The Essentials and Intangibles of an Effective Quarterly Business Review (QBR)

The QBR is a unique opportunity for the CSM to really 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.

Once a customer has completed the onboarding process, the CSM will take the customer into the next phase of the customer journey which is usually referred to as the “ongoing process”. 

It is during this phase that the CSM should completely adopt the role of strategic advisor in order to lead the customer toward constantly reaching the customer’s desired outcome. 

Based on the expectations of the customer, the CSM should define a clear work frame of how and when they will achieve the customer’s desired outcome. Once defined, the CSM’s main goal is to deliver the desired outcome in addition to providing exceptional service and execution so customers realize both the added value they’re getting from the product, and from the CSM. One of the best ways to showcase the progress achieved over a period of time, and build a strategy for upcoming goals, is during a Quarterly Business Review.

What is a QBR?

A Quarterly Business Review is a meeting/call held between the CSM and the key stakeholders at an account.

The QBR is one of the few meetings where the CSM will have all (or most) of the customer’s key stakeholders present. It’s a key opportunity for the CSM to showcase their abilities, and to establish their position as the customer’s strategic advisor.

On a high level, the QBR’s main purpose is to review what goals and milestones have been accomplished in the past quarter based on the success plan built between the CSM and the customer, while also showcasing the invaluable impact the CSM had over the outcomes.

What are the Goals of a QBR?

We touched upon the main purpose on a high level, however, if we go down to the details these would be the main goals of a QBR:

  • 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 your position as a strategic advisor.
  • Listen to your customers -> Make sure to listen to what your champion(s) and the key stakeholders are saying, and the feedback they're providing. This should enable CSMs to fine-tune important details and identify any other key objectives that haven’t been raised previously.
  • Planning ahead -> Having the key stakeholders at the meeting is a key opportunity for any CSM to optimize and update their existing success plan in order to continuously showcase value to the customer.
  • 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 placeholder for the next QBR. Worst case, you can always reschedule.

What Are the Benefits of Conducting a QBR?

In order to experience the benefits of a QBR, they must be conducted correctly, and have added some kind of value to the people attending the meeting. If both of those boxes are checked, the main benefits of a QBR would be:

Showcasing added value

If all of the key stakeholders will be present during the meeting, this is the perfect time and place to showcase what milestones have been achieved with the product 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 directly from the key stakeholders. The more details you are able to get, the more you will be able to identify the customer's priorities, and what will have the highest impact on their overall business.

Develop a tailored success plan

This 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.

Strengthening your relationships

Constantly adding value will only strengthen the relationships and trust you've developed with your customers. This will open up key 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.

Upsell/Renewals

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 within the account i.e. moving forward with upsells that benefit the customer. When it comes to renewals, the QBR is a great opportunity to mention an upcoming renewal, and to set the vision along with the customer toward the work roadmap next year. In some cases, with customers that have been with your product for over a year, you might want to offer the option of signing a multi-year deal (yes, they do exist in B2B SaaS)!

Standard QBR Agenda

While the details of the content 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 past 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, so if the above was the “what” this is the “how” and “when”. This should reflect 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. Why? So 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 it and understand if the new feature/product would be valuable to the customer.

Looking Ahead: 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 key questions you should be able to answer while prepping for your QBR— it’ll 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 even further. 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, have any of the attendees attended previous meetings, and if so, what questions have they 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 create a perfect flow and tell the story.

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 from the beginning of the quarter. 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 should enable you to build a list of the objectives you want to achieve during the QBR. So, 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 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.

User Usage

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. To also showcase the benefits that other users have gained by fully using your product is a great way to prevent churn.

Revenue-Related Metrics

If you and/or your product had any impact on your customer's revenue, that should also be presented in order to validate and quantify the value 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.

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 really 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.

Don't spend hours seeking out the data and information you need to crush your next QBR presentation. Vitally puts all of the customer data and insights you need at your fingertips with out-of-the-box dashboards and reporting, powerful customer health scores, and beyond! Chat with a Customer Success expert today!

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