QBRs are all about planning. But some choices you make can either make the meeting one to remember or one that your customer never wants to attend again. So, to help you host a QBR meeting that’s value-packed and worth your customers’ time, we’ll cover what it is and five choices that can make or break it in this post.
What is QBR?
A QBR is a quarterly business review you hold with your customers. These meetings allow you to discuss your customer’s business, how your product adds value to it, and their future goals. In a typical quarterly business review, you go through all the progress made in the last 90 days, outlining your plan for the next 90 days. This forms an essential part of the CSMs responsibilities for helping a customer reach their Desired Outcome.
However, the value of your QBR all depends on how you conduct it, what choices you make, how deeply you evaluate its agenda, and how thoughtfully you execute it.
1. Is it really needed?
Yes and no. Not every customer is the same. So, whether your customer needs a QBR or not is on a case-by-case basis. Overall, make sure you’re looking at it to add value to their business. Not as another meeting with no real structure or purpose.
2. Should it be held quarterly or as needed?
Another question you must ask yourself is at what frequency should you hold these business review meetings. Should they be held quarterly, monthly, or on an as-needed basis? It depends on the complexity of your customer’s business.
If you are constantly monitoring customer usage, then you may find various blind spots. You should not wait for a quarterly review meeting to have these pointed out.
You can call for a meeting with a specific plan and demonstrate how they can achieve more value from your product. This meeting can be scheduled for a shorter interval on an as-needed basis.
Whereas, when the customer’s business outcomes take time to reflect in their quarterly report, a QBR can be beneficial. This is primarily relevant in a complex B2B scenario where business goals are measured and achieved in months or years.
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3. Should you have SMART or vague goals?
Understanding QBR’s importance, you probably see that you must have a clear goal in advance. Know the purpose of a quarterly business review, and you are more likely to succeed.
One of the best goal-setting exercises is mentioned in the book The Power of SMART Goals. It talks about setting up SMART goals, which are:
Your goal is not just “retaining customers” but a 90% retention rate, for example.
The goal is not just “to reduce the cost of acquisition” but to reduce it to 10% of the existing cost by the end of 2022’s final quarter.
If the churn rate is 30% then having a goal of reducing churn to 5% within a quarter is unrealistic. An achievable goal must be to reduce it to 20% within a quarter.
(This is just an example. Your context defines the achievable goals you can have).
Result-based goals are what makes them real in execution. Process goals, such as conducting a workshop, are not result-based. When results can be measured based on the feedback of your actions, you can check if your benchmarks are achieved.
Finally, there should be a timeframe within which you plan to achieve your goal. If no time frame is given, then you could take a huge amount of time to achieve the goal. A specific period brings in the aspect of accountability to your plan for achieving goals.
4. What should be the content of a QBR?
You want to go into this meeting prepared, so content is valuable.
So, what should your meeting contain?
Create an agenda for the entire meeting and circulate it to all the attendees in advance through email.
During the last quarter, what business outcome have your customers achieved through your product? Demonstrate value using data.
After showing what they have achieved, the best strategy is to show them what more they can achieve in the future. Share the goals and benchmarks you plan for them to achieve.
Share Your Action Plan
Sharing goals alone will not win confidence, you’ll also need to share your action plan. An action plan will help keep everyone on the same page on the next steps and helps keep all parties accountable.
5. Should you collect customer feedback in QBR?
Customer feedback is a valuable part of QBRs. With that being said, you shouldn’t wait until a QBR to see if your customers are having problems if you noticed changes in their usage. However, this feedback could help you address your customers’ problems with your product before the situation escalates.
What are the different common mistakes that CCMs make while conducting QBR?
Here are some of the common mistakes that CSMs make while conducting QBR:
Directly jumping into the facts
Every point you should cover in your QBR should lead to a discussion. While you might have a lot that needs to be covered, your customer might have a lot to unpack. But you can’t help them get to the root of the issue if you’re not having an active discussion with them.
Conducting a QBR without a solid plan isn’t beneficial to your customers. If anything, they might not attend the next one if they don’t see the value in it. So, create a plan for the meeting, ask questions, and ensure the right people are attending, so your customer can get the maximum value from it.
Concentrating only on the past
While there should be some focus on past performance, most of the meeting should focus on future goals.
Not allowing for enough participation in the review
Some CSMs unintentionally turn QBRS into monologues. Only covering the points they have and never leaving enough time for their customers to share their thoughts. The best QBRs are a two-way conversation and strategy session between you and your customer.
You can’t assume your customers will remember everything that was discussed during your QBR. Even if they were engaged throughout, people forget and miscommunication do happen. So, you should follow up with your customers after each meeting. Not only does this leave a positive impression on your customers, but it’ll help all parties get a clear picture of the points discussed during the review. It should allow customers to clear their doubts and ask questions with a more open line of communication.
