They may sound intimidating, but Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are a powerful tool used on Customer Success teams to help you engage your clients. If executed successfully, they will leave a lasting impression on your clients and help you strengthen the relationship. You may be thinking, how do you exactly do that? Well, we're going to discuss strategies to help CSMs create a winning QBR.
QBRs are a great way to assess your clients' performance and identify areas for improvement. By having an open dialogue, you can gain valuable insights, which can help you tailor you tailor products and services that help you meet the clients' needs and create a strong relationship. During a QBR, you typically review the clients' progress towards achieving their goals and discuss any challenges they have faced. You also evaluate their performance against key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify any areas where they have fallen short. This information can then be used to develop strategies for improving performance and achieving future goals.
QBRs are not just beneficial for your company, but also for the customer's business and bottom line. These regular meetings can provide an opportunity for customers to provide feedback on the products and services they have received, which can help you improve your offerings. By conducting QBRs on a regular basis, you can build strong customer relationships and ensure their continued loyalty. We'll discuss some best practices of running a successful QBR session in this article.
What is a Quarterly Business Review in Customer Success?
A Quarterly Business Review, which is also called an Executive Business Review (EBR) is a meeting held between a company and executive stakeholders to review the company's performance and progress. It is typically conducted every quarter, hence the name, and is a great way to enhance partnerships, engage the executive team, and help the customer to see the value proposition of the product or service.
During a QBR, you present an overview of the company's performance from the past quarter, including key metrics, milestones, and achievements to make sure the partnership is on the right track. It also discusses any challenges faced and the steps taken to overcome them. Additionally, you may provide insights into upcoming initiatives, product updates, or new offerings to help them achieve their desired outcome.
The purpose of a QBR is to foster open communication between you and your clients, build stronger relationships, and ensure that you are meeting the needs of your customers. It also provides an opportunity for you to receive feedback and make any necessary adjustments to its strategy or approach. QBRs typically involve multiple stakeholders from both sides, including executives, managers, and subject matter experts.
The meeting format may vary depending on the company and client's preferences, but it usually involves a presentation followed by a Q&A session. Overall, QBRs are an essential tool for maintaining transparency, building strong relationships, and ensuring that a company is meeting its clients' needs. By conducting QBRs regularly, you can stay informed about their clients' changing needs and adapt their strategies accordingly.
How To Prepare For A successful QBR
Preparing for a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) can be a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can be a valuable opportunity to showcase your team's accomplishments and strengthen your relationship with the client. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful QBR:
1. Do your Research
Before the QBR, gather all relevant data points that you will need to present. This includes metrics such as Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), customer health scores, customer satisfaction, and retention rates. It's important to have a clear understanding of the client's goals and how your team has contributed to achieving them. The data that you share should tell a story.
2. Set Objectives
Set objectives for the QBR that align with the client's goals. This is the best way to get buy-in from the client ahead of scheduling the meeting. Clients will want to know why they should spend their limited time to attend a meeting with you. What should they expect to get out of this meeting? This will help you stay focused and ensure that you are presenting information that is relevant and valuable to the client. Make sure to communicate these objectives with your team so that everyone is on the same page. Here is a example of an objective for the QBR:
The goal of this QBR is to share your performance and adoption of the product, opportunities to gain more ROI from the platform and how we can better support your 2024 business goals to double revenue.
The attendees in the meeting are just as important as the content of the meeting. There should be attendees from both sides. As a CSM, you work closely with other teams and based on the discussion, you could have leaders from Product or Sales teams to share updates or address any concerns. You have to make sure that the relevant stakeholders are invited to the meeting including the executive sponsor so that your message is communicated to the right team members. At the end of the day, the executive sponsor or economic buyer should understand the value of your product and why they should sign the check.
Visibility into the agenda will also get buy-in. Draft up an agenda slide that matches the objectives of the meeting. Share the agenda beforehand with the client to ensure that you will be able to cover the areas that important to them. Remember, this is a 2-way conversation so you should both mutually benefit. During the presentation, you should also ask if there is anything that your client would like to cover, but hopefully with this step, there will be no surprises. Here are some agenda items to consider:
5. Prepare a Presentation
Create a presentation that is clear, concise, and visually appealing. Use graphs, charts, and tables to present data in a way that is easy to understand. Some data points to present to focus on include product usage, milestone achievements or efficiency metrics such as increased output or reduced costs. Make sure to highlight your team's accomplishments and how they have contributed to the client's success.
