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5 Things I Wish I Knew About Business Reviews as a Customer Success Manager

Asian Woman in Business Review

1. You and the client decide the cadence.

It's called a Quarterly Business Review, but this can be misleading. The cadence for the BR is solely up to you and the customer to decide. Now, for most companies, quarterly tends to be the most effective, but depending on the changing needs of your client and updates for your product, you might decide that bi-annual or annual Business Reviews make more sense. Your company might have preferred cadence on when to meet with customers, but ideally the frequency of the meetings is tailored to your audience.

2. Your audience should include executive stakeholders to be effective.

The BR or often called Executive Business Review (EBR) is intended to be for Directors, VPs or above who are economic buyers or sign the contract to continue using your solution. If they're not on the call, then you will not get your message across to the right people, especially when it comes time to renegotiate the contract, which can put the account in jeopardy. The goal is to provide your executive audience with a high level overview of the performance of your product and quite frankly, why they should continue signing the check.

3. You should speak as little as possible.

When a Business Review goes over time because the client was engaged and talking the whole time, I consider this to be a sign of a successful BR. The goal of the BR is to share your knowledge of the account and address the challenges (if any) so you can have an open dialogue about their perspective on the performance of the product versus your assumptions. Stop and pause with each slide for dialogue and ask open-ended questions. Have the client validate what you’re sharing and reaffirm that the objectives are aligned with their vision and what they want to achieve in the future.

4. A successful Business Review demonstrates ROI and uncovers opportunities for expansion.

The heart of the conversation lies in the value that they're getting from your product. Clients would often ask me, 'how can I use the product to its fullest potential?' Take this opportunity to highlight the value that the client is receiving from your solution as well as how they can further their return on investment or ROI. It demonstrates how your solution is helping their bottom line, justifying the cost. You should go one step further and help them understand what they can achieve beyond their current usage by unlocking further value from their current investment. This could be upsell, cross-sells or simply features that they don’t use, which will help you grow the account. As part of this, you should also focus on Success Planning to understand their future initiatives and how you can help them reach their goals.

5. Both parties should mutually benefit from the conversation.

This should not be a forced conversation from the CSM. I learned this the hard way when executives would no-show or not commit to the meeting. If your client is not mutually benefitting from the Business Review, you will have a hard time convincing Executive stakeholders to agree to the recurring meeting. Their time is valuable so it’s imperative that the agenda highlights areas that are important to you and the client.


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