“Honestly, we find business development success is about thought leadership,” says Rob Sher, CEO of The One Page Business Plan Company.
Successful rainmakers at professional service firms confide to me repeatedly that a book is the number one business development tool and talking about the book is the number one business development strategy. Leveraging the book to speak, even virtually through webinars and podcast interviews, is a secret weapon.
Sher, 58, credits thought leadership of the firm’s late founder, author Jim Horan, and his own two books, for turbocharging rainmaking success on all fronts at his company. Horan’s best-selling book, The One Page Business Plan, sparked a revolution in how corporate America, non-profit organizations, and even independent professionals approach planning.
“Successful rainmaking is about persistence,” says Sher.
“It can be disheartening doing a webinar and not landing dozens of clients right away,” says Sher. “It may bring no immediate clients. But then a year later someone who heard you calls and says, ‘I want to buy.’ So many people give up too early. I don’t think they fully understand that it’s a long game.”
The One Page Business Plan Company is an international consulting firm specializing in planning and performance management systems. The company has over 500 licensed consultants worldwide. According to Sher, its innovative web-based planning and performance management tools “are rapidly becoming the tools of choice for CEOs.”
Before becoming CEO after the death of Horan in 2019, Sher was a top 1 percent One Page Business Plan consultant for over eight years, Sher has written two books, Mighty Midsized Companies: How Leaders Overcome 7 Silent Growth Killers and The Feel Of The Deal, and is a regular columnist on leadership for forbes.com.
Building relationships with potential clients, a rainmaking approach nicknamed The Trojan Horse Strategy, is something Sher discovered as a happy accident.
“My second book, Mighty Midsized Companies, was research-based,” says Sher. “I interviewed 110 different companies, of which two became very large clients by accident. That is because I was asking really good questions for the research and focused on midsized companies, which was my target consulting clients.”
Sher says rainmaking is hard work and it takes perseverance to make it pay.
“Business development success is about doggedly mixing a variety of business development tactics across the spectrum. So, it’s touching through writing, touching through speaking, and ‘picking up the damn phone’ as Jim Horan liked to say.”
In the coming year Sher’s company plans to decrease spending on search engine optimization (SEO) for its website and improving its customer relationship management (CRM). In other words, generating less leads through SEO and then wasting less of the leads generated through other sources.
“The number one thing working for us at The One Page Plan Company is building and improving the series of activities that help filter through people who show initial interest,” says Sher. “We’re doing a lot of improvement in gathering prospects. I also have to say that we’re working hard on diligent use of a CRM. Carefully following up with all our outreach tools so that we don’t leave leads unturned, but on the other hand, not overworking them and wasting their time and ours.”