Spring 2015
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Moving up the value chain, providing value first to individuals, then to businesses, then to industry, ultimately serves your company’s long-term goals.
Individuals and companies contribute to their personal and business brands by adding value for their customers. Within an organization, individuals establish themselves with others by doing something valuable. B2B businesses, of course, grow and thrive by providing value for their clients.

As that value spreads from one-on-one interactions, to companies as a whole, and then to the market in general, relationships deepen, and we have a broader impact on our market and even on society.

Figure 1. Value for an Individual Customer

Trusted Advisors and Trusted Suppliers

As an individual working with others in your company, you add value by solving problems, making improvements, and providing sound advice and counsel. Eventually, you may even become a Trusted Adviser to that individual co-worker, boss, or external customer. You earn this title by delivering, but also by going above and beyond to serve an individual beyond what is required and thinking about what that individual needs more holistically.

Businesses must also provide value to individual customers by supplying great services or products. But the value the business provides to an individual is broader than the product or service it sells to them. A business can provide even more value by providing access to events and conferences, providing opportunities to grow within the industry by speaking or writing, and opportunities to volunteer and serve on charitable boards.

As shown in Figure 1, this kind of relationship depends on consistent, solid delivery that goes above and beyond for an individual customer.

Figure 2. Value for an Enterprise

Business Advisors and Business Suppliers

As you grow in the value you provide, you move from providing value to an individual to providing value to the enterprise as a whole. You become a Business Advisor. At this point, as a Business Advisor, the value you provide is in leadership, improved processes, improved strategy, and ultimately, better business results based on a broader organization of the enterprise.

For businesses, as you grow to providing value from your business to another business at the enterprise level, you are working beyond individual buyers to dealing with your customer’s business as a whole. Then, you identify true synergies, such as providing strategic guidance to a customer’s board of directors, or even outsourcing specific functions. At this stage, your business will refer other trusted partners to your customers, who can provide value outside your scope of product or service. At this point, your customer businesses see you as a true Business Partner.

As shown in Figure 2, the movement from Trusted Advisor/Supplier to Business Advisor/Supplier leverages the individual relationships, and leverages a broader set of knowledge and capabilities to address the enterprise.

Figure 3. Value for the Industry Market

Industry Expert and Industry Leader

Finally, as you further mature in the value you provide, the recipient is the market as a whole. You start to be seen as an Industry Expert, broadening into publishing, speaking, adding value on social media, and advocating on behalf of your company or your industry to government.

For businesses, companies that move to become industry-leading firms by having a broad impact on the market match this progression at the individual level. At this level, businesses provide value to the market by improving the overall quality of life for their communities, by advocating for their industries with the government, or by actively contributing knowledge capital and thought leadership to the market in general.

As shown in Figure 3, the value of this broader impact extends beyond a single customer enterprise to include the perspective of the entire industry it serves.

Broader Impact and Broader Value

Having a broad perspective on the value you are providing as an individual can re-energize your efforts and cause you to consider the value you can provide at the enterprise or market level.

Similarly, as a business, you can add more value for your business customers by making a difference in the market as a whole. Ultimately, the value you and your business deliver drives the strength of your brand. Strong brands drive demand, which, ultimately, is what every individual and business needs to thrive.

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