Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are at the heart of a healthy customer relationship. In the words of an Ecosystems’ client, Quarterly Business Reviews are “four golden opportunities” each year to retain and grow customer accounts by consenting on the value delivered by current solutions and services.
For the past 19 years, Ecosystems has helped organizations establish Quarterly Business Review programs, the most effective of which have the following attributes:
1. Quarterly Business Reviews as a Requirement
The first step towards an effective QBR program is internalizing QBRs as a requirement versus a best-practice. Every large customer needs a business review at least every 90 days. I have found that best-in-class organizations specify in contracts that customer executives must meet in person at least once per quarter to discuss program priorities and performance. You cannot swoop in weeks before the end of a contract to manufacture a consensus on the business impact of deployed solutions. A healthy and growing customer account is made from a series of deposits of high-quality conversations (QBRs) throughout the year.
2. Conversation versus Presentation
For QBRs to serve as a differentiator, they must invoke a different type of conversation. And this begins with getting away from linear slide-by-slide PowerPoints or mind-numbing Excel spreadsheets. Whether in Ecosystems’ platform or an alternative, QBRs should be delivered through interactive software that can flow with customer conversation.
Years ago I helped a client deliver a QBR to the CIO of a $50 billion business services company. At the end of the QBR, we asked for feedback and waited in suspense. The first thing the CIO said was “Thank you for being different.” Since that meeting, I have never forgotten the importance of delivering QBRs as an interactive conversation versus a rehearsed presentation.
3. Own the Larger Conversation
If done well—and assuming you are not your customer’s only solution provider—QBRs can actually become a point of frustration with customers. Customers want to have a higher-quality conversation for all of their areas of responsibility. And while the natural instinct of vendors is to focus solely on the products and services they directly sell, there is an upside to incorporating offerings from other vendors in the QBR. For example, if you provide a solution that is a small component of a systemic project, such as a data center transformation, expand the content and conversation of your QBR to address the project in its entirety. Worst case—you build further intimacy and understanding of your customer’s larger operations. Best case—you grow your wallet share by finding gaps in solutions or competitors that are in vulnerable/displaceable positions.
4. Strategic or Bust
QBRs cannot become a euphemism for tactical/operational meetings happening on a quarterly cadence. Push non-strategic conversations to weekly/monthly operational meetings. If this is not possible, and to ensure a portion of the QBR is relevant to the executive stakeholders they are meant to attract, reserve the first 30 minutes of a QBR for strategic conversation. Senior level stakeholders can then bow-out for the balance of the session.
Michael is CTO and co-founder of Ecosystems. For over 20 years, Michael has helped Fortune 500 companies differentiate their products and services by quantifying and communicating business value. Michael has helped companies navigate the technical and business process challenges to improving performance for all sales streams, from large (named) accounts to enterprise to SMB, direct versus channel, and public versus private sector. Michael holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering and a minor in environmental engineering from Pennsylvania State University.