Customer Success

QBR Best Practices: How to Conduct Successful Quarterly Business Review Meetings

A Quarterly Business Review (QBR) is a valuable way for business managers to showcase ROI and maintain positive relationships.

Introduction

A Quarterly Business Review (QBR) is a valuable way for business managers to showcase ROI, maintain positive relationships and upsell more solutions.

But it’s a challenge in itself. Why? 

Not so many people know how to conduct or do a quarterly business review. 

From planning the QBR meeting to getting the executive sponsors and champions to the QBR meeting is challenging.

This causes most QBRs to fail to get desired results. 

To succeed in your quarterly review meetings, you need to understand what a QBR is, why it’s important and some key quarterly business review best practices.  

What is a QBR in business?

QBR, a quarterly business review, is a once-per-quarter meeting or touchpoint meeting you hold with your customers. QBRs can also be referred to as business reviews or executive business reviews (EBR). Most companies conduct face-to-face QBRs, but they can also be virtual.

The focus of QBR is value and technical questions rather than status. For example, the customer reviews the impact of your service or product on their business. 

 A QBR is a chance for you (a business) to show off ROI and connect with your customers on a deeper level, also forwarding your business’s mission. 

Typically, a QBR meeting covers the following.

  • Assessment of customer progress, within 90 days, toward pre-set in previous QBR meetings.
  • Analysis of the factors impacting the performance.
  • Update customer goals, strategies and KPIs for future improvement planning.

What a quarterly business review is not

It’s also crucial to understand what a QBR is not.

  • It’s not the time or place to ask technical or support questions.
  • It’s not an opportunity to plan training for your customers.
  • It’s not the right place to talk about your business/product or business proposal

When you walk into a review meeting, your goal is to understand your customer and their business in-depth. You’ll also demonstrate the value and impact your product/service has achieved.

Why is QBR important?

QBRs are essential to customer success programs because they provide a structured plan that ensures your customer-relationship-building efforts don’t fail. The key benefits of QBRs are:

Forge stronger customer relationships

QBRs provide an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of your customer’s business and plans. This helps reveal important information that can help you carve out more positive customer experiences and value and create stronger partnerships.

Understanding value

Customers may sometimes need more perspective on your product. A QBR is an opportunity to demonstrate how valuable (and impactful) your product is to their business through KPIs), survey data and other metrics.

Create clearer direction

Businesses use QBR meetings to open up honest discussions about their customers’ overall health, plans and how to improve their status. This helps create a clear direction between your business and the customer on what to do and towards which KPI and goal.

Show off ROI

QBRs allow you to highlight the ROI of your product/service and reinforce your value to your customer while also forwarding your business’s mission. And they provide rare but important raw materials to spur strategies that deliver more value.

Align goals

Customers evolve their goals for your service/product over time to keep up with the shifting market demand. A QBR allows you to discuss new goals and ensures your actions align with the changing customer needs.

Build more trust

QBR meetings demonstrate to your customer how serious you are about providing ROI and that you review it within 90 days to see success. This positions you as a trustworthy business adviser rather than a profit-interested vendor and builds trust with the customer to solidify your relationship.

Spot early warning signs

QBRs allow you to identify and prevent customer churns even before they occur. Regular conversations allow you to pick up on negative customer feedback and rectify any problems before the customer breaks. Otherwise, customers may suffer in silence and end the contract without warning.  

A QBR isn’t like any other business or face-to-face meeting. It’s an opportunity to engage with your customer deeply, understand their business and demonstrate your impact on their business. It’s also a chance to understand what your customer is looking for in the future. This requires a proper plan and careful execution.

What is included in a QBR 

Simply put, to be successful, QBRs follow a clear strategy and structure. So, when planning a QBR meeting, you need to consider the following.

  • Meeting time. Keep the QBR meetings short and brief. 
  • Agenda. The agenda encompasses the goals for the past 90 days and the future 90 days.
  • Meeting invitations. Send meeting invitations with a summary of your KPI report, analysis and recommended steps to the meeting attendees.
  • Meeting members. Who will attend the QBR meeting, who should lead the meeting and who should take notes?
  • Presentation aids. Prepare presentation aids (if any) you want to incorporate during the meeting, such as graphs, illustrative stories, summarized data, etc.
  • Goals. Your customer’s strategic goals, your strategic goals and joint strategic goals.
  • Business Review. Business ROI and a list of KPIs benchmarks from the last QBR meeting and progress toward them. Also, analyze KPI data to identify trends and shifts.
  • Discussion of strategic obstacles and challenges.
  • Feedback. Plan time to discuss and accept constructive feedback. 
  • Future planning. A list of customer KPIs and goals for the next quarter. Also, create a list of recommended action steps to propose to the client.

Who should attend a QBR?

A QBR meeting is a high-level meeting between business and client executives. It can include as few as two people or many parties from your business and your client’s company.

Also, every QBR meeting should include at least one representative from your customer success team and from your client. Beyond this, attendees can be determined by who must be involved for you and your customer to review performance and progress, make future plans and buy decisions.

The possible QBR meeting attendees may include:

  • Managers.
  • CEOs.
  • Chief operations officers.
  • Procurement managers.
  • VPCustomer success or Chief of customer happiness. 
  • Tech support personnel.
  • Customer success managers.
  • Other stakeholders, like investors.

When considering QBR meeting attendees, take notes of who will be making decisions for your customers on contract renewal. The decision-makers should be involved in the meeting as key attendees or just kept in the loop for input.

11 QBR best practices for a successful meeting

The following are 8 best practices for conducting effective and successful quarterly business reviews.

#1. Invite the right people

Ensure your QBR team invites the right executives to represent both your company and your client’s company. This will help you talk to the right stakeholders, including decision-makers who will renew the contract.

#2. Create a clear QBR meeting agenda or plan

Prepare a QBR Plan in advance to guide your meeting and avoid wasting everyone’s time. A QBR without a plan or strategy also puts you at risk of churn.

So create a QBR meeting plan with an agenda and ensure all attending parties receive it ahead of the meeting time. A focused agenda will allow customers to craft their important questions or points of discussion early enough. 

Some information to include on the agenda are:

  • A review of product/service performance over the past period.
  • Value and Business RIO.
  • Upcoming product updates and their intended impacts. 
  • How performance compares pre-set goals.
  • A discussion of the gaps or challenges and how to prevent them. 
  • An action plan to address future goal.

#3. Have the QBR meeting face-to-face

A QBR meeting should be face-to-face. Whether it’s a physical, in-person event or a video conference, you need to be able to see your customer, share visual data and conduct a visual discussion. A phone call won’t do.

#4. Appoint a moderator 

This may sound basic, but it’s important to ensure the meetings flow well and become successful. Have the VP of customer success, a senior CSM or a product head lead the QBR business meeting. This person will also be involved in preparing the plan so that s/he knows what will be discussed. The moderator will conduct a seamless presentation of the agenda and perform all the ancillary responsibilities that come with it.

#5. Emphasize Value and Business ROI

QBRs are your chance to put value and ROI on display for your customers. What business outcome has your customer achieved through your product? 

So you must make ROI the centerpiece of the meeting. Use numbers and data points to demonstrate the value and impact you’ve delivered within that time period.

Revisit the mutual/joint goals you crafted with your customer at the beginning of the engagement and how you’ve achieved them. 

#6. Present benchmarking data with visuals

Make a comparison with industry data and statistics for a better outcome. Why? 

Businesses love to see how they’re doing (well or not) in comparison to the industry and their competitors. Use hard metrics to correlate their success with your product in that period against competitors and industry. Note what sticks out to your customers and the metrics they’re interested in.

This will make the customer eager to continue doing business with you.

#7. Be transparent

A QBR seeks to build trust and strengthen your relationship with the customer. So, be honest about your product’s successes and failures. Say where you’ve missed the mark and your plan to counter it. This is a demonstration to your customer that you’re willing to work and help them reach their goals.

#8. Keep it short & sweet

A good QBR should be brief. A successful QBR shouldn’t run longer than one hour. Avoid any activity, discussion or explanations that can drag the meeting beyond one hour.

#9. Communicate customer health score

A customer health score classifies them into a green, yellow or red representation. It shows how much value your product is providing to your customer and how much they’re providing back to your company. Communicating the customer’s overall health shows how you are providing value.

#10. Set up your next quarterly business review

Set a date for the next QBR meeting with the customer. While at it, set important goals for the next quarter. This may also be a good time to bring up expansion opportunities, product updates or new products and add-ons for the customer to achieve their goals. Also, outline who will be responsible for the goals and various tasks associated with those goals.

#11. Use QBR meeting templates

Generating a new QBR plan or agenda whenever you want to set up a meeting takes time. You can save time and resources by working from a pre-designed template. 

You can use Wiki or digital adoption tools like Scribe to make the template and store it digitally for collaboration and easy access.

The template may cover items such as a list of possible attendees, KPIs to review, pre-designed report forms and a checklist of potential issues to review. You can always modify the template and fill it in for individual customers and QBRs. 

Conclusion 

QBRs are a great way to forge great relationships with your customers. It can help you build strong connections with the customer that are mutually beneficial.

To conduct an effective QBR, you must understand your customer’s objectives, goals, needs, successes, touchpoints and failures. This knowledge will help you set up the foundation of your review meeting. You must make the QBR structured and strategic. 

Sometimes it’s easier to use a QBR template to follow as you’re creating QBR meetings. Use Scribe to capture and share process faster for more effective templates.