Advisory boards can strengthen relationships with your customers. You may worry that that upside potential has a downside risk:
What if something goes wrong? Will it damage the business relationship?
It is true that not all customers make good advisors.
But, as with any business relationship, how you solve the problem often leaves more of an impression than the problem itself.
Clarity, decisiveness, and tact will go a long way to preserving your reputation with the advisor—and the board as a whole.
Why Advisors Struggle
Advisors struggle if they are:
- mismatched with the board by seniority, role or style
- reluctant to help you build or improve your business
- unsure of how to help
- disruptive or unconstructive by nature or due to the state of your relationship
- coping with significant changes in role, availability, etc.
Minimize Challenges from the Start
There are ways to minimize these challenges from the start.
Write a clear charter.
Clarify what’s expected from advisors—in terms of time, substance, and purpose.
Select advisors wisely.
Base your recruiting on both their business credentials and their suitability as an advisor and member of the larger group.
Cope Quickly if the Struggle Continues
If, despite these good efforts, an advisor still struggles:
Offer them a graceful exit.
Enlist sales leads, customer reps, and an outside facilitator to assess the situation and offer the advisor tactful options that will help them, as well as you.
Decide quickly…and act with care.
Whatever the problem, don’t let it fester without a decision. It is too disruptive and a waste of everyone’s valuable time.
The quality of membership is a success factor for your board. In the end, it will be the right decision to remove customers who don’t make good advisors.