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

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&#

what is QBR
Source: Pexels

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
Source: Pexels

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.

What are the different common mistakes that CCMs make while conducting QBR?

Here are some of the common mistakes that CCMs make while conducting QBR:

Directly jumping into the facts

CCMs normally make the mistake of directly going into the crux of the matter instead of easing it smoothly. When the CCMS directly jumps into the facts, customers might miss out big on a story that they are not able to catch before. Hence, it is advised to follow a step-by-step process and then jump into the facts.

No particular agenda of the review

Being unprepared is the worst crime that CCMS can ever commit while participating in the QBR session. When you have a comprehensive agenda to address, QBR becomes easier to follow. Having an agenda in hand makes it better to address all the objectives and manage time effectively.

Concentrating only on past glory

There are times when CCMs are guilty of concentrating way too much on past results, which gives them quite less time on future planning. A successful QBR is all about projecting the future rather than glorifying the past. Although previous performance can throw light on the foundation, a good chunk of the meeting needs to be addressed to understand the next quarter’s needs.

Not encouraging enough participation in the review

A lot of QBRs are delivered as monologues where is not much participation. If you do not encourage customers to have an open dialogue to clear doubts, confusions, or changing goals by instilling trust and confidence. The motto of the review should be to make everyone on the same page.

No follow-up

If the CCMs do not follow up with the customers after the review, it will negatively impact the customers. The follow-up should cover all 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?

QBR seems to be a fun activity, but most of the CCMs are not aware of where to start from. This is where they can take the help of the email templates that we have mentioned below:

Inviting QBR for existing customers

CSM can utilize this email template to invite first-time QBR (Quarterly Business Review) for existing customers. While sending this email, remember to pitch into the existing customers by presenting the benefits that they can derive by attending this first-time QBR. 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.

Best Regards,

<<INSERT THE NAME HERE>>

Inviting QBR for new customers

CCMs usually do not invite new customers. But, there are exceptional cases where customers have just completed the onboarding and training session, and you want to give them a feel of your QBRs. This is where you can highlight the product benefits and what is in there for them to stay connected with your brand. Also, it is during such times when you inform them to voice their opinion and learn more about the product and provide feedback that can benefit both the customer and your brand.

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.

Best Regards,

<<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 the parties 
  • Attached performance reports (Reviewed during meeting) 
  • QBR video recording for virtual meeting (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.

Best Regards,

<<INSERT THE NAME HERE>>

Follow up after QBR with no action items

This email will help CCMs 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.

Best Regards,

<<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 the 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 customers ask in the QBR?

A: Here are some of the questions that customers should ask in the QBR:

  • 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.

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.  84

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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