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How To Get Great At Getting Business


by Mo Bunnell, author of “The Snowball System: How to Win More Business and Turn Clients into Raving Fans

“When it comes to business development, you’ve either got it or you don’t.”

This line of thinking is one of my biggest pet peeves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the “you’ve either got it or you don’t” argument from someone about to begin training. It’s crap. In fact, it’s harmful. Sure, like any complex skill, some people start the journey with some skills that will help them. But the craft of business development is broad and deep, and any rainmaker worked very hard to become great.

When we see great rainmakers in action, the skills can seem so advanced they look like magic. But what you don’t see is the rainmaker working on a growth strategy. You don’t see the rainmaker struggling to adapt to someone that thinks differently than them. You don’t see the rainmaker writing down a list of core relationships to maintain — and then keeping in touch with them.

To help get you get started on your path to mastering the craft of business development, here are the three fundamental lists from my book,The Snowball System. Create and update these three lists. Act on them. If you do that, you’ll dramatically grow your book of business.

1. The Protemoi List.

Protemoi (pro΄-tuh-moy) is Greek for “first among equals.” Your Protemoi List will help you invest in your most important relationships, whether you are working with them right now or not. Ultimately some people are more important to your book of business than others — your long-term success depends on this group. The Protemoi List captures those names and keeps them front of mind.

Most high-level professionals will tell you that relationships are the most important contributor to sales success, yet they don’t systematically prioritize and invest in them. All too often they just try to juggle this stuff in their heads. Guilty of this yourself? You’re driving to work when you suddenly think, “I need to email Karim!” Then something comes up, and the email never gets sent. Five years go by, and Karim is named CEO. Now it looks pretty cheesy to email him. “Hey, remember me? The person who didn’t keep in touch? Uh, I just saw you’re now in a buying position at a client of mine. Want to go have lunch so I can tell you about what we do?”

There’s a better way. Write down a short list of your most important relationships. Keep it short — the right size is the number of people you can proactively add value to once a month.

2. The Asset List.

Assets can be anything helpful or interesting to your Protemoi people. Although many people think of business items first, anything that adds value can work great. Value can take many forms — a business book suggestion, an introduction to someone in your network, or an invitation to brainstorm on a problem they’re having over coffee. When you add value to an interaction through a tangible item like this, we call it an Asset.

When you diligently maintain your Asset List, providing value to your Protemoi people will take only a moment’s browsing. Add ideas now to get things started, but after that, simply leave your list open during the day and get in the habit of adding to it as items pop up. I usually recommend adding value to your Protemoi with an Asset about once a month. Do that, and before you know it, opportunities will start popping up. You’ll be top of mind and remembered as being helpful.

Now, you’re going to need a process to move the opportunities forward.

3. The Opportunity List.

The Opportunity List is how you track where potential sales are in the process. Rainmakers follow a step-by-step process. They have to. Anyone with a little luck can get lightning to strike once. But getting lightning to strike regularly demands acres of well-maintained lightning rods.

The proven approach that follows is linear and sequential, meaning it goes through the same stages in the same order each time. But unlike most sales processes, this one isn’t from your point of view, it’s from the buyer’s. If you look at the buying process through the eyes of the prospect, the correct next move always becomes clear.

First, you have to listen and learn. The client must feel truly understood before they can comfortably move to the next step. Give the client or prospect plenty of opportunity to talk about themselves and the problems they’re facing.

Second, you must create curiosity. Now that they feel understood, turn the spotlight on yourself and get them curious about how you can help solve their problems. Reflect the situation in their words instead of falling back on generic industry lingo.

Third, start building everything together. Make it easy for the prospect to collaborate in designing the solution with you. People place more value on things they’ve had a hand in building. The research around this mental shortcut is amazing — it’s called the IKEA effect because people that build their own things value them more than if they received them already put together.

Lastly, you’re finally ready to gain approval. Thanks to the psychology behind this process, the final sign-off should be the easiest and fastest step. After all, you’ve built incremental buy-in during the preceding steps, with potentially dozens of incremental “approvals” along the way. This is just the final one.

Now that you know the process, use the opportunity list to track where your potential sales are in this sequence. What you need to do next will be obvious.

Start with 15 minutes and write down a start to each of these lists. Starting small is the key beginning. Add to them as ideas come to you. Then, schedule time to review and revise them weekly.

It’s freeing that rainmakers aren’t born with the skills they need. Anyone can improve at bringing in more business. Master these skills, follow the process without fail, and you’ll close more deals. Rainmaking doesn’t require magic, it requires a well-tuned machine.


Mo Bunnell is the Founder and CEO of Bunnell Idea Group, who has taught sales skills to over 12,000 people. You can learn Mo’s other techniques for growing influence in his new book, “The Snowball System: How to Win More Business and Turn Clients into Raving Fans“.