A customer Advisory Board (CAB) provides your organization with substantial value in a lot of areas, including business direction, product/service guidance, closer customer relationships and even sales traction.  These very important and high-visibility initiatives, however, must be managed correctly in order to realize this type of value.  Furthermore, because CABs are typically comprised of your best strategic customers, you don’t want to cut corners with your board or have it look anything less than world class.

To help you successfully create and manage a CAB, here are some valuable tips you can employ:

1. Rank the specific value you want to receive, such as:

  • First – Market Research
  • Second – Strategic Direction
  • Third – Sales
  • Fourth – Competitive Intelligence

Knowing this order will help you determine which customers and individuals to bring on and what types of topics to focus the board and meetings around.

2. Create an action plan before you start your board, covering the following components:

  • CAB Strategy and Design
  • Member Recruitment
  • Meeting Design and Facilitation
  • Ongoing CAB Management

Consult the document closely when forming the board and also occasionally once the board is formed to ensure everything is on track as you planned it to be.

3. Draft a comprehensive charter document, which includes the following elements:

  • Mission
  • Scope
  • Objectives
  • Duration
  • Time Commitment
  • Focus
  • Member Benefits
  • Roles
  • Financial Responsibilities

Your charter is the governing document of the board that is shared in electronic and hard copy with ever member.

4. Create an “Action Tracker” to keep a close handle on all of the action items you took away from your last annual meeting.  This helps keep your organization on task in terms of acting on each of them and it also enables you to give members a quick status update at any given time.

5. Identify specific titles of target members (and secondary targets) that you plan to recruit.  Secondary titles are those types of individuals you are willing to accept if the initial target isn’t a good fit for the board or is simply not available or interested.  Often times the alternate title is a lower level individual and you need to decide upfront how “low” you are willing to go.  If you have a board with mostly CEOs, are you comfortable having VPs or even Director level people? It is important to make this decision early.

These are obviously just a few of the many tips to follow when forming and managing a world class advisory board.  For more information, please download our ebook titled “Delivering a World Class Advisory Board.”

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