How to Make Your QBR Meeting Agenda Count
A quarterly business review (QBR) allows you to bring together your executives and your clients’ executives to assess the health of their business and your relationship, discuss their future goals and plans, and strategize how you can deliver more value to them. These meetings can play a crucial role in your customers’ overall health and success. However, a QBR meeting agenda can be challenging to plan and execute.
In a recent poll, we asked customer success professionals what their top challenges were for performing QBRs. According to the responses, the number one challenge was engaging customers (37%), followed by creating a success plan (33%) and pulling relevant data (29%). Let’s take a look at why these challenges are essential to the success of a QBR and what you can do to overcome them. Read on to learn what you need to know to make your quarterly business review agenda count. We’ll cover:
- What QBR meetings are
- How to prepare for one
- Who should attend your QBR meeting
- How to run your meeting
- How to structure QBR meetings effectively
- Keys to engaging customers during your QBR
- How to create a customer success plan
- What data to pull during your QBR review
- Best practices for effective QBR meetings
- Tips to prep for QBRs more efficiently
Use these tips to make your QBRs count and improve customer satisfaction and retention.
What Is a QBR Meeting?
A quarterly business review is a periodic meeting between your team and your client’s team to assess how your product is helping them achieve their business goals and adjust your customer success strategy accordingly. This enables you to keep your product’s performance aligned with the results your clients want, promoting repeat business, long-term customer loyalty, and referrals.
A QBR meeting typically covers:
- An assessment of client progress toward goals set in previous QBR meetings
- An analysis of factors influencing performance
- An update of goals, strategies, and KPIs to plan for future improvements
For SaaS B2B clients, QBR meetings tend to focus on assessing value as measured by KPI performance benchmarks. On the client-side, the input may come from multiple parties, including managers who work directly with software users and other decision-makers and stakeholders such as procurement managers, chief financial officers, CEOs, and investors.
As the name implies, traditional quarterly business reviews [LINK] have been held every three months. However, with today’s digital technology, scheduled QBRs may be supplemented by unscheduled reviews based on ongoing monitoring of customer account performance. This allows you to make adjustments between scheduled QBRs to ensure closer alignment of performance with client goals.
How Do I Prepare for a QBR?
To prepare for a productive QBR session, you can take several proactive steps. These include:
- Designate who should lead the QBR meeting and who should take notes
- Use a QBR template to review a checklist of possible items to cover
- Review your last QBR with the client and identify which goals and action steps had been agreed upon
- Generate a report summarizing KPIs benchmarks from the last QBR and progress toward them
- Analyze your KPI data to identify any noteworthy trends
- Create a list of possible recommended action steps to propose to the client
- Prepare any presentation aids you want to incorporate, such as illustrative stories or graphs summarizing data
- Prepare a contact list of who needs to attend the QBR meeting or otherwise contribute
- Send meeting invitations, and distribute a summary of your KPI report, analysis, and recommended steps to those on the meeting contact list
Doing this type of preparation for your QBR meeting will help ensure a productive session with forward-looking action steps rather than unfocused discussion.
Who Should Attend a QBR?
A QBR can include as few as two people or multiple parties from your company and your client’s company. A QBR should consist of one representative from your customer success team and one from your client’s company. Beyond this, attendees should be determined by who needs to be involved for you and your client to evaluate progress, analyze performance, develop future plans, and, on your client’s end, make buying decisions.
For SaaS B2B clients, possible attendees may include:
- Managers of end-users
- Managers of specific departments using your apps, such as marketing or sales managers
- Tech support personnel
- Chief financial officers
- Procurement managers
- Other stakeholders such as investors
In general, the larger the client’s company, the more potential attendees may be involved. However, don’t invite people just for the sake of asking them. Meetings will go smoother when limited to those who genuinely need to attend. Some individuals may need to be kept in the loop to provide input without necessarily needing to attend. To make attendance manageable for busy executives, consider sending out notes in advance and placing priority items in an executive summary at the front of the presentation.
When considering attendees, bear in mind who will be making decisions for your client on whether to renew their product subscription. These decision-makers should be involved in the meeting, either as attendees or as being kept in the loop for input.
How Do You Run a QBR Meeting?
Following a few guidelines will help you run your QBR meetings more effectively:
- Make sure to invite the right attendees
- Send out an agenda and notes sufficiently in advance for participants to prepare
- Start by reviewing performance, with a focus on KPIs
- Use your performance review to broach a discussion of wins, challenges, and opportunities
- Develop an action plan with new goals, strategies, and performance target numbers
- Agree upon who will be responsible for implementing components of the action plan
- Conclude by scheduling the next QBR meeting
What you do after your QBR can be equally important for the success of your meeting. Be sure to follow up with your action plan. Use ongoing KPI monitoring to flag any developments which require attention before your next scheduled QBR.
How Should a QBR Be Structured?
A QBR meeting structure should be organized around three main themes:
- Performance review
- Performance analysis
- Strategic planning
These can be broken down further as follows:
- Start with KPIs and metrics to show the performance of previous QBR periods
- Lead into the wins from the previous periods, emphasizing what was accomplished, both in terms of work put in and the results of that work
- Discuss the challenges and difficulties experienced in the previous period and facing the business currently, referencing the competitive landscape if there have been any noteworthy developments in this area
- Discuss the client’s opportunities moving forward
- Create an action plan for the next quarter and beyond to tackle the challenges and opportunities discussed, including goals, strategies, KPIs, and target benchmarks
Within this general QBR agenda sample, you can introduce specific points as needed.
Engaging Customers in a QBR
Quarterly business reviews allow you to strengthen your relationships with your clients and demonstrate the value you provide and will provide to them in the future. However, if they are not engaged in the process or even interested in having this review with you, that could mean that they are not engaged with your product or service, which could eventually lead to churn.
It’s important to segment customers to deliver more personalized experiences and offers to keep them engaged daily. A QBR, however, is a chance for you to sit down with your customers and have an elevated discussion about their current and future needs and the value that you can provide them.
To get your clients engaged in the QBR process, try these tips:
1. Create a Detailed Agenda
Create a well-developed agenda and distribute it to all parties involved well in advance. This will give your customers a chance to understand what will be discussed and prepare a list of questions, concerns, or other topics for discussion before the meeting to get the most value from it possible.
2. Use Data to Tell a Story
Remind the customer why they purchased your product or service and use data to show them how you have fulfilled those needs over the past quarter.
3. Be Transparent
A QBR is designed to build trust and strengthen relationships, so be honest about your successes and failures. Tell them where you’ve missed the mark and what you’re going to do to make it up and do better in the future. This will show your customer that you’re on their team and you’re willing to put in the work to help them reach their goals.
Creating a Customer Success Plan
During the QBR, you will identify the achievements you’ve made over the past quarter, the challenges your customer is facing, their goals for the future, and the opportunities that lie ahead. Then, you’ll create a roadmap for the next 90 days. At the end of your QBR, your customer should walk away with a success plan that includes:
- A very clear list of the goals and KPIs for the next quarter.
- Defined strategies for how you will overcome any roadblocks or solve any issues that would prevent these goals from being achieved.
- Any new opportunities or other products or services you discussed and how those will provide additional value to their business.
Pulling the Right Data
Bottom line: If you don’t have data to show your customers, don’t even bother having a QBR. Your words mean nothing if you don’t have the numbers to back them up, so you need to be able to gather, analyze and display data effectively. But not just any data; you need to show the right data. Here are three tips for pulling relevant data for your QBR:
1. Demonstrate ROI
Showcase the numbers and data that demonstrate what value you have provided to your customers over the past quarter.
2. Use Benchmarking Data
Clients love to know how well they are doing compared to similar companies or competitors and themselves quarter-over-quarter, so pull any correlating metrics and numbers to demonstrate that for them. It’s helpful to build a dashboard to ensure you are looking at the same data each quarter. This will help you compare apples to apples and help you identify trends, check in on real-time performance to troubleshoot any issues, and save time pulling the data each quarter. Plus, you can share the dashboard with the customer to create transparency and build trust. This also provides an opportunity to shed light on areas that customers are underutilizing and could be getting more value from. If you provide a certain feature or service that has high value but low adoption, bring it up for discussion as they may not be aware of how best to utilize it.
3. Communicate Their Customer Health Score
A customer health score takes multiple dimensions of customer data metrics and classifies them into a single green, yellow, or red representation. This shows how much value you are providing to your customer and how much value they are providing back to your company. An open and honest discussion about your customer’s overall health is a great way to show how you are providing value and discuss expansion opportunities for other products or services you can provide to increase that value.
