“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver, and the other’s gold.” This verse comes from a Girl Scouts’ song. Considering that Girls Scouts sell an average of 700 million dollars annually in cookies, it is a short leap to apply their wisdom to business development. This verse’s insight easily translates to building a customer base and revenue streams. Essentially, new customers are great. Old customers are better! Furthermore, old customers are more cost-effective, more loyal, and thanks to referrals – more transferable. So, how do you acquire better precious metals so that your business can enjoy more currency?
Every single customer that any enterprise has ever acquired was a new customer in the beginning. A business can launch without customers, but it cannot sustain itself without them. Likewise, when mining for silver, a prospector would bring tools, time, and energy to the effort of acquiring it. Silver miners go from rock formation to rock formation seeking any clue that silver is embedded. Once they find it and mine it, they start looking for the same characteristics in similar formations so that they can unearth more silver. Similarly, new customers often look like other customers, and you find them in similar places. A market niche emerges upon finding success among the same customer profiles in similar environments. Just like upon hording more silver, prospectors experience more success. Discoveries are secured and celebrated. But is that the best use of mining skills? And, does anyone really knows what a silver miner yells when he discovers an untapped source?
Eureka!!! Everyone knows what a gold miner shouts upon striking gold. Gold miners exclaim their excitement and treat their finding as an old friend. They return to the source regularly to maximize as much value as they can extract. They fiercely protect their discovery. They are careful to avoid anything unexpected from happening to their stake. Unsurprisingly, successful sales professionals treat established customers the same way. They acknowledge that old customers have larger market value than new customers. Because old customers are more flexible, successful sales professionals find more ways to serve and engage them; much like gold is easily shaped for more uses. For example, established customers make better referrals, give superior testimonials, and remain resilient after experimenting with new products. Old customers, similar to known gold veins, attract competition so they do require more work to keep. But each vein that produces faithfully is worth the extra effort. Most importantly, legacies are established based on skillful gold miners and sales professionals. Gold mines and loyal customers both create fortunes for their enterprise across generations.
Gold miners arrive and stay. Silver miners are more transient. Gold attracts more supplemental entities to support them. Levi Strauss initially provided denim pants for gold miners, and never left! Overall, more value results through gold. “Make new friends, but keep the old.” New ideas, new industries, new technologies to process transactions too often come and eventually are replaced. But the enduring relationships behind an old customer become engrained in an enterprise and the trust yields long-term value.
“One is silver, and the other’s gold”. The greater value is in the carefully nourished, established relationships. Savor the predictability of established customers. Protect it, nourish it. Gold endures. It survives changing regimes, new owners, and natural catastrophes. And so does well-served, established customers.
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond