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

A Strong Pipeline is the Key to Revitalizing Customer Advisory Board Membership

Posted on 07.29.2021 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Retirements and role changes in the C-suite can wreak havoc on Customer Advisory Board membership, taking it from robust and static to multiple open seats in the blink of an eye. While this might cause panic at first, it  

Continue Reading »

Customer Advisory Board Engagement: Strategies for Driving Action in between CAB Meetings

Posted on 07.8.2021 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Successful Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) feature a high level of member engagement during meetings – members offering perspectives and direct input into the topic areas presented. Keeping that momentum going in between meetings is imperative but can be challenging  

Continue Reading »

Building a Strong Membership is Key to Customer Advisory Board Success

Posted on 03.25.2021 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) are an integral part of an overall customer marketing program, but they are very different engagement vehicles from events and require a special kind of mindset and planning for the long term. Of all the activities  

Continue Reading »

Staying Connected in a Virtual World

Posted on 12.15.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

My colleague Camille Antonetti recently shared that her word to describe 2020 was ‘adaptability’, which got me thinking about the word that sums up 2020 for me. Connected is my word. Given many of us have been working from  

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 »