6. Anticipate Questions
Anticipate questions that the client may have and prepare answers in advance. This will help you to be more confident and prepared during the QBR. It's also a good idea to have a backup plan in case something unexpected comes up.
7. Open Items
The QBR also presents an opportunity to address open items that are impacting the account. Typically, you would use your regular meetings to address concerns with product or service being provided, but if this is an ongoing concern, then it's a good way to communicate that the issue is top of mind for your and your team. For example, if there is a feature that the client has requested and they have threatened to churn over this issue, then communicating updates throughout various touch points is critical in maintaining the sentiment of the account.
Practice your presentation and anticipate potential challenges. This will help you to be more comfortable and confident during the QBR. Make sure to also practice your delivery and timing to ensure that you stay within the allotted time frame. You should have open-ended questions prepared for each slide to spark conversation. As the CSM, you should use active listening skills and speak as little as possible. Pause for comments and feedback and let the client know you want this to be a 2-way conversation.
Overall, preparing for a QBR requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following these tips, you can ensure that you are presenting valuable information and strengthening your relationship with the client.
Product Usage And Adoption
One of the key components of a QBR is to review the customer's product usage and adoption. This allows the you to gain a deeper understanding of how the customer is using the product and identify areas where they may need additional support or training. During the QBR, you should provide a detailed report with metrics such as the number of logins, features used, and any trends over time. This information can be presented in a table or graph format to make it easier for the customer to understand. The CSM should also review the customer's adoption of the product and identify any roadblocks that may be preventing them from fully utilizing the product's features. This may include a review of the customer's onboarding process and any challenges they may have faced during implementation such as change management issues.
To address any roadblocks in product adoption, you can work with the customer to develop a plan for additional training or support. This may include providing access to additional resources such as training videos or scheduling additional training sessions with the customer. Overall, reviewing product usage and adoption during the QBR is essential for ensuring that the customer is getting the most value out of the product. By identifying areas where the customer may need additional support, you can work with the customer to bridge any knowledge gaps to set the client up for success.
An important aspect of a Quarterly Business Review is benchmarking. Benchmarking is the process of comparing a company's performance metrics against industry standards or competitors. By benchmarking, companies can identify areas where they are excelling and areas where they need improvement.
During a QBR, benchmarking can be used to show a customer how they are performing compared to their industry peers. This can help the customer understand where they stand in the market and identify areas where they can improve. Benchmarking can be done in a variety of ways. One common method is to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure a company's performance. KPIs are quantifiable measurements that companies use to track progress towards their goals. By comparing KPIs to industry standards or competitors, companies can gain insights into their performance and identify areas for improvement.
Another way to benchmark during a QBR is to use customer feedback. By collecting feedback from customers, companies can understand how they are perceived in the market and identify areas where they can improve. This feedback can be collected through surveys, focus groups, or other feedback mechanisms.
QBRs are an essential tool for any business looking to grow and retain its customer base. One of the key aspects of a QBR is measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) that the customer is getting from the product or service being offered. Measuring ROI can be a complex process, but it is essential for understanding the value that the product is providing to the customer. Some of the key metrics that can be used to measure ROI include:
Revenue generated by the product or service
Cost savings achieved by using the product or service
Time saved by using the product or service
Increased productivity resulting from the use of the product or service
By measuring these metrics, businesses can get a clear understanding of the value that they are providing to their customers. This information can then be used to identify areas for improvement and to make changes to the product or service that will increase its value to the customer. It is important to note that measuring ROI is not a one-time event. It should be an ongoing process that is reviewed regularly as part of the QBR. By doing this, you can reinforce that your product or service is providing ongoing value to your customers.
A Product Roadmap is a visual representation of a product's strategy and direction. It is a high-level plan that outlines the goals, initiatives, and milestones needed to achieve the product vision, which includes product updates and releases based on customer feedback. Clients are eagerly awaiting these updates as they are invested in key features that align with their business initiatives or that they have provided feedback on. Quarterly Business Reviews are an excellent opportunity to present and review the product roadmap with stakeholders. During a QBR, the product team should provide a detailed overview of the product roadmap. This should include the product's strategic direction, key initiatives, and milestones for the upcoming quarter. The team should also discuss how the product roadmap aligns with the company's overall goals and objectives.
Typically, the Product Roadmap is created by the Product or Marketing team to share the upcoming initiatives with their broad customer base. It's important to highlight any changes or updates to the roadmap since the last QBR. Keep in mind that the product roadmap is a living document and subject to change. The team should be prepared to discuss any challenges or obstacles that may impact the roadmap's execution. This can include changes in market conditions, customer feedback, or resource constraints. Overall, the product roadmap is a critical component of any QBR. It provides stakeholders with a clear understanding of the product's direction and progress.
