking helps you build your reputation as an expert.

Harding’s tips:

  • Don’t speak too long
  • Be conversational
  • Rehearse without the script

Chapter 3 – Networking: The Alternative to Cold Calling

Networking is helping people. Helping them with:

  • Information
  • About a service or product
  • About a client or a contact
  • About competitors
  • About new markets
  • Introductions, referrals and references
  • Clients
  • Contacts
  • Vendors
  • Prospective employees
  • Ideas or Advice
  • Personal Support
  • Free or discounted services

Recognising a lead is critical. Harding suggests a few questions to ask prospective network contacts:

  • Would you please describe your company and its services to products?
  • Who are your clients (or customers, by industry, company size, geography, etc)?
  • Who at your client companies buys your services?
  • What are some of the typical indicators that they might need you services?
  • What are a few questions I could ask to confirm whether there is really a need, if I uncover one of these indicators?
  • Who are your major competitors?
  • How are you different?
  • How do you go about finding new clients?
  • How can I help you?

Networking is a sincere effort rather than just scoring points.

Networking can have a sense of urgency and obligation.

It is an opportunity to show how your services can add value to a contacts business.

It is also the opportunity to show gratitude.

It requires you to spend time selling other people’s services.

It is time consuming

You must be selective about who you network with

It is helping other people to network too

It is figuring out who knows whom

It is also about building trust


Do’s and Don’t’s of developing trust:


  • Ask a contact how confidential his information is.
  • Ask a contact if you may pursue a lead he has given you.
  • Always ask permission before using a contacts name as a source of information.
  • Call the contact to let him know how things worked out
  • Show gratitude.
  • Help a contact who has helped you.
  • Tell a contact when you cannot help him because of a prior commitment.


  • Don’t share confidential information
  • Don’t ask where information comes from
  • Don’t share information provided by a contact with his competitor
  • Don’t go around a contact to his boss when you wish to share information with his firm

Networking offers one of the strongest business development techniques for professionals.


Chapter 4 – Special Rules for Special Networks

Work on introductions and relationships rather than selling. Expected behaviour includes:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Exchange business cards
  • Talk about any other than your interest in doing business with that person
  • Ask to allow a follow up call

You should:

  • Work towards building relationships
  • Keep track of who you meet
  • Make it easy for people to know you
  • Be co-operative
  • Look for reasons for re-contact clients after the meeting
  • Follow up with a personal note not an impersonal


Chapter 5 – Building Client Relationships That Last

All things being equal we will go to who we know. All things being unequal, we will still go to who we know. So developing a relationship is key:

  • Build a relationship early
  • Learn about your client (Harding has a form that captures the key information)
  • Different kinds of relationships are appropriate to different people
  • Different client different kinds of help

Harding’s help checklist is:

  • Good service?
  • Free or discounts?
  • Business Information?
  • Introductions, referrals or references?
  • Publicity?
  • Personal support?
  • Relationships are based on trust. To a client trust means:
  • You will do good work
  • You will not embarrass me
  • You will treat me honestly and fairly
  • You will look after my interests first
  • You are interested in me as a person

Relationships require frequent contact

Every contact should have a relationship strategy

Be sensitive to ethical issues with your contacts

Chapter 6 – Eliminate the Dread of Cold Calling


Cold calling can be intimidating for both you and the customer, but it can yield some great opportunities. There are 3 basic parts to the reasons for a cold call:

  • Getting a meeting
  • The meeting
  • The follow up

If you write to a potential client or get a referral, it is less of a cold call. That gives you a way to initialise a telephone call. The telephone call will allow you to engineer a meeting with the potential client which may lead to the sale!

The objectives of a cold call should be get passed the gatekeeper, determine if there is a need for your services and to let the prospect know that you have value to offer.

Always follow up a meeting or a cold call with a letter to move the relationship forward.

