How should senior executives and the sales team be involved in an advisory board?

Senior Executives

Senior executives from your organization can—and must—play a role at every stage. Their input helps you convene the right people on the right topics and offer valuable content and conversations to your advisors.

Their critical role is to:

  • provide overall stewardship
  • demonstrate consistent commitment to the board and customers
  • ask the right questions
  • listen openly and intently
  • act on the advice

Secure an executive sponsor.

At least one executive—preferably the most senior in the business unit or division whose strategy the board advises—serves as a board chair and the formal sponsor of its activities.

When additional executives devote time and effort to the board, it may signal your organization’s sincerity and commitment. That said, bringing too many to the meeting table can drown out the customer voice, and unnecessarily complicate in-meeting facilitation. To get the right combination of your executive team involved, consider a select group of internal leaders who:

  • are seen as peers, experts, or industry leaders by your advisors
  • have a direct stake in the board’s topics and outcomes
  • have the vision, mandate, and clout to influence others and make change
  • see and understand enterprise and ecosystem-wide implications
  • reinforce a long-term, company-wide commitment to customer experience and market orientation

The Sales Team

The best advisory boards exist to foster strategic dialogue and advice, not sales. Straying from that purpose—even in small ways—can put a crimp in your advisors’ willingness to participate and give their deepest, most candid input. Without that engagement and candor, your advisory board efforts will quickly stall out.

Keep your board confidential and “pitch free.”

To stay true to that no-sales principle, and the board’s confidentiality, your sales executives’ ideal role is to:

  • Identify potential advisors: help to assess both the customer’s strategic relevance and the individual’s characteristics and credentials
  • Apply the lessons learned—incorporate the advisory board’s insight into ongoing sales strategies and operations, as well as relationships and conversations with customers and prospects

Typically, sales representatives only participate in board meetings if and when it serves a specific, advisor-requested purpose. The sales team will still gain the benefit of the board’s perspective—through the high-level summaries and debriefs that should be a core step in the board management process.

Related Stories

Creating a Customer Advisory Board? Your Internal Team Matters

Posted on 11.13.2018 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Companies launching a Customer Advisory Board or Council place a lot of focus on recruiting the right group clients – who to invite and what criteria to use. However, we often see less attention paid to the internal team required  

Continue Reading »

What is a Customer Advisory Board – Really?

Posted on 09.20.2018 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Companies apply “customer advisory board”, “client advisory council”, and similar terms to almost any forum involving customer input and interaction. Such a broad definition—“a forum for customer feedback”—causes confusion. Which customers? Feedback about what? Who needs insight? How will they  

Continue Reading »

Customer Advisory Board Agenda Development: It’s a Balancing Act

Posted on 07.16.2018 by in Customer Advisory Boards, Featured

The spring meetings have wound down, the heat of summer is in full effect, and now it is time to turn our attention to the fall, with another round of customer advisory board meetings just around the corner. With many  

Continue Reading »

The Power of Customer Input: It Doesn’t Have to be All Good

Posted on 04.27.2018 by in Customer Advisory Boards

I am an ardent believer in providing feedback to companies I purchase from.  I tweet about the amazing, personalized, almost-like-opening-a-gift experiences with shoe retailer M.Gemi or stationer Felix Doolittle.  On the flip side, I also do not hesitate to call  

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 »