Companies like Google and Intel use a form of goal planning and a business leadership process to identify OKRs, the objectives and key results that drive internal performance, build customer relationships, and deliver growth. The quarterly business review (QBR) meeting is the delivery platform to discuss and set OKRs and measure and grade performance as determined by a company’s overall mission and values. This article features an overview of QBR meetings, including expert business review planning and presentation techniques. You’ll find a variety of free QBR templates to use, so you can spend less time preparing for your presentations and more time managing your business.
What Is a QBR Meeting?
The purpose of a QBR meeting is to communicate business-related goals, determine OKRs to measure success, and build relationships with customers or employees. The meeting is most effective when conducted face to face, but technology, the growth of global business, and the increase in geographically distributed teams make remote QBR meetings a popular option.
Internal QBR meetings happen at every level, from executive leadership to product teams. As an external communication tool, the QBR meeting is an opportunity for customer success managers (or related sales and marketing professionals using strategic account management) to discuss KPIs and return on investment (ROI), sign sales contracts, or negotiate service renewal agreements with customers.
What to Include in a Sales QBR
Determining business goals and using key customers to identify the desired results of your efforts are just the beginning of effective QBR planning. Resist the urge to think in a vacuum when creating your slide deck. Consider the customer. Don’t treat the QBR meeting like any other sales call by focusing on complaints, reviewing past performance, etc. Instead, create a customer-oriented agenda and share it with them prior to the meeting.
The agenda of your sales quarterly business review might include the following topics:
Status of outstanding business from previous meeting
Review of program objectives
Performance results and improvement
News and updates on products and services
Future business opportunities
Items from last meeting
Sales and marketing program metrics
Scorecard review (Customer Health Index or Net Promoter Score)
Support ticket review and resolution metrics review
Customer support desk review
Onboarding and training
Product roadmap and feature development
License renewals and service contracts
Summary of meeting and commitments
Scheduling of next QBR
Guide to Effective Customer QBR Meetings
Nancy Duarte is Principal at Duarte, Inc., a company that helps “write, design, and deliver groundbreaking stories and visual presentations for every occasion.” The following tips were inspired by Duarte’s experience and recommendations from her book Harvard Business Review Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Use them to plan and deliver a compelling presentation to your customer at the next QBR meeting.
Audience over Ambitions: Duarte points out that your audience has the power, not you. Look past your ambitions for the meeting and prepare a presentation that takes into account who is in attendance, their valuable and limited time, and what each individual customer needs from the QBR meeting. Duarte recommends giving your customer a gift in the form of unique insight or information, providing them with a new skill or mindset to achieve their business goals, and seeking opportunities to get “unstuck” with a solution if there is a problem with their products, services, or operations.
Filter Big Ideas: As the name suggests, the QBR is about reviewing past performance, but most customer QBR meetings are scheduled for one hour. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the opportunity to present ideas for how to build future business with your customers and add value to the discussion. Duarte is a proponent of filtering big ideas. “If you don’t filter your presentation, the audience will have to, and people will resent you for making them work too hard to identify the most important points,” she writes. This advice is especially relevant for QBR meetings that can quickly devolve into problem solving and complaint resolution sessions before you have time to present your ideas.
Anticipate Adversity: According to Duarte, as a presenter, you’re frequently creating resistance to your message and ideas. QBR meetings are not an opportunity to troubleshoot customer service issues or the performance of your product and services. Duarte suggests preparing for different types of resistance (logical, emotional, practical) by anticipating and addressing your customer’s concerns before they become roadblocks to your meeting. Consider opening the meeting agenda with a statement acknowledging the issues and when they will be addressed during the presentation. “By showing that you’ve considered opposing points of view, you demonstrate an open mind — and invite your audience to respond in kind,” she writes.
Golden Rule: The motto at Duarte, Inc. is, “Never deliver a presentation you wouldn’t want to sit through.” Rehearse your presentation before the QBR meeting. Have a colleague or manager analyze your slides and delivery and provide some feedback. Duarte recommends preparing a shorter version of your presentation in case something goes wrong and time is cut short by an interruption or technical glitches. Your customer can tell if you try to wing it, and they will feel slighted. “It sends the message that you don’t value them or their time,” she writes. “Perhaps most significantly, rehearsing frees you up to be more present in your talk and to fully engage with the people in front of you,” she continues. This creates more opportunities to build future business, ask for recommendations, and schedule your future meetings with the customer.
