A Contender for Worst Business Advice of 2008

If your customers trust you, that’s good, right? Like, really good?

So suppose you wanted to ruin trust with your customers. What would you do to destroy trust?

• You might try lying to the client.
• You might try saying one thing and doing another.
• You could try keeping secrets from the customer.
• You could refuse to answer direct questions.
• You could actively prevent your customers from learning about cost-saving solutions.

Incredibly, these are specific recommendations made by a business blog, Drooling for Dollars (the name tells you something), in a post titled “A Successful Businessman Keeps Secrets From His Clients.

In this post, the author offers nuggets like “never let a client know your hourly rate,” “tell your client that the work will be completed in 3 weeks although you get it done in 3 days,” and talks about “those irritating and annoying clients who ask too many questions before making a deal.”

It’s good to answer some questions, says the piece–it helps build trust. But don’t go overboard with it—trust could ruin you if those nasty competitors called “customers” find out too much.

The author summarizes: “There are pieces of information you should never reveal to your client, no matter how many times they ask or how much they insist you [sic].”

Uh huh? Really?

Anyone wanna help me shoot some fish in a barrel? The comment section is right below.

16 replies
  1. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Hi, Charlie,

    For me, the name of the blog is very telling: "Drooling for Dollars". I think about "blind ambition" and how being blinded by ambition -or dollars – places a veil over our true and real authentic self so we show up "doing what  have to do" to "succeed", often jettising those qualities and capacities like trust, honesty, openness,  etc., that otherwise would support open, honest and trusting communication and relationships.

    The photos in your graphic communicate, "Who will I be today?" "What mask will I wear today?" in order to do what it takes to make the sale (i.e., satiate my drooling self)? The dollar has becomes the Pavlovian bell.

    Forgetting "who I am" and being fake, phony and duplicitous to make a buck usually results in biting one’s self in the butt in the long run….again, it’s that Karma thing..

  2. Michael Benidt
    Michael Benidt says:

    Fish in a barrel is right, so I’m going to defend him. I don’t think it’s fair to pick on an illiterate, boring, derivative blogger. Leave him alone – and take on the big boys – the ones who cleverly use lanuage to deceive and who have a large following. You usually head out into the deeper waters for big game fishing. Put the gun away.

    But, I admit, it was fun.

  3. Charles H. Green
    Charles H. Green says:

    Well, Michael, you’re probably right.  Thanks for holding me to high standards.  Though some of what Peter accurately describes does bleed through into larger organizations as well.  I’ll continue to try to seek it out in the "deeper waters" primarily, thanks for the reminder.


  4. Michael Benidt
    Michael Benidt says:

    Actually, my emphasis should have been on the "illiterate, boring, derivative blogger," not on you.

    I feel bad about that, because your overall, cumulative message of trust issues ranks your blog in the top few I’ve ever read. I like it most, though, when you take folks like Coke (as you did in "Coke, Green Tea and Trust").

    I remember that one still!

    Thanks for a terrific blog.

  5. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Perhaps another perspective, if I may: (1) In reading that blog and others on the site, I believe it’s a "her" (Marie Christine). (2) My experience tells me she is perhaps not illiterate but is a non-native user of English-doing the best she can with the grasp of  the langage she has (3) to a minnow, a bass is a "bigger fish" in that, IMHO, there are many many "little people" who are being ripped off by the dishonest and shady tactics of small entrepreneurs and business folks. To tug on the sleeves of these little fish and hopefully make them aware of perhaps taking the "high road", re-tooling their moral compass and considering more ethical ways of doing business is worthwhile and is not the sole domain of "banksters" and the bigger fish. Many of these "big boys" learned their evil ways as "little boys" on the way up. Large schools of fish is realtive.

  6. Michael Benidt
    Michael Benidt says:


    Now I really feel bad! As usual, Peter takes the long and generous view. I’m working on being a better person. Some day. You both are a hoot – and I wish I had more time to read you more often!

  7. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Michael…no need to feel bad; that’s a choice one doesn’t need to make. As for "…working on being a better person…" methinks that’s why all of  us have been gifted with our respective sojourns on the planet.

