The Rainmaker, A Sales Perspective Review

Or strictly speaking, ‘John Grisham’s The Rainmaker’. This gives it away a little, as this film looks at face value like it’s all about a newly-qualified, working-class-boy-making-good lawyer, who takes on the might of an unscrupulous insurance company, over wrongful claim denial for his first case.

Don’t believe the sleeve notes – it’s a sales masterclass.

I have to say, it’s a belter of a movie in its own right – David v Goliath, half courtroom-drama, heart-string tugs, wet-behind-ears mentoring by a street-wise hustler…

So, just to confirm, Matt Damon has to generate his own ‘fees’, can keep as ‘commission’ one-third of all said fees and receives a draw with the balance due by either side at the end of each month. Sound familiar?

The big deal being pursued is the Great Benefit insurance company paying out, but to pay the bills, smaller deals still need to be won.

Now convinced this is a movie about a sales guy, what little reminders can it give us?

Two major areas come across. The things you should do in front of people shine out at you, but first let’s look at the general process fundamentals:

  • Think about intelligent prospecting. Danny DeVito pops along to hospitals to sign-up accident victims, from names ‘thoughtfully’ provided by his boss from police reports.  Granted, ambulance chasing may not be apt for us all, but can it fire off ideas?
  • These ‘prospects’ come from a contact of the boss, and both appear to win from the sharing of info. Many sales writers preach the benefits of clubbing together with other salesreps, where you all sell to the same type of people, but not competing at all. Great idea to swap potential customer names and info in this way.
  • In fact, DeVito is always on the prowl for prospects, even ‘smokestacking’ a potential teenage claimant (“stick of gum, kid?”).
  • Remember the buzz of the chase – “there’s nothing more thrilling than nailing an insurance company”. Landing that big fish is indeed awesome.
  • Think of how to use every little piece of info, no matter how tiny or initially innocuous. Matt Damon makes notes too. And generally records everything.
  • Don’t get hung up on the personal aspects of not winning the business. You do not necessarily have to fight the fear of losing your dignity and self-respect!
  • Nerves are fine. The first time in the lion’s den of the courtroom was dodgy, but you overcome it.
  • Don’t be afraid to set competitor traps. This doesn’t mean slagging them off, it means getting them led down the garden path. I love this kind of stuff and “Billy Porter” lights up a cracker here.

Then there are the tactical, one-on-one requirements:

  • Trust is essential.
  • Remember to speak to everyone that has an opinion. Giving a photo to the Dad was a great touch…
  • Pause. Then Pause again. Then Pause some more. The added impact this adds to your vital points is stunning.
  • Repetition is good.
  • The star pair’s work ethic is great; Damon asleep at his desk in the early hours, DeVito being asked “don’t you ever sleep?”
  • Isolate the key criteria on which the decision swings. (Bone marrow procedure legitimacy here)
  • Outstanding Presentation Skills highlight and leave behind the killer error of the insurance company writing “You must be stupid, stupid, stupid.” (Better on widescreen). I always like to scribble all over flip-chart pads and leave a ‘message’ behind when I’ve left.
  • Matt Damon never interrupts someone in his sale.
  • Wonderful closing technique when the prospect complains about the 2 pages of terms and conditions to say what it is apparently just 2 sentences. Note that Trust got him through.
  • The best ‘impact points’ in your case are when they are stated by other people on your behalf.
  • A barrage of questions constantly come from Matt Damon’s mouth.
  • Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble, and don’t be afraid to stand your ground.
  • Matt Damon genuinely cares about the people he is dealing with, and when it shows, he gets results.
  • Don’t try and shoot all your bullets. In the courtroom, the Killer Evidence is left until the very end. I know a handful of firms that only reveal their most gilt-edged when the Chief Exec’s pen is hovering over the order form.

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