Everybody in business, including myself, loves a good dollop of “gravy.” In this context, of course, gravy means business that literally falls in your lap: the prospect who calls to say, “I’m ready to buy,” the customer who contacts you to make another purchase, the order form that arrives with a check in the mail.
What’s wrong with a little gravy? Nothing, as long as it’s consumed in moderation. A little gravy, in fact, is a healthy part of a salesperson’s diet. Leads that arrive as done deals are good for your attitude, and you are entitled to them. As Yankees great Lefty Gomez famously said, “I would rather be lucky than good.”
Unfortunately, some salespeople love gravy too much; they even learn to exist on the stuff. They stop prospecting for business, and they wait for the phone to ring. They live on whatever happens to come in the door. They are devoted followers of the gravy diet. And, sooner or later, the Gravy Diet always leaves them starving.
Why? Because salespeople who live off incoming leads have relinquished ownership of their future and their income. Their success or failure is then driven by factors beyond their scope of control, namely luck, good fortune and a fair wind. Whether they make their sales numbers — and mortgage payment — each month comes down to whether the telephone rings. And that, my friends, is no way to live your life, salesperson or otherwise.
Gravy addicts, take note: You do not control the events that sustain your gravy supply. Customers go out of business. Or they merge. Headquarters relocate. New decision-makers arrive who bring new vendors with them. Budgets are cut.
In short, you lose business through no fault of your own. These are events beyond your scope of control — yet they occur with regularity. Each time they do, one of only two things happens: Either you get a new customer to replace them, or your income decreases. The elephant in the selling room is this: If you have no method of replacing lost business or, worse, you are apathetic about it, you will eventually run out of gravy.
Having worked with thousands of sales people, I can tell you there is a great mental divide between high-sales achievers and the rest of the selling population when it comes to the subject of gravy.