Fundamentally, your business is defined by its ability to satisfy the needs of your customers. When those needs change, your business must adapt — or it will wither over time.

But how to adapt? It’s a question you have to ask if you’re a telecom agent facing the challenge of rebranding yourself to accommodate new customer demands for sleekly delivered cloud services and other capabilities that seem to upend your traditional business model.

I say “seem to” for a reason.  That’s because cloud-related services must be integrated if they’re going to produce successful business outcomes — and in that integration lurks an opportunity to adapt your current business model to redefine and update your brand so you can thrive in the new age of cloud computing.

Notice that I did not say dump your business model and go find some other way to make a living. On the contrary, your goal is to extend who you currently are to increase your value to your customers. This is how you can grow your current revenue share within your customer base and pick up new customers along the way.

The process of redefining a brand is, of course, unique to each organization — but I believe it often comes down to finding effective ways to extend the trust your customers already have in you. Ask and answer these three simple questions to give your efforts momentum and direction.

1. What value do our customers get from us?

Start by reviewing why your customers do business with you and not someone else. How much does it have to do with trust?

2. What struggles do our customers currently have with their telecom and IT?

Skyrocketing IT support costs? Expensive upgrades? Inadequate in-house skills to successfully implement projects? Patterns point you to the expertise you need to develop or reliably access so you can extend your customers’ trust in you.

3. What are we realistically capable of doing?

The last thing you want is to violate the customer trust you’ve worked so hard to build by making promises you cannot keep. Be honest with yourself about your organization’s limits. How much new knowledge can you personally absorb?  What products, services and skills must you acquire to address your customers’ needs and realistically retain their trust in your ability to deliver? Do you invest to build these skills internally or do you partner with someone who aligns with/complements your business?  How many — and what sort — of new partners can you manage?

As you answer these questions about the best way for you to extend your customers’ trust in you, I expect you’ll find yourself thinking about how to deliver on that trust — and what it takes to stand out in the cloud crowd.

(by Gary Schick, reprinted from