  8. Michael Holt
    Michael Holt says:

    Charles, I think you also overlook the value that such content offers you.  Your own activity and income (I dare say) derives from an appetite for a message that stands in sharp contrast to that provided by Ms Christine and her ilk.  Should there be some kind of worldwide movement to trust-based business, then you, and we, would have to cast around for some new mantra with which we’d daily console ourselves on our ill-defined sense of moral superiority.


    As it happens, trust-based selling and business, is still thankfully a pleasant rarity and long may it remain so… if those of us who practise it are to remain distinctive, and not required to make greater efforts than we presently need to.


    (With tongue firmly in cheek),


  9. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Charlie, a great post. This issue is one close to my heart but in the related arena of conflict resolution. I hope you don’t mind my adding a link to my post about manipulation in conflict resolution. I think you may like David Maxfield’s definition of manipulation that I quoted.

    I am on the far side of the transparency continuum; I truly believe it serves everyone in the long run.

  10. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Stephanie, that is a great post and I love Maxfield’s quote, I urge anyone to click through and read it.

    You have my company out at that far side; sunlight is not only the best disinfectant, but the most powerful bonding force as well.

  11. Scott Allen
    Scott Allen says:

    Actually, I thought the tag line of the blog was very telling:  "Entrepreneurs worship two gods – Dollars and Ideas".

    When you start with a flawed assumption, you will usually reach flawed conclusions.

  12. Marie Christine
    Marie Christine says:

    Hello Mr. Charles,

    I truly believe your blog is a big thing, as one of your reader comments, because I guess you love highlighting the wrong side of a picture. The secrets I have asked you to keep from your clients are those which make you earn money. Tell me, how many of you here earn big bucks while revealing your expertise and tactics to your customers.

    I never asked any of you to cheat your customers, just recommended few tips to make money in a harmless way. I think I described some secrets openly which we all keep but mind discussing them.

    I think, it will be better if you keep going on  looking for"Big Boys" to talk about and avoid conveying negative aspects of other people’e posts.


  13. Stewart Hirsch
    Stewart Hirsch says:

    This is really about attitudes and intent.  The problem is that the “secrets” mentioned are not really secrets – they are tactics.  Tactics designed to make us look good at the expense of transparency and honesty.  That’s not to say there aren’t or can’t be legitimate reasons for the “secrets” themselves, as long as it isn’t about keeping things from clients to benefit ourselves.
    For example, it’s ok to not let a client know your hourly rate if you don’t have one.  Many consultants bill by the day or by the project. But if you do have an hourly rate, keeping that from the client is a tactic, designed only to benefit you.  If you calculate the full price using an hourly amount (note – not your hourly rate – because you don’t have one), while you don’t have to disclose that amount if it’s just a way for you to think about how much you should charge, if the client asks how many hours the project should take you, the answer should be direct and clear. They can do the math.   And while you don’t have to share your calculation, when you’re transparent and do share it, even without being asked, I think clients appreciate it and it adds to your trustworthiness.
    Another example.  It’s ok to tell a client that it could take you three weeks to complete a project if it’s true.  We need to know what’s realistic for us, and share that with our clients, setting expectations for ourselves and our clients.  Even if we think it will take us 3 days, but want to be realistic, we could say, if true – “it shouldn’t take me more than 3 days based on my current schedule, but I have a couple of additional projects that might be more of a rush – would 3 weeks on the outside be ok?:  But if we know it will take 3 days, saying it will take 3 weeks just to make us look good and feed our egos (and maybe our pocketbooks in the short run), is disingenuous.  
    In my opinion the issue is whether we are being transparent and honest, or using a tactic to benefit us, rather than the client.   Clients, friends, and family prefer honesty and genuineness over tactics.  It builds trust.  And they see through tactics, eventually.  So leaving our egos and tactics out of the picture is not only the right thing to do.  It will also pay off in the long run.

  14. Michael Benidt
    Michael Benidt says:

    And, transparency starts with having an "About" section on your blog that tells the reader something about who you are.

    I’m going to suggest to Marie Christine that she fill out the "About" section of her blog.

    I almost never do this, but here’s an old blog article that we wrote about the "About" section – and the transparency it yields. Hopefully,  Charles, you could edit this and make it a link. It’s called, "This Time, It’s Personal." Here’s the link:



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