Today's business environment is markedly different. Magazines testify to the reinvention of American business, and no less a business leader than Bill Gates titled his latest book Business at the Speed of Thought. Some IT professionals are coping with change by abandoning what's left of traditional corporate culture and going the entrepreneurial route. But working for yourself means marketing yourself, and that's a task for which many computer pros may find themselves unprepared.
Make no mistake: The proliferation of IT certifications and the concomitant increase in available certified professionals make it a trainer-eat-trainer world. If you don't market yourself, someone else will try to take away your best clients. Without paying attention to the "business" end of business, you'll likely end up on the bottom of an IT consultant dog pile.
Marketing, sales, and strategy are the keys
With this image in mind, Ford Harding's book Rain Making: The Professional's Guide to Attracting New Clients is a practical and non-threatening guide to marketing yourself and your organization. Harding makes two strong points in his introduction:
- Marketing yourself and your firm's services is absolutely necessary
- Marketing gets the short shrift in many professional curricula
Marketing, therefore, remains misunderstood and disliked by many technical professionals. Harding’s goal is to change that attitude by providing the skills and knowledge necessary to make marketing easier. He succeeds, making the subject not only understandable, but interesting as well.
The book is divided into three sections:
- Marketing Tactics
- Sales Tactics
- Moving from tactics to strategy
I found the section on Marketing Tactics most interesting. In this section, Harding focuses less on actually selling and more on performing professional activities. In the world of training, your professional activities and your presentation of yourself are invaluable to your business’ success. To support his claim, the author cites an article that appeared in the Harvard Business Review way back in 1966 that states that buyers prefer to buy from a professional who sells rather than a professional salesperson.
The second half of the book focuses on teaching professionals to close sales using the three P's: proposals, presentation, and pricing. This section also reviews basic communication skills, skills beneficial for those of us who communicate primarily through a keyboard.
The exercises presented are an integral part of the book; without doing them, readers will not glean as much benefit. An example of one of the exercises presented is Chapter 17's Personal Evaluation Form, which will help professionals in all disciplines clarify their strengths and focus their market.
Rain Making: The Professional's Guide to Attracting New Clients, by Ford Harding, is a 287 page softcover book, published by Adams in September 1994. The listed retail price is $13.95, but you can purchase it at a discounted price of $11.15 through FatBrain .
My overall view
Although this book isn’t a “new release,” Rain Making: The Professional's Guide to Attracting New Clients is well worth the time invested. The book is worth the additional time it will take to work through it. The ideas, concepts, and tactics are applicable to all training professionals who have to market their training functions, especially you independent training consultants whose livelihood depends on your marketing abilities to sell yourself to a new customer.
If you have a favorite book you’d like to review or have any comments you’d like to make concerning this book review, please post your comments at the bottom of this page.
Bob Potemski, MS, CTT, is a writer and trainer transplanted from New York. He and his five dogs now make their home in the Midwest. Bob has a Bachelor of Science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in counseling from Long Island University. He has spent the last 10 years working in human development.