Making Rain: The Secrets of Building Lifelong Client Loyalty

Overview

Praise for Making Rain

"An entertaining and practical guide to building lifelong client loyalty, Making Rain is profoundly insightful as well as motivating. A must-read for all professionals who aspire to distance themselves from their competitors by growing client relationships that are stronger, deeper, and more valuable-for them and for their clients."
-Dale Gifford, Chief Executive, Hewitt Associates

"Few understand the advice business like Andrew Sobel, and his well-written...

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Overview

Praise for Making Rain

"An entertaining and practical guide to building lifelong client loyalty, Making Rain is profoundly insightful as well as motivating. A must-read for all professionals who aspire to distance themselves from their competitors by growing client relationships that are stronger, deeper, and more valuable-for them and for their clients."
-Dale Gifford, Chief Executive, Hewitt Associates

"Few understand the advice business like Andrew Sobel, and his well-written book, Making Rain, is overflowing with insight and sage advice on how to create value for clients and earn their enduring loyalty."
-Jim Robbins, Chief Executive, Cox Communications

"This is a book that is both fascinating and fun. Brilliantly written, meticulous in detail, and penetrating in analysis-anyone who wants to master the art of being a professional advisor will benefit from it."
-Sir Brian Pitman, Senior Advisor to Morgan Stanley and former chairman, Lloyds TSB Group

"In a world where managers seem to churn over more frequently than inventories, Andrew Sobel's new book, Making Rain, is a welcome respite, a savvy guide to lasting client and customer relationships."
-Stan Davis, author, It's Alive and Blur

"Making Rain appeals to everyone in business, not just in professional services. Andrew Sobel highlights how the interaction of relationships, longevity of trust, innovative ideas, and expertise combine to produce results and long-term loyalty. An excellent read that is full of insights."
-Sir Win Bischoff, Chairman, Citigroup Europe

"In Making Rain, Andrew Sobel demonstrates a deep understanding of how resilient client relationships are formed and why some professionals are pulled in closer and closer by their clients while others, just as skilled technically, do not establish such relationships. His description of the attributes of extraordinary advisors is a must-read for leaders of professional services firms."
-Steven B. Pfeiffer, Chairman, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Whether business leaders want a steady drizzle or an out-and-out monsoon, they can use Sobel's formula for landing and keeping customers - what he calls "making rain." Based on building relationships, it starts with the key components of knowledge, service and demonstrable value; these are the building blocks that attract clients, says business adviser Sobel (Clients for Life). In this straightforward manual, he gives practical strategies to help leaders of service firms and large corporations alike become indispensable advisers to their clients, thus cementing a long-term connection. The principles behind his tactics are simple: get to know your client, gain respect for your knowledge and win personal respect. Then, drive it home by delivering above and beyond, again and again. These ideas are old as dirt. Sobel reaches across centuries to dig up examples of their success, from Aristotle to Ben Franklin. He buffs up these ageless notions and places them within engaging anecdotes. Altl1Ough the lessons aren't strokes of genius, they should help professionals through most dry spells. —Agent, Helen Rees. (Feb. 14) (Publishers Weekly, February 2003)

The grand visions of the new economy encouraged many consultants to adopt an impatient and dictatorial manner. With little regard for their clients' cultures or competencies, they often urged companies to adopt ambitious strategies and transform their organizations. But in this follow-up to Sobel's coauthored Clients for Life, we get a refreshing reminder that sheer brainpower and eloquence are less important than we might thing. Sobel tells his fellow consultants that to win repeat business, they should focus on building relationships with clients and leveraging the resources at hand. He regards relationship building not as a necessary chore but as the foundation for advancing all truly useful advice-only by gaining clients' complete trust, he insists, can consultants hope to have any influence. And he says that rather than driving new ideas, consultants should aim at adding sophistication and depth to clients' existing ideas and capabilities. To keep from dominating the conversation, he points out, consultants need to be secure with themselves about their necessarily limited role. While slavish adherence to this modest prescription could lead to organizational stagnation - and leave consultants vulnerable when companies change leaders - it's a sensible starting point in today's chastened economy. (Harvard Business Review, March 2003)

Publishers Weekly
Whether business leaders want a steady drizzle or an out-and-out monsoon, they can use Sobel's formula for landing and keeping customers-what he calls "making rain." Based on building relationships, it starts with the key components of knowledge, service and demonstrable value; these are the building blocks that attract clients, says business adviser Sobel (Clients for Life). In this straightforward manual, he gives practical strategies to help leaders of service firms and large corporations alike become indispensable advisers to their clients, thus cementing a long-term connection. The principles behind his tactics are simple: get to know your client, gain respect for your knowledge and win personal respect. Then, drive it home by delivering above and beyond, again and again. These ideas are old as dirt. Sobel reaches across centuries to dig up examples of their success, from Aristotle to Ben Franklin. He buffs up these ageless notions and places them within engaging anecdotes. Although the lessons aren't strokes of genius, they should help professionals through most dry spells. Agent, Helen Rees. (Feb. 14) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471264590
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/31/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 799,792
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

ANDREW SOBEL is a leading authority on the skills and strategies required to build enduring client relationships. A noted business strategist and popular speaker, his clients have included such prominent companies as Citigroup, Cox Communications, Fulbright & Jaworski, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Hewitt Associates. He is coauthor of the acclaimed book Clients for Life, as well as dozens of articles on relationship building and loyalty. Formerly a senior vice president of one of the world's largest management consulting firms, he is now President of Andrew Sobel Advisors, a strategy consulting and professional development firm. He earned his BA at Middlebury College and holds an MBA from Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Learning to Make Rain All of the Time.

