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A Day in the Life of a CEB Executive Advisor

28 February, 2017

I’ve been asked to share with you what a “day in the life” looks like for a CEB Executive Advisor.

Scott Collins, Principal Executive Advisor 

I’ve been asked to share with you what a “day in the life” looks like for a CEB Executive Advisor. And, you know, I sat down to write this and the first thing that hit me was this: “There isn’t a typical day for a CEB Executive Advisor!”

How cool is that?  Because if you talk to any CEB Executive Advisor who’s been around for a while, one thing almost all of them will tell you is that each day is different. It’s one of the best, most attractive parts of this role. The conversations and meetings you get to have are in some way, shape or form, different; different topics, different executives, different industries, different companies.

What is an Executive Advisor?

So, what is an Executive Advisor at CEB? Executive Advisors bring CEB’s research, best practices, and tools to life. It’s the job of an Executive Advisor to understand our members’ organizations, marketplaces, current challenges, and the priorities they have in order to advise them on the best courses of action. We do that by asking insightful questions to diagnose the root causes of their challenges; we also might suggest a different course of action they haven’t considered or talk them through a best practice from a different industry that could work within their business. Ultimately, we help them take action and drive change.

You also might be wondering how one becomes an Executive Advisor. Executive Advisors come from a variety of places and backgrounds; many of us had experience in the functions we support. For example, I support Chief Sales Officers and their teams and I “carried a bag” as they say, spending many years in sales training and effectiveness. There are some that have grown up within CEB for many years, getting a diverse set of professional experiences. Additionally, many Executive Advisors have advanced degrees. While not required, my MBA has helped me have a broader GM-level understanding with the executives I support.

What does the experience look like? Here’s a glimpse into a day in the life of a CEB Executive Advisor.

Prepare for the Day

“How does a typical day for a CEB Executive Advisor start?” For me, that’s either with a workout, a cup of coffee, or both. I look at the calendar and ask myself, “What do I need to prep? What do I need to look at to ensure each member has a successful experience during his or her call?”

One thing I realized very early on as an Executive Advisor is that preparing for member conversations is critical. I have to review past conversations and understand the question or questions that led to the call. I look at which executives are on the call; do they know CEB or is this their first interaction with the company? What’s their expected outcome and goal of the conversation? And what’s CEB’s expected outcome? What next steps will I propose to ensure that the executives will take action after we speak?  And I’ve got to think about this for each of my calls for the day, which might be three, four, or eight. For today, it’s four, the first at 9:00 a.m.

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————————————————————————————————————-Delivering Member Impact

9:00 a.m.: My first call starts. I speak with a couple of senior sales executives at a Fortune 500 organization, including the Chief Sales Officer, her three direct reports, and the VP of Sales Operations. We talk about their challenges dealing with a customer consensus environment (which to me, isn’t surprising, as our CEB Sales research tells us the average number of B2B stakeholders in a purchase decision today is 6.8). During the call, I spend time early on asking questions to better understand what the team is observing, the impact those observations have had on the team, and some of the strategies or tactics they have tried in the past or already considered. With all of that, I can now share our data-backed recommendations and contextualize the recommendations for their market, customers, and sales so that it resonates, creates impact, and leads to our recommended solutions.

What do we find? This organization has a huge opportunity to rethink stakeholder management, customer engagement, account and deal strategy, and account planning. The conversation leads to several next steps with the team. There will be three more calls like this throughout the day, all about different member challenges and topics, such as managing global accounts, creating a sales enablement team, and better managing distributor relationships.

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———————————————————————————————————-Collaborate Across Teams

 1:00 p.m.: The day has a few internal meetings too. I’ve got a call with CEB commercial team members to strategize about member engagement. What’s our plan to ensure executives are finding value in the membership? Where do we need to focus? Who do I need to reach out to directly to reengage or follow-up from an earlier meeting to drive some next steps?

Then I’m off to a call with CEB Sales research team members, those creating great research content as well as tools and diagnostics for our members (they makes us sound very smart). We have a webinar to build over the next couple of weeks. Today, we talk about the story we want to tell; we’ve got brand new data about customer buying groups! Really cool stuff. But how do we turn that into a 60-minute webinar that is engaging, descriptive, and actionable for our diverse audience?  We share ideas and move presentation slides around. We each end up with our marching orders, and off we go: I’ve got to start writing talking points for the story we agreed on.

Next up is a one-on-one with my advisory analyst. We work closely together across members to deliver value by answering their questions and following up on next steps. We spend the time discussing his questions on a member situation that has come up, and I give him some coaching on his learning of CEB Sales research.

Travel for Member On-Sites

4:00 p.m.: The day has flown by (it almost always does). Time to head to Chicago O’Hare Airport. I’ve got a flight to Houston for a day spent with executives at our member sites there, which includes six meetings with three different companies. I owe some follow-up to the members I spoke with today; I’ll package that and send it while I’m at O’Hare or on the plane. Maybe I’ll run into you there sometime soon. It happens more than you’d think.

Interested in advising our members?  We’re hiring Executive Advisors in several of our office locations.

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