Once a new customer has completed the onboarding process, the Customer Success Manager (CSM) will take them into the next phase of the customer journey, focusing on ongoing account management.
It is during this phase that the CSM should adopt the role of strategic advisor. The CSM’s main goal now is to deliver the customer's desired outcomes and help them realize the value they’re getting from your product or service.
One of the best ways to showcase progress achieved over a period of time and align on future goals is conducting a quarterly business review.
What Is a Quarterly Business Review?
A quarterly business review is a meeting or call held between the CSM and the key stakeholders at an account, to review the goals and milestones that have been accomplished in the past quarter based on the success plan built between the CSM and the customer.
The QBR is one of the few meetings where the CSM will have all (or most) of the customer’s key stakeholders present. Thus, it’s a unique opportunity for the CSM to establish their position as the customer’s strategic advisor and highlight the impact the CSM had over any positive outcomes.
What Are the Goals of a QBR?
We touched upon the main purpose of a QBR on a high level, now let's go into the details. Here are the specific goals that CSMs should be looking to accomplish by the end of a quarterly business review:
- Deliver a clear picture of what has been achieved in the past quarter -> These achievements must be tied to what was defined in the success plan.
- Tell a compelling success story -> Showcase how your work with your champion(s) led to this success; this will empower your champion(s) in front of their managers and strengthen your position as a strategic advisor.
- Listen to your customers -> Make sure to listen to what your champion(s) and other key stakeholders are saying, and the feedback they're providing. This should enable CSMs to fine-tune important details and identify any other important objectives that haven’t been raised previously.
- Plan ahead -> Having the key stakeholders at the meeting is a opportunity for any CSM to optimize and update their existing success plan in order to continue proving value to the customer in the future.
- Schedule the next QBR -> It’s very difficult to get all of the key stakeholders on a call together, so if you have them there, set a calendar hold for the next QBR.
What Are the Benefits of Conducting a QBR?
In order to experience the benefits of a QBR, these meetings must be conducted correctly so that they provide significant value to the people attending. Assuming that's the case, the main benefits of a QBR are:
Showcasing Added Value
If all of the key stakeholders will be present during the meeting, this is the perfect time and place to highlight what milestones have been achieved with your solution, in part due to the CSM’s guidance and advice.
A Deeper Understanding of the Customer’s Business
During the QBR, the CSM will get the opportunity to receive real-time feedback on the impact of the outcomes of that have been achieved during that quarter. The more details you are able to get from key stakeholders, the more you will be able to identify the customer's priorities, and what will have the highest impact on their overall business.
The Opportunity to Develop a Tailored Success Plan
The QBR is a great time to identify and map out the main objectives the customer has in mind for the short/medium term future, and get the buy-in of all key stakeholders. Make sure to get detailed answers on what success looks like so it can be measured and showcased during the next QBR.
Constantly adding value will only strengthen the relationships and trust you've developed with your customers. This will open up peripheral opportunities such as the customer consulting with you about other areas of their business that are not necessarily (directly) related to your product — that is the definition of being their strategic advisor/consultant.
By having a deeper level of understanding around a customer's business objectives/priorities and further cementing a strong relationship and level of trust with your customers, you will have a unique opportunity to expand the account through upsells that benefit the customer. The QBR is also great opportunity to mention an upcoming renewal; for customers that have been with your product for over a year, you might want to offer the option of signing a multi-year deal for a reduced price.
Standard QBR Agenda: 6 Items to Cover
While the details of the QBR meeting obviously depend on the customer and the product, your meeting agenda should aim to cover the following:
Executive Overview: The executive overview gives a quick picture and clear report of what has been achieved since the last QBR. This allows the CSM to captivate the key stakeholder’s attention from the get-go and get them intrigued about how the objectives were achieved.
Account Review: Now that everyone has a clear picture of what was achieved, this is where you present in detail what you and your champion implemented in order to reach each objective and milestone. The key here is to validate the value you and your product are adding to the customer, while also empowering your champion by showcasing how they were a key part of this success.
Engagement Heat Map: The idea here is to map out the interactions and progress you had as a CSM with your customer. If the above points defined the “what,” this is the “how” and “when,” reflecting your ability as a CSM to create a roadmap and execute against it.
Success Plan: This is probably the most important part of the QBR as you will essentially be going over the goals/milestones that were set the previous quarter and reviewing what has been achieved. This is why defining your success plan with your customer’s key stakeholders is crucial, so that everyone is aligned on the plan’s key objectives, goals, milestones, etc.
Product Roadmap: If there are new features/products being developed that are relevant to the customer’s use case, this is the perfect opportunity to discuss them and understand if these new additions would be valuable to the customer.
Future Planning: This is the time when you can begin planning for the next QBR and have open discussions with all the key stakeholders about upcoming opportunities, challenges, and objectives. If there’s a renewal coming up, this is also the perfect time to discuss it and get their point of view. Don’t forget to update the success plan accordingly.
How to Prepare for a QBR as a CSM
As a CSM, these are the four key questions you should be able to answer while prepping for your quarterly business review. Knowing this will guarantee that the QBR’s content is complete and comprehensive.
"Who will be my audience?"
This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when prepping for a QBR, as it enables you to customize the presentation. Mapping out and identifying who will be attending the QBR from the customer’s side will enable the CSM to get additional information in advance. This can include the topics that are most important to them, what are they interested in discussing during the QBR, and the questions that attendees have raised in the past.
"How will I showcase value?"
One of the most important objectives in a QBR is to showcase value by clearly presenting all the milestones/goals achieved during a determined period. Make sure to keep these in mind so you can tell the story in a compelling way.
"How will I structure the meeting?"
Using the success plan as your compass when building the QBR should enable you to define a clear structure for the meeting as it contains all of the goals/objectives that were set since the beginning of the relationship. By using the success plan as your framework, you will have clear benchmarks you can refer to in order to measure and showcase the value the customer received throughout the past quarter.
"What are my objectives as a CSM?"
This enables you to build a list of the important outcomes you want to achieve during the QBR. Once you have these objectives mapped out, you can begin to define how the QBR will look and prepare for how you will reach these objectives.
Key QBR Metrics to Cover With Your Customers
If showcasing and delivering value is one of the most important items in a QBR, that means that you will need to have a clearly defined list of metrics that are relevant to the customer and a clear definition of how they quantify success.
These metrics will typically vary according to the product and the customer, but here are some key metrics that can be used across the board:
Product/Feature Adoption Rate
This metric is meant to quantify how much of the product is being used, and if the customer is maximizing the potential usage of the product/feature — the higher the rate, the more mission-critical the product is to their business.
What % of the team is actually using the product? This is a great opportunity to increase the stickiness of your product across the customer’s team. Showcasing the benefits that other users have gained by fully leveraging your product is a great way to prevent churn.
If you and/or your product had any impact on your customer's revenue, that should also be presented in order to quantify the impact of your product and its ROI.
% Changes Related to Their Key Metrics
Include the % change for the main KPIs and objectives that were defined in the success plan. By doing so, you're acknowledging what is important to the customer and showcasing the value of your product.
Make Your Next Quarterly Business Review Count
The TL;DR? The main goal of the QBR is to awe your customers by showcasing how much value you and your product are delivering to their business. By doing this, your customers will be left eagerly awaiting your next QBR (and hopefully renewal).
The QBR is a unique opportunity for the CSM to position themself as the strategic advisor for the customer, and to build and strengthen relationships with all of the key stakeholders at the account. Pro tip: Prepare in advance and continue delivering value to your customers.
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