The RainmakerVT Story
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The RainmakerVT Story

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The story of the genesis of RainmakerVT, the world's first interactive virtual sales training for lawyers.

The story of the genesis of RainmakerVT, the world's first interactive virtual sales training for lawyers.

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The RainmakerVT Story The RainmakerVT Story Presentation Transcript

  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.The RainmakerVT Story (so far) mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.I never set out to train lawyers to market and sell.Like much of many of our careers, it was serendipitous. IfDavid Falk hadn’t left ProServ to set up his own sportsmarketing agency, taking with him Michael Jordan and astable of other NBA stars and, therefore, a big chunk ofProServ’s cash flow, with him, I might never have done any ofthis.In 1991, while working at ProServ, a prominent sportsmarketing agency of that era, I sold a tennis sponsorship tothen-ascendant (now-defunct) Howrey & Simon, through aWashington, DC law firm marketing consultant who wasrebranding the firm. Shortly after Mr. Falk’s departure forgreener fields, many of us recognized the impact of that andsaw that it would soon be time to find something else to do mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.for a living.Over lunch, the consultant said to me, “Here’s a problem youmight be interested in. The managing partners of all theselaw firms I work with tell me that they have partners whoknow everybody, who have Golden Rolodexes, but don’tbring in business.”Astonished, I clarified, “You’re telling me that these peoplecan get their calls returned at the top, can get in the rightroom, and don’t bring in business? This is too easy. We canfix this by tomorrow.”I interviewed a number of his clients to get a handle on thecultural “look and feel,” then built my training mousetrap andwe went to market. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.From the beginning, it was a very intimate, customized one-on-one coaching relationship that produced dramatic results.Over the years, as I became much more familiar with what itmeant to practice law, my training philosophy evolved,becoming much less corporate and much more akin to lawpractice.Eventually, I got to where I based everything on a litigationanalogy. It got so simplified that we declared that the lawyersdidn’t have to learn any new skills; in their law practice theyalready had mastered every skill needed. All they had to dowas apply those skills to the business acquisition challenge,i.e., before they got hired, in exactly the same way theyapplied them after they’d been hired. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.Sidebar: I’ve always been a process-oriented person, so Icreated standalone process modules for many of thesolutions I devised in real-time in response to a lawyer’simmediate challenge during a coaching call. During the dot-com boom of the late ‘90s, I heard Cisco’s John Chambersdescribe e-learning as “the killer app that will make emaillook like a rounding error.” This aligned well with mymodular, process-orientation. With the help of some localdistance-learning developers, I built my first e-learningprototype using coaching avatars, decision triggers, etc.The conceptual architecture of that early effort is visible inRainmakerVT. Unfortunately, while Chambers’ rosyassessment may yet prove true, in 1997 the legal marketwasn’t ready for e-learning. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.Two casual remarks by clients initiated the thinking thatultimately led to creating RainmakerVT.The first, perhaps 15 years ago, was made by the marketingdirector at a huge Chicago law firm, who said, “Mike, I loveyour training, but we have 1000 lawyers. You can’t train1000 lawyers.”The second occurred more recently, when, after hearing myanswer to what I did for a living, my new acquaintancecasually quipped, “Oh, you make rich lawyers richer.”That one stuck with me. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud of the results we producedtogether, but the ignoble truth was that helping a lawyer raisehis or her annual pay to $800,000 from $700,000, whilecertainly appreciated by the lawyer in an abstract way, wasn’tgoing to change his or her life meaningfully.Fast forward to mid-2009.Bored with the static nature of BigLaw, and the paucity ofstrategic discourse (despite the industry undergoing the mostwrenching, seismic change in its history), I closed my trainingconsultancy and, in desperate need to get myself back intothe idea stream, I set out to investigate “innovation.” mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.That was truly stimulating. You can’t imagine how much youlook forward to each day when you’re studying electricvehicles, solar roadways, sustainable construction andrenewable materials, the convergence of entertainment andmobile computing, etc.Coincidentally, a former client, Craig Levinson, had, at thesame time left his job at JAMS to find something moreinteresting to do. We’d been successful in our two previouscollaborations training partners at his firms, we traded ideasand concepts in the hope that we could create somethingworthwhile together. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.In the course of my intellectual meanderings, one dayFred Wilson (a VC in NY whose blog and comments a friendat Google had suggested I follow in case I needed to raisemoney some day) wrote a blog post aboutThe Monster in Your Head, a blog by Jerry Colonna, who asa VC had been Fred’s partner, and who had since reinventedhimself as life/executive coach for startup founders andexecutives.Jerry’s post included an excerpt from Soul Dance, by BillPlotkin, titled, “The Survival Dance and The Sacred Dance:” mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.