I have a simple mantra.

We live in a fast-paced world. And, whenever anything (everything) eventually becomes commoditized, the only true remaining differentiator will be the relationship your executives have with your customer decision makers. In fact, I will argue that even more important than a company’s brand is the trust that the leadership team engenders with their employees and customers.

What does it mean to trust a vendor?

While any good engineer or business manager will rely on sound analytics, product evaluations, and competitive comparisons, at the end of the day, all final decisions are driven by emotion. And, emotion is heavily influenced by trust.

  • Do your customers trust you to deliver the business value your product promises?
  • Do your customers trust that you care about him or her as a customer?
  • Do your customers trust that you will help him or her succeed on a personal, as well as a professional, level?
  • Do your customers trust that purchasing your product or service won’t make him or her look bad?

These are questions all executive teams should wrestle with.

The implications of this premise are key. Because to deliver trust, you must first prove to them that you understand the problems they are trying to solve. And, you must be able to communicate that the reason your brand exists is to add value that will help your customers succeed. Without this understanding, your long-term success will be limited.

Connecting with your customers builds trust

And so, my mantra: Whoever understands the customer best wins! This is my philosophy upon which I have build my CAB practice.

The Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a tool that enables leadership teams to better understand their most important customers. Asking them good questions, listening carefully to their answers (and the meaning, tone, and emotions behind their words), and thoughtfully considering their guidance is how leadership teams, and by extension their company and brand, earn their customers’ trust.

This is a process. It doesn’t happen after just one meeting. But, if your leadership team can commit to this new type of dialog and engagement strategy, they will create CXO-relationship “stickiness” so that even when your company makes a mistake (and you will), your customers will stay with you. They will trust you for the long-term. And that is how and why you will win and endure in today’s market.

What to read next

How to link your CAB to your executive planning offsite

3 Tips for building the business case for your Customer Advisory Board

Advice on how to interview your C-suite customers

Mike Gospe leads KickStart Alliance’s CAB practice.

Mike Gospe is a professional CAB facilitator for B2B companies with more than 30 years of B2B tech leadership experience. Since 2002, his market leadership and CAB best practices have helped large and small enterprises deliver more than 100 successful CAB engagements, To learn more about his tools, “how to” books, and custom engagements, please visit his CAB Resource Center or contact Mike.