Recruiting the Right CAB Members - #1 Biggest Challenge

I recently ran a poll on the LinkedIn group for CAB.org.  Many Customer Advisory Board (CAB) Program Managers belong to this group, so I thought they would be a great source for posing the question, "What is your most challenging obstacle in planning your CAB programs for 2012?"

From the three options provided, here are how the votes came in:
   14% - Executive team buy-in 
   50% - Recruiting the right members
   35% - Drafting an engaging agenda

I was not surprised by the results. After working with customer programs for over 7 years, this continues to be an area where we provide a great deal of assistance to our clients in building Recruiting Plans to help them successfully recruit their top customer executives.

If you're having difficulty recruiting the right members for your Customer Advisory Board, ask yourself these questions:

1. Have I developed the right profile for a CAB member?  Be sure you're aligned with your executive sponsor and stakeholders on the criteria for the ideal CAB member. Develop a profile outlining the characteristics they have identified as "must haves" and circulate among the team.
Meeting table
2. Do I have a defined process for recruiting? A consistent message and approach are important when reaching out to customer executives. Be sure your recruiters have the necessary tools to be successful (talking points, a clear Charter to help communicate the benefits of membership, etc.)

3. Are the right people recruiting?  Who in your organization owns the highest level relationship? This is who should be recruiting. If your target member is a senior executive, the owner of that relationship should extend the invitation; if no one owns that relationship, then a senior executive should extend the invitation.

4. Have I allowed enough time to recruit the right members? If you're trying to get C-level executives to join, their time is limited, and chances are they're already serving on several boards/councils. All the more reason to start the recruiting process early - at least 6 months prior to the meeting. If you get turned down, you'll have time to move on to the next candidate.

Watch for my next blog on Drafting an engaging agenda - the #2 challenge for CAB Program Managers.

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