Old Customers: The People-You-Know Sales Strategy3 min read

Old Customers, Friends, Vendors

Old customers, friends, and vendors are a potential gold mine for your business sales. Traditional marketing strategy focuses almost entirely on finding new customers. This is based on reasoning that when you are starting out new customers are the only kind you have and, if you want to sustain a high growth strategy, new customers are required. In many businesses, customer retention, the care and feeding of old customers, is an operational afterthought. Nevertheless, over and over in my work with all types of companies, I am reminded of how valuable the people you already know are to your sales. Repeatedly clients have increased their sales by focusing their marketing strategy and a significant portion of their marketing efforts on maintaining current customers and rekindling old customer relationships. 

They Won’t Buy From You If They Have Forgotten You Exist

Your old clients and customers already know what you do. They have already experienced the level of care and attention you bring to your work. They have demonstrated a need for your products and services. They will remember you and read an email or take your telephone call. They are not a lead but a person prepared to buy again. But, they can’t buy from you if they have forgotten that you exist. Effective marketing to old customers significantly improves your chances that they will not forget you


The last thing you want to do is treat your old friends like cannon fodder for a marketing campaign. You have a relationship with them, it may be dormant, but you do have a relationship. It is based on past value. You helped them out with one of your products or services. So, you need to pick up on the opportunity to rekindle the relationship by providing them with some of that value. In this era, that means providing them with information, ideas, engagement in what interests them, your unique take on the products or services of your field of business. The key here is to provide information that  will interest and engage them.

Lets take a quick example. A small engineering services company makes it a regular practice to touch base with a couple of their old customers or friends each week. This communication takes the form of an email, a telephone call, sometimes a lunch. They  share a story about a technical innovation or question they are working on. Almost always this provokes a conversation about technologies shared between them. The two principals in this firm have learned to do this as a matter of course. They have been rewarded by a continuing flow of conversation in which they learn as much as they give. And, to their initial surprise, their old customers and friends have given them new business or strong leads to new business that come with a solid referral. This marketing strategy focusing on old customers, friends, and vendors has been very successful


Work friends and old vendors can be invaluable to increasing sales. If they worked with you or for you in the past, they are very likely to still be in the same industry, market space, or geography. In any event, they know you and, just like your old customers, they are very likely to want to renew contact to share information, even if just to gossip about old cronies. They are connected to a whole set of people and companies. Engaging them will make it possible for you to extend your web of contacts and influence. The same rules of marketing apply to them as to old customers. An effective marketing program can include work friends and vendors.

Coming in Part Two: Putting the Strategy into action

  • Getting Ready For a People-You-Know Marketing Campaign

  • Required Infrastructure – Your Website – Online Marketing

  • Polish Up Your Elevator Pitch

  • A Background Idea: the involvement funnel

  • Tactics

    Read Part Two here