What do you do when you find that a large portion of your customer advisory board has suddenly turned over due to retirement and role changes? Panic, is the first thought that comes immediately to mind. But once that initial jolt passes, it is time to look at the current membership and take stock of the industry and geographic gaps that need to be addressed.
I’ve shared perspectives on the importance of a strong customer advisory board membership pipeline before, but a sudden and dramatic member turnover really shows how imperative it is to have a view to who might be next filling those seats at the board table. So, what do you do?
Reach to the executive team. Provide the senior leaders with a view to the gaps and share clear membership criteria, and they very likely will have ideas of who they feel might be a prime advisory board candidate.
Check in with the client leaders. Perhaps that ideal candidate that could not previously commit due a heavy workload or a conflict of interest is able to make the commitment now. It pays to keep track of those that you would want on your ‘dream team’ and to follow up. Client leaders who interact with their customers regularly also have a view to potential new members and may help uncover someone that you may not have considered.
Research, research, research. Regularly reading up on the experts in the topical space of focus for the advisory board. This is a great way to bring fresh new ideas for membership candidates to the table.
Additionally, here are a few things to NOT do in your moment of panic:
- Do not agree to take on delegates.
- Avoid just turning to replacements without considering the broader mix to ensure you have the best quality board.
- Shift the focus to prospects if you haven’t done that before – it takes a careful touch.
An unexpected and significant departure of advisory board members can feel daunting, but a consistent and persistent plan of action can help you get over this hurdle and on your way to a revitalized membership base.