A lot of organizations may have thought of this idea, but not many have ever executed on it. This investment in time could produce revenues that you never knew existed.
There is always an internal company Board of Directors which deals with your companies issues, opportunities and challenges so why not have one for your top customers and vendors…aren’t they probably the two biggest ingredients to your ongoing success?. Think of the value and business intelligence opportunity that you are missing by not engaging these two groups in a highly professional setting. This could be a new opportunity to truly showcase your company to your most influential audience while strengthening and building relationships
We have had our own personal experiences with these different type of Boards. Each to a different degree of success, but here are some initial best practices to consider.
- Board member selection: Certainly there are some challenges. In either case, you need non competing companies on your “Sales / Supplier Board”, people you can turn to for insights and advise. By doing this, you open up the lines of communication and your Board members feel free to speak their mind and share their ideas. You want their ideas and you want to hear their vision on the marketplace you service and what opportunities a company like yours have. A strong Supplier Board has a senior executive and a regional executive. Limit the number of companies to 5 or 6, with two visible, vocal leaders from each company
- Facilitation: A successful board meeting with these groups typically has the distributor doing the facilitation and listening role and actively engaging your Board members to help you navigate your business challenges and opportunities.
- Delivery and Execution:
- Make your meeting a two day event, starting with an evening dinner and state of the union and then a next day meeting which runs until mid-afternoon.
- Make your event a top class meeting. These are your key business partners and they are important to your future success. Make best use of everyone’s time. It is wise to work the agenda way in advance.
- Circulate topics and case studies you want their input on, send them your new ideas for discussion. Let them submit their topics also.
- Nail down 2-3 high impact topics and make sure your members are abreast of agenda and expectations/deliverables in advance.
- On the day of the meeting, facilitate the meeting but LISTEN more than you present. The key is listening to your “wise men” and then taking action and executing the outcomes of the meeting. You must take action!
Having C-level or key decision makers of your top customers or vendors sitting around the table, gathering their views on your company and LISTENING to their feedback for one day could be the highest impact day of your year. Yes, one day, listening to top executives tell you how your company can become better in their eyes! A great investment in time, resources and money. A great two way exchange.
Copyright © 2015 by John Salvadore
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