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My client is an idiot – A note on Trust and Empathy based Selling

Written by: Pankaj Pipariya
About the author: Head of Business Development-India. Srilanka, Bangladesh & Nepal at Anahat Organisation Development Consultancy Pvt Ltd

In the year 2010, I got an opportunity to hear Dr David Maister, co-author of The Trust Advisor in a conference in Washington DC, USA. Since then, the collocated word, Trusted-Advisor got stuck with me, and is also an often-aspired phrase in the service industry.

ServiceWe use many collocated words in our personal and professional life, like Manager-Employees, Employer-Employee, Dealer-Distributor, Market-Customer, etc.  One can notice a common thread in all of these. Often the word of high prominence and significance is mentioned and spoken first in all these collocated words. You just cannot speak the other way around, so much is the significance of the first word.

Research says any decision making is 70% emotional and 30% rational. The same logic, when we apply in the collocated word Trusted-Advisor, the word Trusted is not only of higher significance for decision making, but also depicts the emotional part. Thus, Trusted is an emotional part and Advisor is the rational part. Howsoever good you are in an advisory part, if not trusted, your selling or business relationship is not sustainable. One needs a good balance of both to build a sustainable business relationship and attain the aspired role of a Trusted-Advisor to clients.

Trust is often the most used and abused word in our day to day life. Trust is a give and take relationship. In internal team meetings, sometimes sales people call their customer an idiot, who does not know anything about the requirement. This is the beginning of mistrust and hence this negative sentiment will ooze out tacitly during business interactions and the relationship nurtured hence, is built on mistrust and may not be sustainable.

Following could be few do’s and don’t while building up trust and empathy based business relationships and selling.


  1. Client is the king. Respect the king.  Respect is the first sentiment and value in business relationships.
  2. Collaborate and co create business solutions with clients. Get on the same side of the table with an open mind.
  3. Communicate in an interactive fashion than a coercive presentation. Inclusiveness with clients is equally important. 
  4. Be candid and open in your transaction.  Learn more about your customer’s customer, to win their trust. If required, do mystery shopping and secondary research.  
  5. Connect with the client at an individual level. Remember, people buy from people, whatever company’s hat we wear. Hence a personal connection with the client is important. 


  1. Don’t be overconfident. Tone down on your self-assurance of knowledge and skills. It’s good to be confident but not be overconfident.

  2. Don’t force your point of view. Put yourself in the shoes of customers and then look at the problem from their perspective before making a proposition.

  3. Avoid confrontation. While it is good to confront a customer in solutions, let it be a positive and constructive confrontation.
  4. Don’t discriminate client contacts as per hierarchy or any other bias. Be equal in connection and connect with the person, not their title.
  5. Don’t dictate your terms. There could be a genuine concern at the client’s end and hence strive to build a win-win solution in a transparent manner.

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