Customer Advisory Board Best Practices

Our proven methodology & process maximizes the value of your CAB

What is a Customer Advisory Board?

A Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a marketing program made up of strategic customers who work closely with company executives to provide guidance on corporate strategies, offer input on products and services, and address and create solutions to industry challenges.

Ignite’s proven methodology and process for managing and evolving customer advisory boards has been developed from completing over 300 engagements for leading B2B companies.

Customer Advisory Board Best Practices from Forcepoint

Key components for a successful Customer Advisory Board

  1. Securing strong executive sponsorship and alignment on board objectives
  2. Having a compelling theme
  3. Client advisory board recruitment – having advisory board members who have equal stature to create an environment of peer exchange
  4. Having a mutually beneficial agenda – ensure that the agenda content is customer driven
  5. Strong follow up and ongoing management of the customer advisory board, after and in between in-person meetings
  6. Creating a sense of shared future
  7. Committing to active listening
  8. Keeping the customer advisory board action oriented

​Ignite Advisory Group is the Leading Global Authority on Customer Advisory Board Planning, Strategy, and Virtual Meeting Processes

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Customer Focus Drives Value

A well-designed and managed Customer or Partner Advisory Board enables B2B companies to:

  • Increase understanding of how the company’s products and services benefit customers
  • Increase understanding of how to best close product or service gaps and voids
  • Validate strategy and gain feedback for new ideas and product development
  • Gain internal alignment on customer perspective and go-to-market plans
  • Deepen relationships with top accounts
  • Increase market intelligence on competitor strategies
  • Strengthen customer advocates

The key to Ignite Advisory Group’s innovative and successful approach is structuring Customer Advisory Boards around common interests and concerns — so customers derive as much benefit from participation as the sponsoring company.

A tightly-focused and customer-driven client advisory board agenda that is aligned to your company’s strategic objectives, combined with a plan for ongoing engagement and actioning on insights from the board yields the greatest ROI.

Benefits and Strategic Impact of Client Advisory Boards

 Business Dimension

Functional AreasTypical Results
Strategy 
  • Plans and directions
  • Validation of thinking on business development, pricing, channels, sales force, marketing strategy, M&A, organizational culture
 Solutions
  • Overall service or product roadmap
  • Product introductions
  • Beta Customers 
  • Validate direction and approach, as well as feature set viability and functionality
  • Board member companies actively engage and preview product launches
  • Successful roll out of new offerings
Account Management
  • Key Account Management
  • Sales process and revenue 
  • Ensure business goal alignment for account managers
  • Orient sales process to real buying needs and cycles
  • Expand direct access to senior leadership
 Customer Satisfaction
  • Customer Loyalty
  • Increase executive engagement
  • Increase organic revenue
Marketing
  • Value propositions
  • Marketing spend and marketing mix
  • Thought Leadership
  • Clarify and distill relevant messaging
  • Revamp positioning and powerful branding
  • Optimize marketing ROI
  • Impact industry with effective subcommittee work products 

Customer Advisory Board Management Process

 

Why Customer Advisory Boards are Critical for B2B Companies

  • According to Harvard Business Review, CEOs spend only 3% of their time with customers. CEOs need to engage with customers and involve them in decision-making that drives value for the customer — and customer advisory boards are key to doing so.  (Source: Gallup Research)
  • Building emotional bonds with customers can net an average of 23% higher per-customer revenue when done right. (Source: Gallup Research)
  • Customer engagement and customer-centricity matters. Only 31% of B2B customers are fully engaged, meaning that 69% are indifferent or unengaged and ready to take their business elsewhere. (Source: Gallup Report)
  • Businesses that drive customer-centricity and focus on improving customer experience have greater competitive advantage. (Source: McKinsey Quarterly Executive Briefing)
  • Well-run customer advisory boards are powerful engagement programs that help companies enhance customer experience, encourage greater customer advocacy, improve product strategy, and drive business results. (Source: Gartner Research & Gartner Research)
  • Customer advisory boards can help build customer advocacy. Forrester Research shows that 79% of marketers who have turned their customers into advocates see increases in upsell, cross-sell, and enrichment. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • According to Forrester data, revenue from new logos accounts for nearly 23% of total revenue, while retained business plus growth via upsell and cross-sell account for the rest, 77%. How do you avoid losing those existing customers to the competition? Forrester recommends mining your customer advisory board for insights on which competitors are a potential threat to your customer base, and why. (Source: Forrester)

Watch our [Webinar On Demand] Customer Advisory Board Strategy and Planning: 12 Essential Questions to Consider for CAB Success

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Match Business Need with Board Type

Customer Advisory Boards differ by the type of executive engagement and the premise or theme of the Board. As you consider the best fit for your goals, Ignite Advisory Group experience finds that while there may be thematic crossover among the various Board types described below, they do not change the primary character of a Customer Advisory Board.

1. Customer Satisfaction Boards aim to improve customer satisfaction and ease of doing business.
  • Comprised of mid-to-low tier management or, in some cases, actual end users
  • Board focus on ensuring customer satisfaction with your offerings and discussion is primarily about how your organization can do that with better offerings, better services/support, and the like.

 

2. Product or Service Solution Roadmap Boards seek to leverage Advisory Board input on product and solution offerings and road maps
  • Comprised of users of the product/service
  • Boards designed to garner insight on improving the company’s offerings so they better meet customer needs. Typically these CABs get into deep dive on features, functionality and resulting benefits.
  • Often, this Board is organized by product line or line of business.
3. Strategic Boards seek to gain true strategic advisors to steer the business direction for the mutual interest of both parties.
  • Comprised of senior level executives
  • Focuses on critical issues and opportunities facing the industry that your organization can help its customers address.
  • These boards help drive your strategic direction and go-to-market strategy.
  • Roadmaps are essential resources and customer satisfaction is important, but the focus is on how the company attains or maintains industry leadership.
  • Often, organized by line of business with either vertical or horizontal member slates.

While many consider a Strategic Board to be the most ambitious undertaking, most companies find it is high-impact and productive for both the sponsoring company and its members.

Well-designed and executed Customer Advisory Boards increase executive customer dialogue, improve perceived and real service, as well as generate higher-level sales opportunities.

What is a Customer Advisory Board?

In this video, Ignite’s President, Eyal Danon shares the definition of a Customer Advisory Board, the key components to CAB success and overall best practices, and the types of CABs.

Customer Advisory Board Impact on Sales Growth

According to the Business Development Bank of Canada research on advisory boards, sales growth was stronger after creating an advisory board: 66.8% sales growth versus 22.9% growth in the same period prior to creating an advisory board.

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Sales Growth 3 Years Prior to Creating CAB

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Sales Growth 3 Years after Creating CAB

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Summary
What is a Customer Advisory Board?
Title
What is a Customer Advisory Board?
Description

What is a Customer Advisory Board? What are the key components of a Customer Advisory Board? What is the value proposition for your Customer Advisory Board? Is your Customer Advisory Board strategic, product, or customer satisfaction focused?