Product Features and Upsells and Renewals
Quarterly Business Reviews are an excellent opportunity for Customer Success Managers to discuss upsell and renewal opportunities with their customers. Upselling is the process of encouraging customers to upgrade or include add-ons to the product or service they are already purchasing. Renewals, on the other hand, refer to the process of extending a customer's existing contract.
During a QBR, CSMs can discuss the benefits of upgrading to a higher-tier plan or adding additional features to the existing plan. You can also highlight how these upgrades can help the customer achieve their business goals. By discussing upsell opportunities, you can ensure that the customers are getting the most value out of their product or service.
Renewals are a crucial aspect of any business, and QBRs provide an excellent opportunity to discuss renewal opportunities with customers. You can use QBRs to review the customer's contract and discuss any necessary changes or extensions. You can also identify any potential issues that could prevent the customer from renewing their contract and work to address those issues proactively. By discussing upsell and renewal opportunities during QBRs, you can help ensure that your customers continue to see the value of their product or service. It also provides an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the customer and build trust.
Success planning is a crucial aspect of Quarterly Business Reviews. During a QBR, a company can review its progress towards achieving its goals and objectives. Success planning involves setting specific and measurable goals that align with the company's overall strategy and then tracking progress towards those goals.
One effective way to set goals during a QBR is to use the SMART framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By setting SMART goals, a company can ensure that its objectives are clear, measurable, and achievable within a specific timeframe.
Once goals are set, it's important to develop an action plan for achieving them. This plan should include specific steps that need to be taken to achieve each goal, as well as timelines and responsibilities for each step. By breaking down goals into smaller, achievable tasks, a company can make progress towards its objectives and stay on track throughout the quarter.
During a QBR, it's also important to review any obstacles or challenges that may be preventing the company from achieving its goals. By identifying these obstacles and developing strategies to overcome them, a company can stay focused on its objectives and make progress towards success.
Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are an opportunity for companies to receive feedback from their clients. This feedback is valuable because it helps businesses to improve their products, services, and overall customer experience. During the QBR, companies can ask their clients about any issues they have experienced and work to resolve them.
One effective way to gather feedback during a QBR is to use a survey. Surveys can be sent out prior to the meeting to gather information about the client's experience. This allows the company to address any issues before the meeting and come prepared with solutions. During the meeting, the company can review the results of the survey and discuss any concerns or suggestions with the client.
Another way to gather feedback is to ask open-ended questions during the meeting. This allows the client to provide detailed feedback and suggestions. Companies can use this information to improve their products and services and enhance the overall customer experience. It is important for companies to be receptive to feedback and take action to address any issues raised during the QBR. This demonstrates to clients that their feedback is valued and that the company is committed to providing excellent service. By actively seeking and incorporating feedback, companies can build stronger relationships with their clients and improve their business practices.
After discussing the performance of the previous quarter and identifying areas of improvement, it's time to set action items for the next quarter with your new goals. Action items are specific tasks that need to be completed to achieve the goals set during the QBR meeting. With next steps, it's the perfect opportunity to discuss future plans.
To ensure that action items are effective, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This means that each action item should have a clear deadline, assigned owner, and defined success criteria.
One effective way to track action items is by using a table. The table can include columns for the action item, owner, deadline, and status. This makes it easy to see who is responsible for each task and whether it has been completed on time.
Another helpful tool is to use bullet points to break down larger action items into smaller, more manageable tasks. This can help ensure that progress is being made on each action item and that nothing falls through the cracks.
During the QBR meeting, it's important to assign ownership of each action item to a specific individual or team. This helps ensure that everyone is clear on their responsibilities and that progress is being made on each task.
Set up a regular meeting to discuss strategic planning and to measure progress on the customer's goals ahead of the next quarterly review.
Action items are a crucial part of the QBR process. By setting specific tasks with clear deadlines and assigned owners, businesses can ensure that progress is being made towards their goals and that everyone is working towards a common objective.
Once the meeting is complete, now comes the critical part. It's one thing to discuss objectives, but following through with the plan of action is where you will actually win the trust of the client.
Send a follow up email with the the list of assigned tasks, dates and owners.
Answer any questions that came up during the QBR.
Set up calendar dates for next steps and meetings. You can even plan the next QBR.
By taking these measures, you are taking accountability for the team and following through with your actions, and as a byproduct, creating a solid and loyal relationship with the client.
Get a free QBR Template here.