Chapter 7 – Marketing by Mail

Direct Mail can be a productive way to market your services, but it can be neither easy nor cheap. It needs to balance the variables:

  • Objective
  • List
  • Frequency
  • Message
  • Offers

Your aims are:

  • To remind past clients, prospects and market contacts of your existence
  • To build brand and name recognition
  • To generate leads
  • To prepare a phone call

Mail offerings could be:

  • Letters
  • Brochures
  • Newsletters
  • Reprints
  • White Papers
  • Gifts

Chapter 8 – Organizing a Seminar or Conference

Conferences offer interest and value and so there is benefit in running a conference in a field that you are expert in. Harding offers a comprehensive checklist to help you set up a conference or seminar.

The key decisions are about:

  • Topic?
  • Speakers?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • How long?
  • Who will come?
  • How much will they pay?

Chapter 9 – Getting Quoted in the Media

Being quoted in the media is a way of having the media endorse you as an expert. There are a few common mistakes that people make with the media are:

My objective is to promote my firm – that is the larger goal but the key is to get the reporter a good story.

The process starts with a press release – they are valuable but not your first recourse.

Reporters are primarily interested in facts – Facts are easy to come by if you ask questions so it is actually the story that binds the fact together they are after.

If I help a reporter, I’m entitled to coverage – No you are not. It is normally the editor’s choice to run a story.

You must know your market as you have to sell your story to the media, so research your target, reporters.

Learn to speak quotably:

  • Be brief and decisive
  • Colourful with language
  • Controversiality is appealing
  • Cynicism or hope are good angles for the reporter to use to distinguish the story

Finally, remember that reporters have a different set of obligations and ethical standards from yours.

Part 2 – Sales Tactics – How Professionals Advance and Close a Sale

Part 2 outlines how to turn leads into sales. Most approaches take the following 4 steps:

  • Establish Rapport
  • Get information
  • Give Information
  • Respond to concerns

Chapter 10 – Questioning and Listening

Gaining information is critical. This requires that you ask questions and listen. But the 2 greatest mistakes that sales people make are:

  • Talking too much
  • Describing how they can help before understanding the clients needs.

You can encourage the buyer to give you information with the following:

  • Recognition
  • Empathy
  • Rewards
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Catharsis – Giving them an emotional release

Harding recommends that you plan your questions and has 3 full pages on examples of how the gather the information you need. Remember yo need to be asking the right person!

Listening is clearly as important, if not more so. You must listen to the answer deeply.

You need to listen to:

  • What is said
  • How it is said
  • What is not said

Chapter 11 – Presenting

A presentation is a step on the way to a sale but is only one step on that road.

Planning for each presentation should begin with:

  • Background on the prospect company
  • Background on the people in the audience
  • Background on the situation the company faces
  • Background on what the company needs
  • Review of the presentation format: length scope, content, specific things to cover.
  • Background on the competitions strengths and weaknesses
  • Focus on the benefits.
  • Link your services with the core objectives of the prospect.
  • Use a theme to constantly differentiate your services from others.

Use anecdotes to build the case. A typical anecdote is:

  • Relevant
  • Benefits orientated
  • Brief

Made up of 4 elements:

  • A plot
  • A main character
  • Action
  • An outcome


  • Enthusiasm
  • interest and caring
  • Listening ability
  • Confidence and knowledge


Chapter 12 – Handling Prospect Questions and Concerns

Your prospects will ask questions. This is good as it shows they are listening and engaged.

Harding suggests you use some standard techniques for all questions:

  • Clarify – to gain more information and give you time to think
  • Reassure the client that the question is welcome
  • Be short


The main reason prospects ask questions are:

  • To gather information
  • To gain recognition
  • To advance the conversation
  • To express scepticism
  • To test you

Chapter 13 – Writing a Proposal


When your prospect begins to get serious, they will usually want you to submit a proposal.

This could be to:

  • Clarify his thinking
  • Validate you understanding of the issues
  • Formalises commitment
  • Prove he has been diligent in his selection
  • Test your responsiveness
  • Facilitate comparison

The proposal is a marketing document but it is also legally binding so be careful what you write in there.

Focus on the benefits you offer.

Decide what you should offer to meet the need of the customer.

