Client Advisory Councils: Great Process Will Set You Free…Really.

Many find process to be stifling, that it can be an inhibitor to creativity, that it is time consuming.  Through our work on Customer Advisory Councils we have found the contrary to be true:  process enables, rather than inhibits, a better conversation.

Picture this.  A Customer Advisory Council where members regularly attend meetings and provide valuable insight into market and industry issues; an Advisory Council where the sponsors know the members and their pain points and provide a view into the overall strategy and go-to-market approach of the organization.  What is one of the key differentiators that set this Advisory Council apart from those that flail?  Process.

Below are areas where we find process facilitates – not hinders – progress resulting in the rich, interactive dialogue and reciprocal value that we all seek from an Advisory Council.

  • Process ensures sponsors are well prepared.  Advisory Council meetings are no place to wing it, with high stakes relationships sitting in the room.  A regular cadence of input calls with senior executives of the sponsoring organization ensures that they are in tune with the issues and trends that are top of mind for members, and are also prepared to discuss strategic imperatives that members are interested in getting an early read on.  They arrive at the meeting fully prepared for the right conversation.
  • Process supports dynamic agendas.  Well-designed agendas can make a meeting; loose conversation can break one.  Members want to engage in agendas that are meaningful to them.  Member checkpoints, strategically scheduled before meetings, create opportunities for council members to provide input to agendas, resulting in ownership of the agenda and reciprocal value for both members and the sponsoring organization.  The members come to the meeting already committed to a good dialog and well prepared to share their insights.
  •  Process defines expectations and creates a framework for conversation.  Even the most casual of executives will concede that being well briefed to have a conversation with clients will drive a better outcome for all.  Well thought-out pre-meeting materials and presentation decks set expectations on the intent and create a framework for the conversation that will take place in the meeting for both the sponsoring company and the clients.  Developing background materials and questions for consideration – and sending them to members in advance of the meeting – prepares both members and sponsors for the conversations and offers an opportunity for members to enlist their extended teams in providing input to the strategic topics that are on the table.  Don’t miss the opportunity the set the stage.

Similarly, advanced planning for speakers, including high-level guidelines for presentation decks combined with preparation sessions, enable speakers to refine their key points to target the areas where they truly want to get strategic advice.  These same guidelines help to keep the sessions at the conversational level, instead of a situation where the council members are being talked at rather than the interchange of advice that we are all seeking.

There are just a few of the ways we find that process can enable the kind of conversation that drives progress on an advisory council.  What are your experiences injecting process into your advisory council management?  Do you fear it or embrace it?

Comments are closed.

Related Stories

Customer Advisory Board Charter: Do You Need One?

Posted on 03.5.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

You’ve stood up your Customer Advisory Board (CAB), recruited your client members, completed a successful CAB meeting and are working through all of the follow-on activities. One of those activities should be to create a Customer Advisory Board Charter.  

Continue Reading »

New Year, Fresh Start

Posted on 01.23.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards, Misc

The beginning of a new year brings fresh starts, clean slates, and time to examine what works and what doesn’t work in any number of settings, be it your personal life or your work life. In our work on customer  

Continue Reading »

Membership Mix: Determining the Ideal Membership Equation for Your Customer Advisory Board

Posted on 11.21.2019 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Membership recruiting is foundational to the success of customer advisory boards and careful selection of the right mix of members is imperative to standing up a solid board. The key word in “customer advisory board” is customer. The advising client  

Continue Reading »

Progressing Customer Advisory Board Advice

Posted on 09.6.2019 by in Customer Advisory Boards, Featured

‘Closing the loop’ is a phrase we use frequently at Farland Group. The point of this phrase is to emphasize that an engagement with a client is only as good as the action taken after the customer advisory board meeting.  

Continue Reading »


Customer Advisory Boards

An advisory board is a powerful engine of engagement, insight, and business transformation. Make the most of yours.

A Board Success Factor: Business and Industry Expertise » Advisory Boards: How to Extend the Value »

Learn More »

Engagement Strategy

Like any good relationship, customer engagement is a long-term, reciprocal effort. When done well, meaningful engagement leads to better business results, faster.

Engage Your Customers to Help You Stop Pitching » Getting to a Customer Engagement Mindset »

Learn More »

Understanding the C-Suite

Want to improve your standing with your C-suite customers? Deliver what executives want: ideas, inspiration, innovation, influence.

C-Suite Insight: Digital Disruption » Looking to Engage Executives? First, Understand What They Want »

Learn More »