Review: How to become a rainmaker by Jeffrey J. Fox

Review: ‘How to become a rainmaker’ by Jeffrey J. Fox

Jeffrey J. Fox is an American businessman and owner of management consulting firm Fox & Company. His book, ‘How to become a rainmaker’ has proven successful in helping individuals ‘dollarize’ their services. He claims his book holds ‘The rules for getting and keeping customers and clients’.

Fox’s easy-to-read book comprises of 50 short chapters, each with a different lesson or ‘killer sales question’.  These lessons range from simple rules, such as always return a phone-call, to more in-depth instructions like how to dollarize your service. Fox includes memorable and amusing anecdotes, such as chapter XXVI – ‘Everybody is Somebody’s Somebody’. Here, he tells the story of a rude man yelling at a waitress in a diner, and the son of a businessman recognising him. The son’s four friends all told their fathers, who were doctors, not to do business with the man from then on. These cautionary tales are followed with a moral message – in this case to treat everyone kindly for you never know who they are.

Fox details throughout what a rainmaker does and does not do, their character traits, and the ways in which they live their lives. They never ‘dress down’, for example, they make use of business cards and they prejudge situations. Similarly, the reader is enlightened to the classic customer’s state of mind throughout the buying process.

Fox encompasses much of the advice that we follow – placing value in good manners, taking the time and effort to fully understand the customer’s requirements and needs, and putting them first. He speaks to his audience in an interactive way, telling the reader, for example, to open the book at random, put their finger one a section and to do what is written.

Yet, there are some parts of Fox’s approach which we’re not too sure about. Throughout the whole book, there isn’t a mention of why he is selling what he sells. Sure, he outlines how his products and services can benefit the customer, especially the money they will save, but there appears to be a lack of good reason for his role besides money. Perhaps the fact that the book is 10 years old plays into this, but nowadays most people seem to value a deeper reason behind a product, rather than just how much it will save them. Just take a look at BBCs ‘Dragon Den’ – yes, the potential investors are concerned about the ROI, but their number one question is often why have you set up this product? What is the reason behind it? Perhaps Fox does not believe this to be important for his customers, but we think explaining the deeper meaning behind a product or service is something all salespeople should be doing.

Speaking of ‘salespeople’, that is exactly who this book is designed for. In our eyes, ‘Rainmakers’ can be CEOs, prominent businesspeople, or anybody who is able to make an extraordinary amount of money. But Fox’s lessons only really apply to salespeople, and his use of rainmaker may be misleading for non-salespeople wanting to learn the lessons.

Fox’s approach seems, at times, a little too harsh for our liking. His chapter entitled ‘Earthquakes don’t count’ concerningly has the message that any problems which may affect your ability to ‘bring in the business’ are excuses. He uses the example of a Californian sales team missing its quota due to a disruptive earthquake and therefore being reprimanded by the brand manager. Does this ‘no excuses’ mindset extend to physical and mental illnesses, bereavement, and unchangeable circumstances? In an age where employee satisfaction should be at the forefront of any business, this is a little unsettling.

All things considered, Fox’s book contains valuable lessons for salespeople looking to increase their revenue. Although perhaps not as balanced as we’d like, Fox conveys an upbeat, motivational tone throughout the book, and often encourages the reader that they’ll be getting closer to becoming a ‘rainmaker’.

Source: Fox (2000: Vermilion)