The journey from being liked to being trusted

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WALTER L. ABELA JR.

There are many approaches to selling, but making sure your customers like you is perhaps one of the more basic and universal ones. In business-to-business selling, that goes even deeper than simply being liked; one has to be trusted. In this arena, people are not “buying” simply for personal use and their purchases could have far-reaching implications for their organizations. That makes it all the more crucial to make a positive impact right out of the gate.

Understanding the decision maker is key to making that good first impression. While there are several diagnostic tools that you can use to better understand human behavior – there’s the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and there’s also DiSC, FIRO-B, and StrengthsFinder – you can’t very well ask your customers to take a personality test for your benefit, can you?

With this limitation in mind, Deloitte developed its own tool called Business Chemistry, which can help get a better understanding of what makes someone tick without necessarily having to subject that person to a formal assessment.

The tool categorizes individuals into four primary types: drivers (analytical thinkers, intellectually creative, prefer experimentation over theorization); guardians (realists, detail-oriented, risk-averse, deliberate thoroughly before making decisions); integrators (connectors, masters of empathy and nuance, considers everyone’s opinions); and pioneers (highly adaptable, like to explore possibilities and redefine status quo).


While Deloitte did develop a questionnaire that can help determine an individual’s most dominant Business Chemistry type (If you want to take the assessment, click here: https://businesschemistry.deloitte.com/Login/Index?ReturnUrl=%2f#/), behavioral and contextual cues can more or less reveal a person’s type.

One Deloitte executive who regularly uses the Business Chemistry tool for business development efforts finds that online profiles can say a lot about an individual. Based on his experience, a person who talks about his passion more than what he actually does is likely to be a pioneer/integrator, while someone whose online profile is mostly about work is likely a driver/guardian.

Here’s a breakdown of observable behaviors and contextual cues that can help you identify an individual’s dominant Business Chemistry type (See Table 1):

Now how do you tailor your approach to each Business Chemistry type so that they are receptive to you?

Here are some do’s and don’ts, which also take into consideration the cognitive biases each type is likely to fall prey to, for interacting with each Business Chemistry type. (See Table 2)

Now for the caveat: These guidelines on the different Business Chemistry types are designed to help you understand a client’s work style, biases and preferences based on observable cues, but this shouldn’t be taken as the last word on your client’s personality. Even if you have your client take the Business Chemistry assessment, what you will get will be an image of their most dominant type, never a complete picture of who they really are.

What Deloitte hopes you get with this tool is a way to make sure you start a relationship with a client on the right foot, to improve your chances of beingliked. From there, of course, more factors will come into play, and more work will have to be done, for you to become a trusted partner. But as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The author is the Tax & Corporate Services leader of Navarro Amper & Co., the local member firm of Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd. – a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited – comprising Deloitte practices operating in Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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