How to Become a Value-Adding Partner (not just a vendor)

Every company wants to be distinguished from the marketplace competition – but sometimes it’s difficult to rise above other suppliers and be thought of as more than just another commodity.

What’s true of companies is also true of individual client-facing professionals (salespeople, account managers, project managers, etc.).

You want to be thought of as a gold mine, not just a gold-grabber.


How to become more valuable and memorable? Beside providing a great product or service, here is one way that outstanding professionals distinguish themselves with their clientele. Go beyond just a vendor/provider by becoming a value-adding resource.

  • Become an advisor – your clients need expert opinion and advice on a host of subjects that are in your domain. By being well-read and well-informed (actively networking with other smart people in the field), you can be a go-to person who doesn’t just deliver a pitch, but provides helpful perspective.
  • Become an informer – I don’t mean act like a tattletale; but get plugged into the current news in your industry, and regularly pass on important and up-to-date information to your clients. Two of the most powerful ways to do this is using LinkedIn updates, and sending out individual e-mails.
  • Become a connector – you and your company become exponentially more valuable to the client when you connect them to other needed resources. By creating a large professional network, you put yourself in a position to help dozens of people over time – and those people won’t forget you when there are opportunities in your wheelhouse.

Living out a long-term, day-to-day commitment to add value like this will make you a valued partner instead of just a vendor. It’s well worth the effort!

Also on the blog: Networking is Gold-Mining


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  1. Steve,

    Great post. Quality driven products and “expertise” is what I look for the most – an advisor. Many vendors ask what I want throughout the project and it frustrates me. Many times I really don’t quite know exactly and depend on my vendor as an advisor. Steve Jobs once responded to the question, “why don’t you do market research” by stating “people don’t know what they need until we show them”. This approach may not work all the time, however it’s tough to argue against the success of Apple product.


  2. Great information Steve!

    After all the time and effort put into establishing that relationship, it simply makes sense to further the added value by becoming a partner with a little skin in the game. Strong relationships have always been the basis of referrals and repeat business. Somehow in the digital age that has almost become a lost art.

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