Beware 'Jam Tomorrow'

I’m involved in 3 sales cycles at the moment that are all suffering from the same distraction.  Jam Tomorrow is a phrase, the origins of which eluded me during those dark, pre-internet days.  In sales circles it simply refers to a hollow promise of more business to come, if you hold on in there, which how ever much the buyer talks it up, never actually happens. 

It apparently comes from Lewis Carroll’s Though the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, in which Alice is offered ‘jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today’.

There are two times Jam Tomorrow rises up to smack you in the face.  The first is to help the buyer’s negotiation efforts for a bigger discount, thinking that they can play off the hope of extra business for discount today.  Never Fall For This Rubbish.

The second is when an initial sales campaign appears to be going so well, that your buyer contact offers to introduce your wares to someone else within the organisation, but who is critically, in a tenuously related area.  What the inexperienced rep does is rub their hands with glee.  ‘What a result it is to have even more people talking about buying from us’ is their naive thinking. This is becuase all this has ever done, in my humble experience, is delay everything, and often leads to no decision being made.

Of the examples I’m currently mixed up in, the real sticky one is where the UK wanted what we have, and thought they’d be able to get Europe to buy it for them.  3 months later we’re still to meet the Europeans and are in danger of seeing the UK priorities move on.  The way to avoid this kind of nonsense is to focus on one part of the pie first, and know you can be like the two bulls in the old story where they spy a field of cows in the distance.  The young one says to the old one, ‘let’s charge in and get ourself a lady’.  The old one retorts, ‘let’s walk over and get them all’.

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