Marketing Innovation Just Got Smarter. Announcing Carnegie Dartlet. Learn More

by Tyler Borders

"Humans don’t buy from brands; they buy the Rx within the brand."

The most valuable person in any company is not the President, or the COO, or anybody in the C-Suite for that matter. Nor is it the Co-Founders, the Board of Directors, a senior sales leader or strategist.

The most valuable person in any company is the “Rx.” There may be just one in an organization, or many. It’s a position that doesn’t have a formal job description or a bulleted roles and responsibilities list.

The Rx is a position that cannot be assigned by company leaders—it is instead always selected by the client. This quintessential role is solely and purely earned.

Akin to James Cameron’s epic “Avatar” when a Na’vi finds their Toruk Makto and they connect for life, an Rx and its client imprint on one another. This bond typically lasts the entire lifespan of the account.

The Rx is the “Relationship x-Factor.”

I remember spending weeks, literally, locked in conference rooms with the entire leadership team and external consultants working on “swim lane” charting. I can only imagine the cost to the company (a previous employer many years ago) to conduct this exercise. The stated goal was to identify all of the various positions in the company over a typical workflow, and define all of the roles and responsibilities of each position in the various “swim lanes.”

Weeks passed, and dozens of detailed posters lined the glass walls of the office. We all sat back, exhausted, observing weeks of work and ready for the exercise to be finished.

Sales Lead? Check. Senior Strategist? Check. Account Manager? Check. Specialists? Check…

“I hate to bring this up… But something is missing.” I said. Glanced darted frustratingly around the table.

“Who actually owns the relationship? You know? I’m not talking about project tasks, but the actual relationship with the client… There’s no swim lane here for that.”

Flash forward to my own company, and the facts remain the same. There’s a transcendent role that organizations must be intentional about or face dire consequences. The Rx is a phantom position, and it’s also unquestionably the most valuable.

The Rx is the one who stays up late and wakes up early thinking about the client when they’re not required or paid to. The Rx gets the off-hours texts and calls from the client when something is very right, or very wrong. The Rx sends the personal ‘Thank You’ cards when nobody is looking, and is on a first or even nick-name basis with the client. The Rx is the one who is deeply and personally—not just professionally—invested in the well-being of a client who has bet their precious time, money, and reputation on them.

In any service industry, humans don’t buy from brands; they buy the Rx within the brand. When I take a stage I stand for Dartlet, and when I walk off of it I’m given the unique opportunity to become an Rx, or not.

It takes a rare and talented team member to earn the stripes to claim this hallowed position. What’s more, it could be occupied by anybody in the company—from the top of the org chart to the bottom. The Rx doesn’t correlate with years of experience and it’s no respecter of degrees or salary.

The client imprints on the Rx when they meet a thought leader who they trust above everybody else to deliver for them. It’s really no offense to the team that will produce the work, but if the ship sinks it will be the Rx left on it when the life rafts have floated away. It will be the Rx that gets on a plane or a conference line to have the difficult conversations and bring redemption.

I’ve seen accounts flounder and in the end recognized that nobody from the firm ever embodied the Rx role for that client. Put frankly and simply, nobody cared enough to claim it. No match, no imprint, was ever formed. After all, humans require relationship, not only results.

If you foolishly and subtly attempt to replace an established Rx with a project manager, strategist, or other teammate, it will seldom if ever work. It won’t be long until you face emotional turbulence of some variety. Again, the client decides who their Rx is, and it simply cannot be mapped to your pragmatic project matrix.

Your company lives and dies by the presence of this position. Owners, I encourage to look over your payroll and identify who can hold this torch besides you. You started and built your company because you are an Rx instinctively, but if you intend to scale you must reproduce.

So, employee, do you want to be the most valuable person in the company? The option is yours. Develop the intentionality, care, discipline, and reliability to be fortunate enough for a client to choose you. The Rx is not a title your boss can assign or take away. And if you earn it, you are permanently indispensable.