Here are some common Frequently Asked Questions we receive:
How can this help sales, if we don’t use the CAB as a sales platform?
Oddly enough, experience shows that you’re likely to improve sales as a result of your Customer Advisory Board activities, but not at your meetings. If your participants start to feel the interactions are merely sales pitches they lose interest, and you’re defeating your own purpose.
How long does it take to get a Customer Advisory Board up and running?
Our approach can get a customer advisory board launched in 90 days or so if necessary. We know a lot of shortcuts. And we’ve done this many times. It’s smarter, however, to treat it long-term, as something you’ll be running for years. If you go off half-baked, or ill-conceived, it won’t help you gain credibility or influence with the people you’re trying to reach.
Why can’t we accomplish all this in our regular sales contacts? How is this different from just staying close to our customers?
Your everyday sales contacts and interactions are critical. Your Customer Advisory Boards or Executive Events create a different environment, for a different purpose. A sales situation is typically focused on very granular issues and details — and is often somewhat adversarial in that it’s a negotiation.
In a Customer Advisory Board environment, there is no deal on the table, no make-or-break atmosphere. It’s about concepts and long-term ideas, about mutual interests and concerns. And it’s a group situation. You have execs from different companies in different businesses, offering more wide-ranging perspectives. You’re not trying to walk out with a contract, but with new allies, with insights, better relationships, and sixteen ideas you would never have gotten any other way.
Why would top executives want to spend time advising us and talking about our business?
It’s all in how you position the group, and how you run it. We always build the customer advisory board around common interests. You are interested in delivering the best possible products and solutions, and they are interested in solving business problems, and make their companies better. Infuse your customer advisory board with that mission and you’ll get all the participation you need.
That said, top executives do like to be sought out for their opinions and perspectives. And they do like to interact with their peers at other companies. That’s where fresh ideas and insights come from.
Isn’t it possible to manage a Customer Advisory Board in house?
Absolutely. Some large companies do indeed run their own Customer Advisory Board programs. All it takes is people on staff who have run such programs before, and who have the bandwidth to manage them. Ignite works with companies that want to skip that learning curve and get their Customer Advisory Boards up and productive relatively quickly. We can save a lot of needless trial and error and flailing about. We do this all day long and have gotten very good at it.