Customer QBR Meeting Preparation Checklist
Use this checklist to help you prepare a QBR meeting presentation that captures your customer’s attention and demonstrates your commitment to honor their valuable time.
Supplier QBR Template
QBR meetings provide a place and time for suppliers and customers to build a strategic relationship that benefits both parties. Use this supplier QBR template to measure the quantitative value that your managed service providers and vendor partners offer your business. If you’re the supplier, use this template at your next QBR to take a proactive role as a valuable business partner by establishing your customer’s return on investment.
Annual Business Review Template
Use this annual business review template to compile the key results of your quarterly business review meetings and prepare your presentation. This template is designed as a formal presentation to discuss key business objectives and results. Customize the slides outlined to deliver a concise, impactful review of past performance and articulate future goals for the year ahead.
Small Business QBR Template
Running a small business requires the optimization of time and money — hold your suppliers to the same standard with this template. Use this form to organize information about the products and services your key vendors provide. Also use it to facilitate critical quarterly checkpoint meetings in order to grade the relationship based on results.
Download Small Business QBR Template
Executive QBR Template
Use this customizable QBR slide deck to present to executive leadership. It is designed to present the most vital information up front and to summarize objectives and key results to busy executives with tight schedules. This template is perfect for remote online meetings that use video conferencing software. It’s also ideal for a less-than-captive audience.
Sales QBR Template
Sales professionals need an effective QBR business planning process to execute quarterly sales goals and measure the results of their sales team’s efforts. Share this customizable QBR slide deck outline with your team to elevate performance and establish accountability. They can easily modify each slide to present essential information about their market or customers and plan next steps to be reviewed at the next QBR meeting. Adjust the slides and craft a QBR presentation for your customers.
Quarterly Business Review FAQ
Preparing for and delivering an effective quarterly business review doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s a look at some of the key questions about QBR meetings.
Does Every Customer Get a QBR?
QBR meetings foster relationships between you and your customers, reinforce the value of your products and services, and invite honest discussion about the ROI and the likelihood of renewing business agreements. Every customer that you want to provide this opportunity to is a candidate for regularly scheduled quarterly business reviews.
What Is the Best Strategy for Successful QBR Meetings?
Suppliers and vendors that operate under managed service provider (MSP) contracts leverage the QBR meeting as a strategy to manage expectations and learn how to improve, discuss the customer’s business goals and desired results, and understand the problems that customers try to solve in order to support future business plans. If you prepare and practice accordingly, your QBR meetings create a competitive advantage for you to transform customer relationships into win-win partnerships.
Where Do I Host a Customer QBR?
The likelihood of keeping a consistent, face-to-face QBR meeting on your customer’s calendar every 90 days is slim. Meetings get canceled, key customer contacts change, executives need flexibility to meet via video conference, etc. Plan your QBR presentation with the location in mind, and be flexible with where you host your meetings. Invite your best customers to meet on site at your office, and host the meeting over breakfast and coffee. Prepare a slide deck and online meeting agenda, so you can offer these elements as a hosting option for busy customers.
When Do I Schedule My First Customer QBR?
The answer depends on the product and service you provide. Schedule the first QBR after the customer is onboarded and has time to implement and assess your business and value. Coordinate the details for this meeting when you close the deal, and sign contractual agreements when you have the customer’s attention. This demonstrates that you are committed to delivering value and a return on the customer’s investment and will sit down with them every 90 days or so to review the results of this commitment.
Who Do I Invite to Participate in a Customer QBR?
Schedule your customer QBR meetings to include decision makers from both sides, including management and executive leadership when possible. Make sure you know who is attending each QBR meeting ahead of time, and plan your presentation based on the audience.
Does My QBR Presentation Need to Include Images and Charts?
According to Nancy Duarte, the most effective presenters think like designers. “Each slide should pass what I call the glance test: People should be able to comprehend it in three seconds,” says Duarte. “Think of your slides as billboards. When people drive, they only briefly take their eyes off their main focus — the road — to process billboard information,” she adds. Images and charts improve your audience’s cognitive response to your message. Use them in your QBR presentation to maximize your time and deliver crucial information your audience will remember. You can find free, ready-to-use drag-and-drop software, like the Onomics charting tool available from Priceonomics, to help you design a slide deck like a pro.
Improve Your QBR and Business Review Meetings with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet
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