#LMA23: The Rainmaker Genome Project

#LMA23: The Rainmaker Genome Project

By Katherine Hollar Barnard
June 22, 2023 | 3-minute read
Business Development Sales and Networking Techniques Content Type Article
Business of Law
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The following article is a recap of the #LMA23 Conference Session A First Look at a New Scientific Study: The Rainmaker Genome Project presented by Intapp.

Ever wish you could clone your law firm’s top rainmakers? While we may not have that technology (yet), a new study has identified the most effective habits of rainmakers around the world — habits that can be coached to lawyers at all levels.

In a project sponsored by Intapp, DCM Insights surveyed more than 1,500 partners in professional services firms, assessing 108 total attributes, including social networking activity, use of pitch materials, event attendance and strength of individual client relationships. These assessments were then combined with performance data to develop specific models of rainmakers, to assess which are most successful.

The 5 Rainmaker Personas

DCM Insights identified five behavior-based models of professional services rainmakers:

  • Expert: Described as reluctant business developers, experts typically respond to established demand rather than create demand; they look for clients with well-defined needs that match their own capabilities.
  • Confidant: Known for white-glove service, confidants build deep, one-on-one personal relationships with clients, and are typically the most senior individuals within an organization.
  • Activator: Activators create and cultivate strong, multidimensional client networks. In contrast to the confidant, the activator has deep relationships across organizations, including their own firm.
  • Debater: The contrarian of rainmakers, debaters have different views of the world and enjoy challenging clients about the right course of action. They bring innovative solutions but want clients to follow their lead.
  • Realist: Realists earn trust through extreme honesty and transparency. They are comfortable telling clients and prospects no, and openly discuss budgets, fees and other terms.

The Rainmaker Population and Most Effective Types

Within the legal sector, most rainmakers were confidants — partners who foster deep personal connection with their clients. Confidants comprised 41% of legal rainmakers, more than double any other category. Activator and realist types came in at 16%, expert at 15% and debater at 13% percent.

When habits are combined with performance data, the top performers were activators — partners who build broad personal networks. They accounted for 31.9% of the top performers in the legal sector, followed by realists (28%), confidants (19.2%), experts (11.5%) and debaters (9.5%).

What This Means for Your Firm

Presenters Ted McKenna and Lavinia Calvert emphasized the study focused on habits and activities, not personalities — thus, rainmakers may be made, not born.

“Irrespective of what your personality might be, you have the ability to engage in some of these activities and act like an activator, even if you yourself are not an activator,” McKenna said.

Law firms should train, coach and reward the three leading traits of high-performing activators:

  • Connection: Activators work to expand the number of contacts in their networks. They often have a robust following on LinkedIn, where they regularly post and comment. Offline, they consistently attend business events, and complement face time with follow-up calls and meetings. They proactively look for ways to cross-sell their clients to colleagues within the firm.
  • Creation: Activators create their own opportunities. They reach out to clients to share regulatory, economic and legal trends, and suggest new ways to work together.
  • Cadence: Activators are consistent; they dedicate time for business development every week. They are immersed in follow-up and track their marketing activity in the firm CRM.

Still Time to Participate

DCM Insights continues to examine top performers and their business development activity. Visit their website to learn more.

#LMA23 Conference Recordings Now Available

Did you miss out on attending the LMA 2023 Annual Conference? You can still take advantage of the high-impact #LMA23 educational content by purchasing the conference recordings to view on demand! Geared towards marketers of all levels, and mapped to the domains, skills and competencies outlined in the Body of Knowledge (BoK), those interested can now purchase the recordings bundle, which unlocks exclusive access to select recordings only available to bundle purchasers, or individual recordings. Click here to learn more and purchase.

Katherine Hollar Barnard
Firesign Marketing

Katherine (Katie) Hollar Barnard founded Firesign to assist legal industry clients in attracting, winning and retaining business. With over a decade of experience at top law firms, she builds brands and business plans that establish connections and achieve results. Her expertise spans marketing and the broader business of law, encompassing resource allocation, staff management and technology implementation. Katie also provides guidance on leadership transitions, mergers and acquisitions, and office operations.