Business Tips, Customer Success | 10 MIN READ

How to Do a Successful Quarterly Business Review (QBR) Meeting: 10 Expert Tips

Here, we have listed the top 10 expert tips for conducting QBR meeting successfully to evaluate the performance of your clients made in the last quarter.

Shoeb Ahmed
Sep 10, 2020


QBR meeting

Just to recap, a QBR is a quarterly meeting you hold with your clients to review all the progress made in the last quarter and to share a plan. The plan is about how you can help clients derive more value from your product.

This sounds straightforward. It is easier said than done. When you set out for the actual preparation and execution of this meeting, there are many nuances you discover. What metrics to use? Which section to expand? Which ones to keep short? The list of questions is endless.

No matter how immersive your presentation is, the end-goal of this meeting is to strengthen the relationship with the client. This is the most important occasion to win their confidence and, thereby, ensure renewal of their contract.

So, let’s get straight to the tips that will help you conduct this meeting with excellence.

1. Invite the right personnel.

The QBR meeting should be with the key, client-side stakeholders. It can be either the Chief Marketing Officer, VP of Marketing and Sales, or any other decision-maker. In a nutshell, it should be someone who can make informed decisions on strategic initiatives.

The importance of QBR can only be realized by giving an abstract view of the whole quarter’s performance. This meeting does not go into the day-to-day details but gives a holistic picture of the path traversed. This is crucial to align strategies with the vendor’s offerings, plans, and roadmap ahead.

2. Start with the client’s goals.

If you are setting up a QBR meeting and you are not aware of your client’s goals, then you are unlikely to be successful at driving value. After sharing the Quarterly Business Review meeting agenda, client goals must be the first thing you should talk about. Ideally, these are set during the strategic discussions in the onboarding phase between client and CSM.

If your client does not have a specific, measurable goal, then it is your job to bring it out. If they say they are happy with the increasing customer engagement, it is not enough. You should ask specifically about the increase in the number of their daily active users, the increase in product adoption rate, and so on.

Consider the metrics you must compare between their goals and your accomplishments.

3. Next, consider the KPIs.

Once you have recapped the goals in the meeting, your next job is to show your performance toward achieving them. Use the right key performance indicators to show only the most valuable insights to them.

It is easy to get lost in vanity metrics especially when you are dealing with lots of quantitative data, but be patient and avoid showing them all. The impact you can achieve with just two or three KPIs can be far greater than the cumulative effect of multiple metrics. Keep it clean. Keep it simple!

4. Show achievements.

Revealing goals and accomplishments surely give some amount of satisfaction to the client, but nothing can boost their confidence more than the achievements you were able to make for them.

This will totally change the meeting. By sharing the areas where you exceeded their expectations, you will get their full attention. To cater to their curiosity, explain how you achieved those results, including what worked and what didn’t work. Revealing information on both ends gives them a holistic picture of your achievements.

5. Inform them of challenges ahead.

You must also inform the clients what challenges you face while helping them achieve goals. These challenges can be those that are met and not met. Explain what measures you took to overcome those challenges. This will show your tactical skills.

Also demonstrate why certain challenges could not be overcome. What collaboration and support do you need from the client? This should be explained clearly so that they get a clear sense of their responsibility in achieving business outcomes.

6. Share underlying opportunities.

The challenges discussed in the previous steps must be succeeded by opportunities that lie ahead. This is the chance for you to cover up the gaps identified in the previous step. Explain the ways you are going to transform those challenges into opportunities.

Detail the added benefits of overcoming the challenges. State clearly all your needs from their end that will be required for future opportunities.

7. Outline a roadmap for the future.

Taking cues from your achievements, challenges, and opportunities, create a roadmap for the future. Show your clients what areas you will be working on in the next quarter.

This is a crucial step, especially if you are in a subscriptionbased business. A roadmap keeps the customer aligned with your plans and ensures contract renewal. Without it, they may have nothing solid to bank on for further renewals.

8. Discuss value rather than tickets.

A QBR meeting is your one chance to win the customer. The key stakeholders are at your desk to give their valuable time and attention. A common mistake most professionals make in QBRs is that they discuss some specific ticket or features of their product. This lacks excitement for decision-makers.

They want to understand the value you are delivering to them. The best example would be to show saved costs through your product, the net increase in their customer acquisition, or anything of that sort. These are the numbers they care about. They care about the results and goals obtained in the whole quarter. Don’t waste their time with user-level incidents.

9. Identify new opportunities.

Pay close attention to anything a customer shares about their experience. It could be in the form of challenges, feedback, or maybe even a complaint. Avoid becoming defensive and open up a positive space for further understanding.

