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What is a Quarterly Business Review (QBR): 5 Choices That Make or Break It

what is QBR
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If you are into customer success, then you understand the need to demonstrate value to the client in a timely manner. The business environment of both the client and vendor is always in a state of flux. Doesn’t it make sense to meet your client on a monthly or quarterly basis to catch up with developments? That’s what QBR is all about—and much more than that.

When thinking of a quarterly business review, you may wonder what the purpose of the meeting is. You may ask what needs to be discussed and how the developments are reviewed by both sides. Look into all these details, beginning with its definition.

What is QBR? 

A QBR is a quarterly review meeting you hold with your customers. It is conducted to discuss their business and how you can add more value. In a typical quarterly business review presentation, 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 delivering a client’s business outcomes.

Most companies conduct their internal reviews every fiscal quarter to keep a check on their revenues and other parameters. The origins of the QBR, or executive business review, can be traced back to that. The only difference being this quarterly review extends to external vendors as well.

A quarterly business meeting is mostly done in-person, but companies conduct it remotely as well. It is more than a simple check-in since it requires extensive planning and strategy.

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. The choices are many, but below are the top five ones to consider for a QBR.

1. Is it really needed?

If you search around online for this question on QBR, you will likely find the viewpoint that it is unnecessary or even “dead.” Not to dismiss this melodramatic viewpoint (“QBR is dead!”), but let us an analytical view. Based on that view, you can decide for yourself if it suits your context or not.

When is it needed?

If you are at the beginning phase of a startup, it is easy to maintain relationships with your customers. But, when you start scaling, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep in touch with every customer. You need to schedule their meetings in longer intervals. A quarterly meeting with them becomes of the utmost importance.

This is also a time to elevate your observation from their day-to-day queries which falls under customer support toward looking at real, long-term progress. The strategies can be built according to these timelines and can be demonstrated to customers in a QBR.

When is it not needed?

In a fast-moving business, especially in a B2C environment, your needs are mostly short term. You must be a hyper-sensitive firm where business breakthroughs occur overnight. In this scenario, your customers are more focused on achieving value over days or weeks and customer churn is also high as large potions of revenue depend on one-off purchases.

In such a case, a QBR would not be of much importance. Regular weekly monitoring of customer usage and a tech-touch engagement would suffice.

2. Should it be held quarterly or as needed?

Another question you must ask yourself is about the right frequency of this review meeting. Should this be 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. Rather, over the course of your relationship, if you keep adding value on a regular basis, you won’t need a QBR.

You can call for a meeting with a specific agenda and demonstrate how they can achieve more value from your product. This meeting can be scheduled in 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 mostly relevant in a complex B2B scenario where business goals are measured and achieved in months or years.

3. Should you have SMART or vague goals?

Understanding what QBR is and its 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 the SMART goals which are:

Specific

Your goal is not just “retaining customers” but a 90% retention rate, for example.

Measurable

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 2020’s final quarter.

Achievable

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

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.

Time-bound

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 of time brings in the aspect of accountability to your plan for achieving goals.

4. What should be the content of a QBR?

content of a QBR
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A QBR is a single chance to bolster your image in the eyes of your customer’s key stakeholders. You want to go into this meeting with preparation so content is valuable. You should also prevent yourself from driving a dull meeting.

So, what should your meeting contain?

Agenda

Create an agenda for the entire meeting and circulate it to all the attendees in advance through email.

Demonstrate Value

During the last quarter, what business outcome have your customers achieved through your product? Demonstrate that with hard numbers and right metrics.

Share Goals

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. Until you show customers how you plan to achieve them, they will not buy in. You must set expectations clearly for the sound collaboration you will need.

5. Should you collect customer feedback in QBR?

You must build an environment for an honest and open discussion. A customer should feel welcomed for sharing their views on your service. However, drive the conversation in such a way that they do not shower you with negative feedback only. It will have a disastrous impact on other stakeholders.

However, respond to negative feedback quickly with recovery steps and actions that you will take. Customer feedback can consume some time but make sure that it does not become the main agenda of the meeting.

Final Thoughts

There’s no one who knows the inner reality of your business better than yourself. Based on the information provided, you can decide whether you need it or not. If you think it will help your customer to buy into your product and experience, then consider holding a QBR with customers so that you can learn about their pain points and equip them with the resources they need to excel at using your service.  

If you do, make sure to do proper planning and show your best to customers. Using a quarterly business review template can help you plan better.

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