I have learned in working with CEO’s that they value validation of current strategies as much as suggestions of what they could do better.
You want to position yourself as a trusted advisor, one that is confident enough to tell customers what they are doing well and what they can improve on. In my own work, I have found that CEO’s greatly value when I validate their strategies not because they are looking for a pat on a back. They value it because it is coming from an outsider, someone who has no vested interested in the process like his employees who are constantly looking to protect themselves and defend their decisions.
If you are constantly always focusing on selling something today, you will never be in a position to validate the good things a customer is doing.
Regardless if it limits your sales potential for the current visit, understand that validation when appropriate goes a long way to establishing yourself as a trusted advisor. It builds trust and in the long run it leads to a greater share of the customers business than when you are constantly telling the customer all the things she is doing wrong and how you can do them better.
This strategy is one that proved to be powerful in helping one of my clients reposition themselves with a key account and resulted in an industry changing ten year deal valued at over $200m. You an read more about in this CEO Bestselling Book.
The issue is not your competition. It is your relationship with the customer and whether or not they feel you have their best interests at heart. Can they trust you? Do they believe in you? Or do they think you will say anything to get the business?