What are the different QBR templates that CSMs can utilize?
Most CSMs aren’t sure where to start when planning for their QBR. So, below, we’ll share some email templates you can use for your QBRs.
Inviting QBR for existing customers
CSM can utilize this email template to invite existing customers to their first QBR. While sending this email, remember to explain the importance of your customers attending. Also, inform them that this is the first of many quarterly business reviews that you are going to host soon at regular intervals.
Hello <<INSERT FIRST NAME>>,
Thank you for being our continued user of <<NAME OF THE PRODUCT>>.
To ensure that you derive the maximum benefits from our product, we invite you to join us in a Quarterly Business Review session.
Through this review session, we will get the opportunity to share what is working for you regarding our product and what needs to be improvised.
This is the first of many QBRs that you will attend with us. We assure you that all the sessions will provide invaluable insights into our product.
Please provide a suitable time for you to connect for the session.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
<<INSERT THE NAME HERE>>
Inviting QBR for new customers
This QBR invitation is for new customers who have just completed their onboarding session.
Hello <<INSERT THE FIRST NAME HERE>>
It is heartening to see you conclude the onboarding process for our product.
To always assure you of our best services, we are inviting you to our first quarterly business review session.
During the session, you will have the opportunity to learn more about our product and voice your opinion about what needs to be improved.
We are confident once you attend this QBR session, you will be a regular attendee of the sessions moving forward.
Please let us know the best time for you to attend the session.
We will wait for your reply.
<<INSERT THE NAME HERE>>
Follow up after QBR with action items
This email will help you connect with the existing customers and ask them to share their opinions about the session and product. This is where you exchange meeting notes and ask them whether they would like to receive a copy of the quarterly business review presentation.
Hello <<INSERT THE FIRST NAME HERE>>,
It was great seeing you attend the QBR session. We hope you enjoyed being a part of it, and we will continue to improve on our product moving forward.
Here are some of the notes that we felt would be useful when we connect again.
- Discussed items (list)
- Action items for both parties
- Attached performance reports (Reviewed during meeting)
- QBR video recording for virtual meetings (in case it is required)
- Milestone dates if any agreed during meeting
In case you are looking for a copy of the presentation, please feel free to revert to this email, and we will be happy to provide that to you.
We will be conducting QBR sessions regularly in the future. But do not hesitate to email back if you have any doubts about our product.
<<INSERT THE NAME HERE>>
Follow up after QBR with no action items
This email will help CSMs follow up with the existing customers and ask them whether they would like to get a copy of the presentation. This email is not to exchange meeting notes, rather it is to ask your customers whether they still have any doubts or queries related to your product that can be deliberated upon.
Hello <<INSERT THE FIRST NAME HERE>>
It was a pleasure having you in our QBR session. We hope it was fruitful for you, and we will continue to move in the right direction in line with the points discussed.
If you wish to get the presentation copy, feel free to revert to this email, and we will be happy to send it across to you.
Also, if you have any doubts about the product, do not hesitate to post your questions and send them here. We will be conducting another QBR session in the near future.
<<INSERT THE NAME HERE>>
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q.1: What things need to be included in the QBR?
A: Here are some of the things that need to be included in the QBR:
- The complete scrutinization of execution of product usage objectives
- The overall performance of the company covered the past fiscal year
- Discussing strategic objectives and challenges
- The things that need to be done for the future
- Upcoming product enhancements and growth opportunities
Q.2: What questions should you ask your customers?
A: Here are some of the questions that should be asked:
- What do you wish to achieve in the next quarter?
- Are there any changes to the strategy since the last time the review was organized?
- Has our product or service helped achieve your objectives?
- Are there any things that you would like to see more often?
- Can we make any particular changes in the review to get better results?
Q.3: What is the importance of QBRs?
A: QBRs allow the companies to strengthen their relationship with their existing customers. It helps build a repo between the two parties, highlight the product’s ROI (return on investment), and understand the value it derives in the eyes of the customers.74
Ultimately, when deciding the ends and outs of your QBR meetings, remember that no one-size-fits-all. The choices you’ll make for one customer may not work for the next customer. And vice versa. But if you plan each QBR with the intent of helping your customers succeed, you’re on the right track to creating quarterly business reviews that are valuable and memorable.
Anshi has over 12 years of experience in demand generation, digital marketing, and managing global teams. In her prior role as head of marketing operations for a high growth US healthcare tech organization she transformed marketing from cost to revenue center.
Published September 08, 2020, Updated September 08, 2022