“Each of us,” writes Plotkin, “has a survival dance and asacred dance, but the survival dance must come first. Oursurvival dance, a foundational component of self-reliance, iswhat we do for a living—our way of supporting ourselvesphysically and economically…Everybody has to have asurvival dance. Finding and creating one is our first task uponleaving our parents’ or guardians’ home.Once you have your survival dance established, you canwander, inwardly and outwardly, searching for clues to yoursacred dance, the work you were born to do. This work mayhave no relation to your job. Your sacred dance sparks yourgreatest fulfillment and extends your truest service to others.You know you’ve found it when there’s little else you’d ratherbe doing. Getting paid for it is superfluous. You would gladlypay others, if necessary, for the opportunity.” mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.That struck a resonant chord.I had mastered my survival dance, but remained clueless(and unfulfilled) about my sacred dance. That explainedmuch of my pattern of success-followed-by-dissatisfactionthroughout my many careers. While each venture initiallywas intellectually stimulating while I figured out the newpuzzle, each also failed even to lightly brush up againstanything resembling a sacred dance.I shared Colonna’s blog post with Craig, and was happy tosee that it resonated with him in as big a way. We decided tomake sure that during our search for our next survival dancewe would remain particularly alert for signs of sacred dancecomponents, or at least an evolutionary path to it. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.In the course of using LinkedIn to connect with those whomight shed light on our journey, we noticed a fatal flaw inLinkedIn’s introduction scheme, one that guaranteed that itcouldn’t work as intended.As it turned out, one of the principles of my salesmethodology contained a reliable solution to that, so we setout to fix LinkedIn. The potential sacred dance element wasin the form of connecting, much more effectively andefficiently, unemployed or under-employed workers withthose needing their skills.If we could do that, we could have a positive effect on USunemployment and the attendant “misery index” of thoseanxious about their professional- and financial futures. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.While seeking a technology partner to build what weenvisioned, I visited a company who offered a robust virtualtraining platform. Looking closely at their product, I realizedthat we were having the wrong conversation.I told them, “Depending which source you believe, there arebetween 500,000 and 900,000 US lawyers practicing solo orin firms of ten or fewer. They couldn’t afford to hire me, and Icouldn’t afford to sell to them. With virtual training, we canbuild a scalable solution and bring proven training to them forcoffee money.”At that moment, we pivoted, and RainmakerVT was born, atleast in concept. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.The most significant event for us, though, occurred a fewmonths later when we hosted a focus group lunch for solos tolearn how they were going to market now, what they spenttheir marketing dollars on, and how well or poorly thatworked.During the discussion, we listened to stories of spendingthousands of dollars on radio, TV, print ads, events, etc.Most sadly admitted that such expenditures produced fewprospects or, worse, prospects that couldn’t afford legal fees.Craig and I made eye contact across the table and it wasclear that we both were thinking the same thing: “How sadthat these lawyers were getting so little return from so muchinvestment when there were so many more effectivestrategies and tactics, many of which were free if you put insome consistent time applying them.” mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.We felt resentful that they were being exploited soegregiously, and unnecessarily. Since it was an intelligence-gathering lunch, we had to resist the powerful urge to go intotraining mode, telling them, “Do this, and this, and this...”(We did, however, invite those present to call us forcomplimentary personal coaching.)At that moment, we knew that we were doing the right thingwith RainmakerVT.I continually update research about how much money solosmake in different parts of the US. Ignoring outliers at eachend, the center of the bell curve suggests a modest-to-comfortable living (about $75k), with little cushion for life’ssetbacks or for children’s college education. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.It’s been observed that most people in the US are onemissed paycheck away from disaster. I don’t know if thatapplies to solo lawyers or not, but it’s hard to imagine thatmost are sanguine about their financial prospects. And that’sin return for having to hustle for business every day.Unlike many of their BigLaw counterparts, for solos,“business development” is no abstraction, i.e., something forwhich one gets a gold star for doing occasionally, but suffersno immediate tangible penalty for not doing at all. For solos,there is true immediacy; these lawyers are at the pointy endof the stick every day.Returning to Plotkin for a moment: mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.“…The first step is creating a foundation of self-reliance: asurvival dance of integrity that allows you to be in the world ina good way—a way that is psychologically sustaining,economically adequate, socially responsible, andenvironmentally sound. Cultivating right livelihood, as theBuddhists call it, is essential training and foundation for yoursoul work; it’s not a step that can be skipped.”Our mission is to give solos and small firm lawyers that“foundation of self-reliance,” in the form of the businessdevelopment skill and virtual experience they need to reliablyget sufficient business to eliminate financial anxiety. If wemanage to do that, we have a decent chance of finding oursacred dance. mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com
  • The worlds first "sales-experience simulator" for lawyers. Rehearse in our Virtual World. Succeed in the Real One.My late father, a lifelong salesman not given to dispensingadvice, offered me one bit of wisdom that sticks with me:“Conduct yourself in such a way that you can walk down thestreet with a potential client, bump into a former client, andleave them alone together for a half-hour without worry.”Mike O’HoroSeptember, 2011 mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com