Do You Really Want to Launch a Client Advisory Board?

It is true that Client Advisory Boards can be extremely powerful vehicles to gain real insight, embed clients in your strategy and deepen important relationships. But, if it is not the right time, and the elements for success are not there, you can lose ground and waste valuable resources trying to make it work.

Here are some things we have learned need to be in place to get a Board off the ground. Consider these carefully as you make the decision to invest in a Client Advisory Board or Council. (Part 2 of this post will outline alternatives clients have explored to achieve some of the same goals if they are not ready for this level of commitment but still want to engage and collaborate.)

9 Must Haves to Make Your Advisory Council a Success

For Your Clients or Partners  

1. Existing strong relationships with the clients you are trying to target as members
If those relationships are only aspirational they won’t want to join

2. Skin in the game
If they don’t already invest time and resources with your company they won’t prioritize participation on a Council

3. Clients or partners who are good advisors
Not all clients are good advisors – if they are the type to focus on tactical client issues or are uninterested in helping you succeed don’t invite them

4. Clients or partners who are respected in the industry or are thought leaders
Clients who are at the leading edge of their profession and have an interest in learning from and sharing with others will provide more value to the Council and gain more value from it


5. Desire to get advice
While it should go without saying, if the company’s leaders are not interested in or don’t believe they can benefit from advice it will show to your clients

6. Commitment from the top of the organization
If the most senior executive leader doesn’t come out with a clear mandate of support it will be hard to get others to follow

7. Senior alignment to and accountability for driving the Council’s success
If the senior leaders who own the relationships are not in agreement on the Council objectives and its importance and are not being held accountable for the success, the initiative will go nowhere fast

8. Individuals with the clout and resources to take action on the advice
Even if the executives involved are excited and willing to listen to the input, if they are not the same ones who have the power and ability to act within the organization, it is a waste of time to get the advice

9. Senior-level champion to drive implementation
Despite good intentions and commitment on its priority, most executive leaders are too busy to drive a Council without strong support and tactical leadership from a champion they respect with enough seniority and influence to make things happen on a day to day basis

If after you examine your organization you conclude the time is not yet right to launch a Client Advisory Council, all is not necessarily lost. My next post will highlight options to consider for engaging more systematically along the same road to insight and co-creation.


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