In the Deep Space Nine episodes of the American television series, Star Trek, we become acquainted with an extraterrestrial race known as the Ferengi. These shrewd and uber-capitalist traders are obsessed with profit and will use any means to get a financial advantage over others.
The Ferengi business philosophy is contained in a set of guiding principles known as “The Rules of Acquisition.” Some of their more benign rules include:
- #13 – Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.
- #80 – If it works, sell it. If it works well, sell it for more. If it doesn’t work, quadruple the price and sell it as an antique.
- #84 – A friend is not a friend if he asks for a discount.
- #107 – A warranty is valid only if they can find you.
- #124 – Friendship is temporary, profit is forever.
- #126 – A lie isn’t a lie, it’s just the truth seen from a different point of view.
- #141 – Only fools pay retail.
- #155 – What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine too.
- #187 – Borrow on a handshake; lend in writing.
- #208 – Give someone a fish, you feed him for one day. Teach him how to fish, and you lose a steady customer.
Quark, the memorable Ferengi bartender, after attending the funeral of a friend, remarked, “They gave him the highest tribute you can give to a person; he was a good customer.”
We all love good customers. They are the life-blood of our business. And we could all use more of them (no Ferengi pun intended).
However, the harsh reality is this: “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust” (Zig Ziglar). At any given time, only about 10% of people are open to the idea of buying your product or service, and just 3% are ready to purchase. So, you have to have great marketing and sales systems to find and win over those few prospects.
Here are eight of Ron’s Rules for Customer Acquisition:
# 7 – Know well your most probable customer. Know who they are, where they are, what they buy, and why they buy. How can your products or services take away their pain or fears? How can you improve their business and/or personal life? Do you know exactly what they want and expect from your company? Ask them if necessary.
#11 – Focus only on your target market. Your target market is the only market that matters to you. Seek to become remarkable and to dominate it! Don’t try to be all things to all people. Concentrate selling activities on the market segment that has the highest probability of purchasing your product or service. Position your offering with laser precision so that you are clearly the best option they have.
#14 – Differentiate your company. What is your unique selling proposition or competitive advantage? Can you set yourself apart with any of the following: exclusive products, features, or benefits; exceptional quality or performance; innovative solutions or technology; extraordinary service; distinctive sales, marketing, or advertising methods; special pricing; extra-fast distribution or delivery; “killer customer care”; strong guarantee or warranty, or perhaps financing or leasing. Find some way to “stand out like a purple cow in a field of brown cows” (Seth Godin).
#19 – Send the right message. Communicate a clear, powerful message that shows why you are unbeatable. There is great power in specifics. Quantify, compare, or demonstrate your advantage or claims. Avoid the mindless fluff. Jim Rohn describes a three-step process to be a master communicator. “First, have something good to say. Second, say it well. And third, say it often.” Focus on the customer’s emotional needs and wants (benefits) and use logic (features) to support it. Discover the essential message that resonates with your potential customers. In a noisy world, your ideal customers will hear your call.
#21 – Advance the relationship by building trust. When working with possible buyers, be yourself—interested, curious, and engaged. Have a real dialog, and seek the best solution for your customers. Deliver on your promise, and consistently. Show integrity and professionalism. In short, follow the Golden Rule to treat others as you would like to be treated. Furthermore, be especially attentive during the initial window of opportunity—low pressure and strong follow-up. And don’t be afraid to ask for the sale if it is in the customer’s best interest.
#24 – Meet the four basic customer demands. Whatever your business, customers always seek four things: quality, speed, value, and a pleasurable buying experience. Make sure they get it or risk losing them to your competition. “The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed” (Henry Ford).
#28 – Make an offer they can’t refuse. When your prospect has heard your persuasive message and is ready to buy, make an offer so compelling he or she would be crazy to buy from anyone else. The simple formula is given by Rick Shefren, online marketing authority, “Create an irresistible offer. Present it to a thirsty crowd. Sell them a second glass” (The Irresistible Offer pdf).
#30 – Become a passionate Ferengi marketer. You must have the “pig-headed determination” to be a successful marketer. Create good marketing systems and commit the necessary time, effort, and financial resources over a sustained period of time. Be patient. The momentum will build. Consistency equates with familiarity. Familiarity equates with confidence. Confidence equates with sales.
If you follow the above tips and incorporate them into your business processes, you will attract and acquire more and more customers. Thinking as a Ferengi, “Enough… is never enough” (Rule #97).