QBR Best Practices
A quarterly business review can be an excellent tool for building rapport, strengthening relationships, and ensuring renewals. Here are a few very simple best practices to follow to help make sure your next QBR is successful and engaging.
1. Invite the Right People
Ensure you have executive representation from both your company and your client’s.
2. Have the Meeting Face-to-face
Whether it’s a video call or an in-person event, you need to be able to see your client and share visual data representations. A phone call will not do.
3. Keep It Short and Sweet
A QBR does not need to run longer than one hour.
4. Be Honest and Open to Feedback
Both negative and positive. Remember, this is a two-way conversation, so don’t get defensive and take any criticisms as an opportunity to improve.
5. Encourage Collaboration
People don’t want just to be presented to; they want an engaging conversation. It’s important to make time for questions and remind your clients that this is a two-way discussion.
6. Schedule the Next Call
It’s important to schedule your next call to review the progress outlined in your customer success plan.
Tips for Preparing for QBRs
The preparation you put into your quarterly business reviews helps determine their outcomes. You can improve your outcomes by following a few guidelines when preparing. Here are some tips to help you prepare more compelling QBR presentations.
1. Use Pre-optimized Templates for QBRs
Generating a new QBR agenda from scratch every time you meet takes time. You can save time by working from a pre-designed template. Your template can cover items such as a list of possible KPIs to review with your client, predesigned report forms displaying selected KPIs, a checklist of potential issues to review, and a list of suggested solutions. You can modify your template and fill it in for individual clients and QBR sessions. Storing your template digitally will make this easier and allow you to automate some aspects of the updating process.
2. Begin Gathering Data for KPIs and Metrics Early from All Team Members
One of the most time-consuming parts of preparing a QBR review can be assembling the KPIs and metrics you need to review and analyze. In some cases, the data you need may reside among multiple apps and in the accounts of various team members. Waiting until the last minute to get the data you need will cause stress and reduce your ability to prepare an effective presentation. Start assembling your data early to save time and avoid the hassle. A customer success platform that syncs your data automatically is the most efficient solution. The Totango CS platform makes it easy for you to sync data from multiple apps and view dashboards and reports from a central location.
3. Review and Compile Data to Highlight Business Wins and Challenges
How you present the data you gather will help shape the outcome of your QBR. A good rule of thumb is to organize your data to emphasize wins before addressing challenges. This ensures that your QBR communicates the value your product is delivering. It places challenges in a more positive context, promoting a more constructive discussion. Otherwise, if you lead with challenges, you risk overshadowing the value your product is providing.
4. Have Your Customer Success Team Preview the Presentation
Your customer success team can deliver a more effective presentation if everyone is prepared. If team members go into the meeting without having reviewed key information such as KPI data, your delivery may come across as lacking insight, expertise, or authority. Schedule some time for your team to review KPI data and discuss their analysis and suggestions. This will help ensure that everyone has a good grasp of the data and provide opportunities to spot trends and brainstorm ideas that otherwise would have been overlooked.
5. Memorize Presentation Highlights
A well-delivered QBR presentation pivots around communicating certain highlights, such as important KPI numbers, key points of analysis, or actionable recommendations. If your team members are struggling to recall these highlights during their presentation, it can distract and dilute from their delivery. Taking the time to rehearse your presentation, especially its highlights, will result in a smoother, more persuasive QBR delivery.
Plan Your QBR Meeting Agenda to Promote Customer Satisfaction
QBR meetings allow you to showcase the value you’re delivering to customers and bring performance into better alignment with customer needs and expectations. Careful preparation of your meeting agenda and delivery can result in more productive QBRs, which promote greater client satisfaction. Following the tips in this article and using tools such as QBR templates and customer success platforms can help you implement best practices that make the most of your quarterly business reviews.
Totango’s customer success platform includes built-in KPIs for each stage of your customer lifecycle, which you can use to trigger automated workflows that integrate your QBR strategy into the ongoing monitoring of KPI metrics. This allows you to better plan for QBR meetings and follows up on QBRs with real-time responses to customer data. Start for free and make the most out of your QBR meetings for maximum customer satisfaction.