The Selling Obsession

I've just got back home from The Business Show, a two-day event that takes place every November at the Olympia conference centre in London. It's an event I go to every year, and if you've never been before, then I strongly advise you to visit next year.

Although I find the event to be really useful, and packed full of ideas and innovations that I can use in my everyday work, there is one aspect of the Show that I always find disappointing. And this year was no exception.

To explain, I need to give you some statistics. At this year's show there were an estimated 25,000 visitors, 350 exhibition stands, 170 seminar sessions, 12 masterclasses, plus a whole host of well-known keynote speakers.

There were seminars on every conceivable subject including business start-ups, franchising, exporting, e-commerce, social media, search engine optimisation, public relations, digital marketing, branding, etc, etc.

And likewise, there were hundreds of exhibitors who were all promoting their goods and services related to the various topics listed above. 

What did nearly all of these exhibitors and seminars have in common? The answer is that, either directly or indirectly, all of them were related to attracting new customers and winning business from new sales.

BUT... guess how many seminars were about customer loyalty, customer service, and keeping your existing customers happy? 


Guess how many exhibitors were promoting products directly related to customer service, customer retention, and keeping your existing customers happy?


It was all about sell, sell, sell. Attract new customers; win new customers; increase your sales and profits from new customers. But nothing about keeping your existing customers happy and building their loyalty.

So here is a thought to ponder. Research by Ipsos shows that it is roughly five times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing customer. So why are British businesses so obsessed with chasing new customers, when in many cases they are neglecting the good customers that they've already got?

It just makes no sense at all.