Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) are a very common way to engage with the client and show the value of your work to senior contacts. However if not done correctly, they could ultimately become damaging to your relationship.
In many businesses, there is typically a formal client meeting of which one of the most popular styles is the Quarterly Business Review. The agenda for these will vary massively company by company, but the main aim is to try and show the value of the work you’ve done for the last quarter, and agree to what you should be planning for the next.
QBRs are important as it gives you an opportunity to engage with senior contacts, hopefully, the budget holder and decision maker. However, it’s easy to get QBRs wrong, leaving you with a tactical meeting that offers little value to either side.
A strong agenda. And that’s the same for any type of meeting you ask the client for. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen CSMs fire out emails along the lines of:
“I realise we’re probably overdue a catch-up, do you and the team have 1.5hrs free on the week of X?”
I know what the reply will be:
“We’re pretty busy at the moment with project X, what’s the purpose of the meeting?”
A much better approach would be:
“Hello. We are due our QBR next month and there’s a number of important topics we’d like to cover:
We have openings on Wed 13th, etc etc”
It’s also very important that you use QBRs as a way to engage with senior contacts at the client, a strong and targeted agenda will help you ensure they attend. A weak agenda will often see you left with presenting to just your end-user and the conversation will naturally become tactical.
You also want to ensure you have good high-level topics to discuss. Ask about how their business is doing, have they had any successes whilst using your platform recently? If your software is sold on a seat license basis, this is a great time to see if there are other departments in the business they could potentially take one. And the ultimate question I love to ask “If the contract was up tomorrow, would you renew?” (Which of course you should already have a very good idea on what their answer would be.)
Low-level tactical details should be left out. Don’t be tempted to show how many support tickets have been closed or the number of emails answered. This is not added value work. You might also not want to invite your day-to-day contact. Having them in the room can often lead to questions such as “Did you ever fix that reporting issue I had?” It’s a very valid question, but there are better times for it. Don’t go slide crazy either. Sure you might want some sort of presentation to keep the agenda on track, but a QBR is great for just having a conversation. 5 slides max, should keep everyone happy.
Maybe not. And I’ve seen first hand where these meetings were never at a regular quarterly frequency and got renamed to Executive Business Review. For me, there are two main reasons for not holding a QBR:
In relation to the first point, this is really all on you. You have to come up with a compelling agenda that warrants the senior contacts you want to be talking to in the room. You might have to get support from the rest of your business such as your CEO, or VP of Product coming along, but this is a good thing. And if you just don’t have enough content for holding a meeting each quarter, propose a different frequency to the client. The last thing you want to do is to become an annoying and needy vender always pestering for meetings. Feel free to ask the client on what basis would they want to hold senior meetings. After all, you are working in a client-centric department so let them guide you.
The second point can be a bit tricky. I saw a question on a Customer Success forum recently that asked for advice on when a client drops down a tier and shouldn’t really get a QBR what do you do? Ultimately you should have clear definitions of your tiers and the client really should be aware from the sales process of what tier they are in. QBRs can be costly from a time point of view and expensive, particularly if you have to travel to get on-site, and as a consequence not all tiers should be offered a QBR. That said I’ve had personal experience of certain clients not qualifying for QBRs but I held them anyways as there were both inexpensive to get to, and importantly I always got great feedback from the client into their usage of the product and how it was helping across their business. You can’t always buy that.
QBRs can be a very valuable touchpoint for you and the client, but make sure it is actually delivering what you want it to. Take some time to ask the client if the format works, and measure how useful the outcomes are for both of you. Get the format wrong, and it can become a challenge to your relationship.
Simon has over 10 years helping clients achieve their goals through the use of software. Having previously lead Customer Success teams in London, Europe and New York City, Simon now owns Kupr Consulting working with B2B SaaS companies to improve their Customer Success teams and processes.
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