The lifeblood of your customer advisory board is the group of strategic customers you have sitting on it. Therefore, it is imperative you have a sound strategy for bringing the best customers onto your board. By “best” I don’t necessarily mean the customers that spend the most with you or that have brought you the most referrals. What I am talking about is which customer(s) can offer you the specific insight you are looking for in terms of your product and business direction moving forward. These are the best candidates for your advisory board.
Although an exciting time, customer advisory board member recruitment can be challenging for some organizations, especially if you don’t have the right level of relationships within your customer organizations. To help you maximize your recruitment efforts, here are some best-practice tips to consider:
1. Work with your sales team to identify customers your organization has the best relationships with
2. Carefully map out who your target members are and then categorize them by tier 1 and tier 2. Once you have received a yes or no answer from every tier 1 prospective member, you can move on to tier 2s.
3. Craft a very professional and sincere recruitment letter from your CEO/President inviting the prospective member to the board and highlighting some of the key benefits to members.
4. Assign “recruiters” to each target member. These recruiters should be those individuals within the organization that have the absolute strongest relationship with the target members.
5. Require recruiters to make their invitations via phone or in-person. DO NOT rely on email for this very important exercise.
6. Arm your recruiters with the CEO/President letter and key talking points to use when speaking with the prospective member. These should be about the member benefits, key topics to be discussed, access to your senior team, etc.
7. Develop a CAB charter document and send it to each prospective member to help them understand the full scope of the board.
8. Have twice-monthly touch-base calls/meetings with all recruiters to hold people accountable and to keep the recruitment momentum going full steam ahead.
9. Have a firm/location in mind for the inaugural in-person meeting and have recruiters share that with prospective members. This makes the board seem the most concrete and real.
10. Assign senior executives to assist with recruitment if necessary. Sometimes the recruiter (a senior sales person, e.g.) might introduce the idea to the prospective member and then one of your senior executives can follow-up to bring it home. This strategy works well.
While these are only some of the important points to consider, these should definitely help get you started on a very successful CAB member recruitment campaign.