When I was a young associate an eternity ago, my firm held an internal seminar on developing new business. Almost every associate attended, with pen and notebook ready to write down the means by which riches would be obtained. The top rainmaker stood up and said, “The best source of new business is…..” And then he waited, a long time really, until the silence was so acute you could hear the proverbial pin drop. After a suitably long pause, he finished “….old business.” Ta-da! We all looked on in stunned disbelief. How would new business from old business help any of us become rainmakers? In point of fact, it wouldn’t. At least not then.

That lesson, which pops into my head ever time I deal with the phone company, the cable company, and all those other companies that give better deals to new customers than they do to old customers, has served me well over time. There are so many firms or lawyers that put much more effort into winning new clients than they do into making old clients happy. They are missing the boat. Old clients not only can give you more business, they are (or should be) your best source of referrals.

The moral of the story? People are going to focus on new business–it is a part of our DNA. But do not do so at the expense of ensuring your current clients. Indeed, it is essential to make sure you are capable of wow-ing current clients before shifting focus.