Sustaining Client Advisory Board Membership: Keep Your Foot on the Gas

gaspedalIf there is one thing we have learned about Client Advisory Board membership it is that you are never done.  While the initial blast of recruiting is the most critical and time consuming to get your Council off to the right start, sustaining that membership over time is a task that requires ongoing vigilance and attention.

Here are some of the common challenges we see when it comes to membership for you to consider when you are planning your efforts.

  • Executive turnover – into new roles, new jobs within and outside the company – occurs with a fair amount of frequency.  A stable, interactive group of 15 members can suddenly become 10 or 11 from one meeting to the next.
  • Client relationship stability is harder to predict in these times of cost pressure and vendor scrutiny.  Your executive member may still be a raving fan, but some other executive new to his or her company may come in with their own posse of vendor favorites, influencing purchasing across the board.  Or you may encounter other relationship challenges, making that member’s participation in an advisory role much less desired or optimal over time.
  • The schedule challenge experienced by most executives by nature makes it hard for them to take time away from the office, and there are always a few executives that cannot make Council meetings.  This can turn into a permanent situation for some, which ties up valuable membership slots, and robs you of your chance to tap strategic advice and counsel.  At some point you have to determine when they have de facto quit by virtue of their non-attendance.
  • Keeping it fresh helps to reinvigorate the advice you receive, and the ideas that you hear.  It is good to periodically bring in new blood even to a very stable group to make sure that both you and your client members benefit from innovative thinking and varied experiences.
  • Lead time to recruit new members often gets overlooked, as companies scramble to fill suddenly vacant slots.  It can take many more weeks – even months – than you expect to get your client reps and sales teams into the process and arrive at solid nominations that accept your invitation.

In the course of helping clients navigate these challenges, we have developed a set of guidelines to keep the membership fresh and vibrant.

  1. Maintain a live pipeline – actively solicit nominations and proactively target potential members among your client base, even if you have no open slots.  Revisit the pipeline targets once a quarter with the client rep and in the revenue tracking system to make sure candidates are still viable.
  2. Systematize recruiting – embed the Client Advisory Board nomination process into your client and business leadership process.  Make it part of quarterly client review calls, or integrate it into monthly leadership meetings so that it becomes part of the ongoing conversation, just like lead generation and nurturing or other key aspects of growing and sustaining the business.
  3. Enlist senior leadership support – Advisory Council recruiting happens most effectively and efficiently when your senior leaders make it clear that this is a top priority for the business.  Getting your senior leaders to actually sponsor and propose nominations is another way we have found to amp up responsiveness and results.
  4. Set term limits – having explicit term limits for your Board or Council members helps to manage the flow and the expectations of members for their service on the Board, and create a cadence for keeping the recruiting effort alive.  It also allows you to roll off less effective members without offense.  You can always extend terms by mutual agreement for those who wish to continue, but it is a good discipline to keep you and your clients focused on getting value from their participation.

So don’t stop recruiting – there is always a good new member waiting to collaborate and keep your Client Advisory Board humming and on track.

Comments are closed.

Related Stories

Taking your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual

Posted on 04.13.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

As my colleague Camille Antonetti wrote in her recent blog, COVID-required social distancing and stay at home measures have necessitated organizations to shift their in-person events and meetings to virtual platforms. In our work at Farland Group, we have  

Continue Reading »

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 »

The Value of Convening C-Suite Peers: Reaping What You Sow

Posted on 02.1.2020 by in Engagement Strategy, Featured, Featured, Understanding the C-Suite

In our work with Customer Advisory Boards and other executive engagement programs, we have seen firsthand the extent to which C-level executives seek and crave connection to real peers, where they can share stories and gain insights in a safe  

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 »


Customer Advisory Boards

Customer Advisory Boards are powerful engines of engagement, insight, and business transformation. Make the most of yours.

Meeting Facilitation: Virtual and In-Person Boards » Taking Your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual »

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

Building C-level programs that are meaningful and bring value to you as well as to your c-suite customers is challenging. Veiled sales pitches won’t win the day with this audience. Deliver what executives want: ideas, inspiration, innovation, influence.

Building a C-Suite Client Experience Strategy » Do you Know What Your Customers Value? »

Learn More »