The main elements of the proposal are:

  • Covering letter
  • Executive summary
  • Project understanding
  • Background on your firm
  • Project outline
  • Deliverables
  • Assurances
  • Timing
  • Fees
  • Authorisation – guidance to the prospect on his next action
  • Appendices for any lengthy elements of information


Chapter 14 – Quoting a Fee

What should you quote?:

  • An hourly rate?
  • Payment = hours worked x rate
  • What the market will bear?
  • What the customer values the work at?

Harding’s advice is to remain flexible and negotiate a sound deal for both you and the prospect.

Chapter 15 – When You Lose a Sale

There will be times when you get rejected…The market is a great teacher and an even better leveller.

When the prospect rings, understand his mindset:

  • He wants to get it over with quickly
  • He doesn’t want to offend
  • He doesn’t want an argument so will pick a reason that is unarguable
  • He wants to maintain yours and his self esteem
  • He may not fully understand the reason
  • He may want to avoid a confrontation

The key here is to get feedback, information as to why you didn’t succeed.

Be gracious in defeat and write a thank you letter. Remorse only gets in the way of the next prospect!

Part 3 – From Tactics to Strategy: What Works and What Doesn’t

Chapter 16 – Simple Strategies That Can Help you Now

Got more output for less effort. This takes Leverage.

Leverage :

  • Use your speech as the basis for an article
  • Give your speech several times
  • Use the same article in several publications
  • Use both for a press release
  • Turn a business contact into a networking contact
  • Use research conducted with a client as a case study, article or speech
  • Use a speech as a training session or vice versa


Chapter 17 – Self-Marketing – Experts Make Themselves

The stars in marketing and branding:

  • Were big producers early on
  • Had an intense interest early on
  • Took care to credential themselves
  • Found ways to improve their services
  • Became specialists

Harding then provides a self assessment form for you to better understand your own star potential.

Chapter 18 – Market-Based Strategies

In this chapter, Harding discusses some of the different marketing approaches. Harding discusses:

  • Cold calling – High cost so focus on the bigger reward clients
  • Publicity – Increases awareness but difficult to target and expensive for a large campaign
  • Relationship marketing – Works best when there is a high repeat purchase rate
  • Networking – very effective and works best if your market is geographically centralised
  • Conferences / Seminars – brings together a large number of like minded people but can be expensive and time consuming to set up
  • Trade associations – tend to be sellers of the same service rather than potential customers
  • Public Speaking / Article writing – Presents you to a large audience and good for brand awareness – Conversation comes later
  • Direct Mail – as a lead generator it can be useful but measure the returns and assess its value

Chapter 19 – Your Firms Strategy and You

Harding classifies business development into 4 categories:

  • Builders – Build relationships over time
  • Artists – Approach Business development as an art form that can’t be managed
  • Miners – Mine existing relationship by cross-marketing
  • Sellers – Sell consulting services in the same way people sell products

Builders – tend to be professional firms that demonstrate professionalism through the age and experience of their staff. Successful in certain markets. eg lawyers, accountants.

Artists – tend to adopt a new marketing approach to each new client. Successful but can be time consuming.

Miners – focus on the needs of their current client and having strong relationships, they get visibility of these needs early.

Sellers – This is a multi stage strategy marketing to a large number of potential customers.

Chapter 20 – Creating a Breakthrough Strategy

A good strategy, implemented diligently will increase your success in the market. if you do what your best competitor does you will gain market share.

The best strategies do more than this. They surpass the performance of your competitors.

Successful rain makers have found ways to avoid or reduce competition in four areas:

  • Markets – look for markets that allow you to specialise and differentiate
  • Services – again unique services can help you differentiate
  • Reputation – Be known for being professional
  • Market Access – develop channels that provide special access

Explore these options by:

  • Brainstorming on Markets and Services
  • Look for marketing voids
  • Break the rules


Overall, Rain Making explores some of the basic marketing strategies and approaches. Perhaps it is a little dated now but there are some fundamental to learn here.  It is worth noting that with the growth of the internet, social media and web 2.0+, in some areas, this book has been superseded by more contemporary texts.

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