These needs can lead to further expansion of your business through upselling. Take all the cues of their evolving needs and expectations, bringing them back to your territory to build further strategies.

10. Leave some time for questions.

If the session is 60 to 90 minutes, then it is better to leave around 20 to 30 minutes in the end for a short Q&A session. This will help you gauge the happiness index of your customer. Take this time to also ask questions for yourself.

Get a sense of how likely they are going to renew their subscription for the next quarter. If there is a red alert, then it acts as an early warning of churn for your company. Based on that, you can take proactive measures to prevent churn.

On a positive note, it can also help you to know how much they have absorbed from your Quarterly Business Review presentation and how motivated they sound for the future roadmap you have shown them.

Quarterly Business Review Mistakes to Avoid

#Mistake 1: Monologue Meetings

It’s no good to see meetings that are nothing less than a scripted monologue. It is not only exhausting in nature but brings in no benefits to both the parties. And that is why most of the top-level customer success managers try to adapt a two-way communication. To that, they ask the ‘especially silent’ ones to contribute and partake in the discussion actively.

#Mistake 2: No Verdicts or Course of Actions

The primary target of the QBR meetings is to assist a customer in getting a solution. It is of high pertinence that you get a consensus on a requisite course of action. It shouldn’t be like the clients left with a ‘no clear verdicts’ situation. And as a Customer Success Manager driving the meeting, it is your responsibility to brainstorm ideas, suggest recommendations, eliminate irrelevant options, and then finally call for action.

#Mistake 3: No or Inadequate Pre-Plans

If you have an impending QBR meeting coming up, it would not hurt to check with some pre-plans in advance. To achieve this experience, buy-in ahead of time and unravel through the top most challenges and zero in on the priorities to cover. This will help you create an engaging atmosphere and a stellar QBR meeting, steering away from the unnecessary confusions.

#Mistake 4: No Follow-Ups

The whole point of the QBR meetings simmers down into nothingness when met with zero follow-ups. It is a follow-up that shows the customers that the CSM is thoroughly engaged and can provide a reliable review of the meeting. Also, look at it in this way – a meeting is complete only after a successful follow-up takes place.

Using PowerPoint Presentation for a Quarterly Business Review (Templates)

The Quarterly Business Review is a vital tracker that keeps a check on whether the goals discussed have been met in the previous quarter and what else can be incorporated in the next one to imbibe betterment. That is when the quintessential role of an outstanding PowerPoint Presentation comes into play to serve the purpose. Here are some notable templates and there links to give you the bigger picture.

Template 1

Peruse this customizable QBR slide sheet to present your business performance. It has been carefully designed to showcase the valuable data and information upfront and sums up the key objectives and results. It suits perfectly for remote online meetings that use video conferencing software. More on that, here.

Template 2

Answer the most crucial elements of your QBR with this template. This PowerPoint Presentation contains Sales Review, Team Review, and KPI Review templates to help you showcase a detailed Business Review to your senior management or client. More on that, here.

Template 3

Use this customizable QBR slide sheet outline with your team members and get a chance to shine and augment performance. You can seamlessly modify each slide to portray vital bits about the market or customers or the succeeding plan for the next QBR meeting. More on that, here.

Why Should you Conduct Quarterly Business Reviews?

Your company is bound to grow, (well, hopefully) and with this growth, you will soon discover taming relationships is not a cakewalk. Also, going for a one-to-one touch might seem more time consuming than ever. Therefore, to ensure that your relationships stay intact, you may need to take a rather structured approach. And one of the best ways of doing that is by scheduling QBRs with your top clients. Here are some pros-over-cons bullet points that support this:

  • QBRs help ameliorate a relationship between your client’s executives and your executives.
  • Further, you now have the opportunity to surface a fresh discussion about your clients’ overall health score and point out what else can be done to enhance the score.
  • QBRs aid in highlighting the return on investment (ROI) of your product. This can then be used to reinforce more value to your clients.
  • Better yet, they negate the chances of a customer’s low renewal scope once the subscription or contract ends with you.

Final Thoughts

These are a few of the most important tips worth remembering while preparing for a QBR meeting. In truth, a QBR can take many forms. It can turn into a feedback meeting, a sales pitch, a value proposition, or simply a review meeting.

The best criteria for deciding the form is the stage of the relationship with your customer. Only you know what will click for them most. Trust your intuition, and drive excellence into this meeting.

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Originally Published September 10th, 2020, Updated January 8th, 2021

Shoeb Ahmed

Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. Shoeb hails from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech Giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark.

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10 months ago

Simran Mohanty

Really useful tips and templates. Nicely drafted too. Well Done!

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