Many Native American cultures, especially those in the desert conditions of the American Southwest, depended on rainmakers' magical powers to bring rain for nourishing crops and feeding the people. The Hopi believed that the mischievous Kokopelli character could summon water whenever he played his flute. Without the rain, the people would eventually starve or have to move somewhere else.

Modern business owners and leaders also depend on their rainmakers-those people in an organization who bring in revenue-for their survival. Any organization, regardless of size or profit status, must constantly seek and retain new customers in order to thrive. Reaching your 2005 New Year's revenue resolutions depends directly on your company's rainmaking skills of getting and keeping new customers. Following are three tips for customer acquisition and retention that will create a downpour of revenue.

Treat Everybody like a Potential Customer
If you want to become a rainmaker for your company, the first thing you must remember is that virtually anyone can generate business for you. Everybody can eventually become a customer, or refer a customer, or recommend a customer, or encourage a potential customer.

Making rain requires treating non-customers with the same courtesy and respect as customers. Kokopelli's playful, courteous manner evokes smiles from everyone he comes into contact with. You must view all people as influential, because business often comes from unexpected places.

A laminated paper salesperson had a great relationship with a receptionist for a chewing gum manufacturer. Although she was not involved in buying the paper, the salesperson always treated her respectfully and courteously. Many other salespeople pressured the receptionist, but not this salesperson.

Fifteen years later, the receptionist became the executive vice president of the company and remembered the polite treatment she had received from the salesperson. She awarded the laminated paper company their biggest account and never considered any competitors.

Segment Your Potential Customers
Although rainmakers treat absolutely everybody with the courtesy due a potential customer, they also realize that they should not invest the same amount of time and energy into all prospects equally. If Kokopelli is going to help his people survive by bringing much needed rain, he must spend most of his time in the desert Southwest, where additional rain is needed most.

Where and how you spend your time is critical for marketing and selling. You must identify your ideal customer profile, so that you end up talking with customers who are familiar with your product or service or who have a very high probability of using your product or service. Don't waste your time trying to convince vegetarians to buy steaks.

In addition, big companies are generally better revenue targets than small ones in the same industry. Successful customers are generally better to pursue than struggling customers, who may not have the resources to purchase your product.

Proactively Respond to Your Customers
The third key for rainmakers is to always be proactive and ready to meet their customers' needs. Kokopelli always has his flute at the ready, able to call forth the rain whenever needed. You must have impeccable follow-up, stay on top of the small details, anticipate what customers need, and then provide solutions before ever being asked. Before they even have a chance to think about what another vendor could provide-you must proactively respond to your customer's needs quickly, dependably, and consistently.

I learned the importance of proactive and responsive service selling to cardiovascular surgeons. I could never tell a CV surgeon, "I might be able to get that oxygenator to you by Monday." When a patient was on the table for a quadruple bypass, the only acceptable response was, "We'll have it there if I have to borrow it from another hospital and drive it there myself." The surgeon knew his or her patient's life could depend on my response, and if any other vendor could deliver when I couldn't, I was done-forever! If you approach customer responsiveness with that sense of urgency, you'll build your reputation, lose far fewer customers, and gain a lot of new business.

Being proactive and responsive also requires having a follow-up system in place to find, reach, organize, and track customers. Popular contact management software can assist you in knowing who your customers are, what their preferences are, how to reach them easily, and when the next contact should take place.

Rainmaking was essential to the survival and well-being of Native American cultures, just like customer acquisition and retention is for your business. Although Kokopelli may not bring you any additional sales revenue in 2005, applying these three rainmaking tips will.

Author's Bio: 

George Ludwig is a recognized authority on sales strategy and peak performance psychology. An international speaker, trainer, and corporate consultant, he is currently the president and CEO of GLU Consulting. He helps clients like Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, Northwestern Mutual, CIGNA, and numerous others improve sales force effectiveness and performance.

Though it's George's strategies and processes that help corporations increase productivity and performance, it's his tremendous energy and dynamism that spark the transformation. Again and again, clients remark on his amazing ability to unleash human capacity and inspire men and women to break out of their comfort zones. The result is a whole new type of salesperson.

George is the best-selling author of “Power Selling: Seven Strategies for Cracking the Sales Code” and “Wise Moves: 60 Quick Tips to Improve Your Position in Life & Business.” He’s also a columnist and frequent contributor to Entrepreneur magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, and numerous business radio programs. Having gained a reputation as a thought leader in his industry, he is frequently interviewed for trade publications and newspapers.

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