PART I: BREAKING THROUGH AS AN EXPERT.

The Loyalty Equation: Three Factors That Determine Your Client's Loyalty.

Are You an  Extraordinary Advisor?

Breakthrough Strategies for Experts.

Building Trust in the First Ten Minutes.

More Important than Your 401(k): Building Your Relationship Capital.

Benjamin Franklin's Secret Weapon.

Why a Client Might Like You.

The Myth of Meeting Client Expectations.

Leonardo da Vinci: Why Lutes and Madonnas Matter.

Finding the Hidden Creases: Influencing Your Clients.

Part One Summary: Are You Breaking Through as an Expert?

PART II: MOVING INTO THE INNER CIRCLE.

I Love My Guru…and Other Client Pitfalls.

The Relationship Masters.

The Doubting Mind.

The Deep Generalist and the Branded Expert.

How to Identify Client Needs.

The Power of Size: Developing Large, Multi-Year Client Relationships.

The Right Foot: Four Ways to Start a Relationship and Position It for the Long Term.

Five Ways to Grow Your Client Relationships.

Are Clients Meeting Your Expectations?

Part Two Summary: Are You Moving into the Inner Circle?

PART III: SUSTAINING RELATIONSHIPS YEAR AFTER YEAR.

Sustaining and Multiplying.

Merlin: Working a Little Magic with Your Clients.

Five Steps to New Business with Old Clients.

The Rothschild Bankers: The Power of Unique Capabilities.

Cultivating the Attitude of Independent Wealth.

Managing Client Relationships during Uncertain Times.

Developing Relationships with Foreign Clients: Try Not to Commit These Gaffes.

Becoming a Firm That Makes Rain: How Great Organizations Build Clients for Life.

Part Three Summary: Are You Sustaining Your Relationships Year after Year?

PART V: GETTING STARTED: A SELF-ASSESSMENT.

Do You Have the Ability to Make Rain? Two Assessment Tools for Individuals and Organizations.

A Pantheon of Client Advisors.

Notes.

Index.

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Interviews & Essays

Discovering the Keys to Successful, Long-Term Client Relationships

In 1995, I moved back to the United States after having spent 13 years in Europe as a senior partner with a large international consulting firm. Upon my return, one of the first shocks I received was during the negotiations for a large, multimillion-dollar consulting engagement with a Fortune 500 company. Having bested five other large firms during a grueling RFP (request for proposal) process, I found myself in a hot, stuffy room being interrogated by the client's director of procurement. Was he negotiating the fees for the project? No, he was driving down the expenses -- the hotel, meals, and other out-of-pocket costs of fielding a large group of professionals at the client's offices. I was sure he had been trained by Saddam Hussein himself. "Your consultants can make one long-distance phone call home a week," he snarled at me.

"But they have families," I countered, flabbergasted by the heartlessness of the demand.

"They can write letters home," he countered.

There has to be a better way, I thought, and that incident spurred me to begin investigating the ingredients of successful, long-term client relationships. Over the last seven years, I have interviewed several hundred corporate executives -- including more than 50 CEOs -- about the most valuable consultants, lawyers, bankers, sales executives, and other outside professionals they work with. I've studied the greatest client advisors that lived during the last 3,000 years of history. I've interviewed dozens of leading professional advisors from a variety of fields. And I've also reflected on my own 22 years of experience as a strategy advisor to clients in more than 30 countries. My first book, Clients for Life: Evolving from an Expert for Hire to an Extraordinary Advisor, which I coauthored with professor Jagdish Sheth of Emory University, articulates the seven attributes of extraordinary client advisors. Now, in Making Rain, I have set out the essential ingredients of client loyalty, as well as a great deal of specific how-tos for building these extraordinarily valuable long-term relationships.

Clients, in essence, are loyal to professionals who do three things exceptionally well:

  1. Add value
  2. Build trust
  3. Go the extra mile
Easy to say, hard to do. In Making Rain, I outline three types of value: Core value, surprise value, and personal value. Most professionals concentrate on core value, represented by the contracted-for deliverables ("Cut costs by x%" or "Conduct due diligence on this transaction" or "Install this corporate-wide software system"). Surprise value, however, is when you identify and solve problems that aren't part of your contract. It's when you add value, well, in ways that surprise your client. Personal value is what an individual client may gain from working with you -- it could range from learning about your firm's methodologies to gaining valuable insights from you about the college application process for a teenage son! The most successful professionals think about and consistently deliver "value" in all three of these categories.

A second important set of strategies that you'll learn about in Making Rain addresses the stages of evolution of your client relationships. When you first start work with a client, you need to break through -- you may have a few weeks or months to convince that client that he or she simply must have you back a second time. Then, you need to grow the relationship over time. Next, you're faced with the challenge of sustaining the relationship (as well as others from your past) over the long term. Finally, the most successful professionals enable their best clients to multiply their relationships through various types of collaboration and referrals. Making Rain, which is divided into 28 short chapters, provides a rich set of ideas to help you evolve your relationships through each one of these critical stages of growth. Andrew Sobel

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