Who should join our board as advisors (and who shouldn’t)?

The key word in “customer advisory board” is customer. The advising members of your board should represent your top accounts or most strategic relationships—be it by revenue or other measure—with a vested interest in the strategies you plan to discuss and shape.

Balance the board as a whole

Match the composition of the board to its intended impact—and the feedback you’re hoping to receive. You can consider its balance by:

  • industry
  • role
  • geography
  • value to and competition with one another
  • and more.

Consider their individual qualities

The ideal advisor has both the acumen and attitude to counsel you. You’re looking for top customers who:

  • are leaders, innovators, or thought leaders in their industry or profession
  • can advise beyond their own account issues
  • will consider each other peers

Should we invite prospective customers?

Tread carefully. Board meetings are deliberately not sales events. They are an opportunity to engage key customers—get their knowledgeable perspective on your strategy, business, and position in the market.

With less (or no) skin in the game, prospects:

  • are less committed to your success and a role in advising you.
  • cannot offer other members lessons from working with you.
  • often require more work to engage than the value they provide.

All of which can undermine your other advisors’ participation.

Should we invite external thought leaders?

All of the cautions about prospects also apply to external thought leaders, with two additional risks:

  • Customers will perceive them—rather than you—as more expert on key issues.
  • Customers will become less candid out of concerns over confidentiality.

Occasionally, a market watcher or researcher can provide a valuable industry perspective. Make sure they offer just as much insight to your customers as to you. And consider limiting their participation to a guest role or occasional participant.

Related Stories

Tackling the Transformation Challenge

Posted on 01.31.2019 by in Featured, Understanding the C-Suite

Transformation was at the top of the priority list for most organizations in 2018, whether it was creating a digital transformation strategy, or beginning to implement that strategy. A month into 2019, it is clear that transformation remains a hot  

Continue Reading »

How to Extend Your Customer Advisory Board’s Value

Posted on 11.20.2018 by in Customer Advisory Boards, Featured

How do you extend the value of a customer advisory board beyond those who participate in the meeting room to the rest of your organization? Here are a few of the most common challenges we see, and some recommendations to  

Continue Reading »

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 »

A Board Success Factor:
Business and Industry Expertise

Posted on 11.11.2018 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Sometimes we all need to take a moment and stop to reflect upon what we are doing and why. The constant go-go-go of our businesses and personal lives don’t often give time for reflection, thinking or even an extra moment  

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 »