When it comes to Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) most teams are not taking full advantage of the opportunity these meetings present. The opportunity to work with, have a conversation with and build a joint vision of the future with their key customers. Most people are not putting their best foot forward to engage the customer or get what they really want out of these quarterly reviews. As a result, they’re leaving themselves open to risk.
Kapta did some research by speaking with senior executives in various industries. We asked them what they think about the QBR meetings their vendors are doing with them, how it’s going, and what they’d change about these reviews. We found that only 28% of your customers think QBRs are a valuable use of their time. The other 72% told us it’s a waste of time, these meetings are too long, too much information is presented, and the meetings are too tactical. Based on our conversations with these customer executives, they said that vendors talk a lot but don’t listen, don’t do their homework, and don’t ask the right questions. They also questioned the structure, frequency, and format of these meetings.
So, to really excel as account managers and be the trusted advisors or strategic partners you want to be with your customers, you’ve got to bridge this gap. You need to understand why there is a disconnect causing you not to be aligned with your customers. To do so you must change your mind by not using the wrong mental models within your QBRs. You have a set of false assumptions or dysfunctional beliefs about QBRs. They’re outdated and need to be updated so they’re aligned with current customer expectations of how you engage with them, work with them, and build partnerships with them. Let’s look at four dysfunctional beliefs around QBRs, how we can reframe them, and what actions we can take to change them.
Dysfunctional Belief #1: A QBR is a presentation
If you believe this you think you’ve got to show up with X number of PowerPoint slides, walk through all the slides one by one with the customer, and present all the information. You may also think you need to include things in your presentation like a photo of your office building, a product roadmap, or org charts. This only serves to crowd out the message you’re trying to deliver while causing you to simply show up and throw up during the QBR.
Reframe this belief so you think of a QBR as a fantastic opportunity to connect with your customers for a conversation about what matters most to them. So, you’re not showing up, just presenting, going through slides, and overwhelming your customers with data. You need to think of quarterly reviews as a huge opportunity where teams from both sides get together. A chance to talk, share ideas about what could be happening in the future, how things are going, and all the things that matter to the customer in a detailed conversation.
Actions to take to move away from this dysfunctional belief include rethinking how you spend your time with the customer. Whether you have 30, 60, or 90 minutes for the meeting, you want to make sure you’re making the best of that time. Start by having an agenda. Then share your agenda and slide decks with your customer 48 hours ahead of the meeting. This helps the customer prepare for a meaningful conversation. Then you and your team need to write down your questions as well. You can use the time to do a Voice of Customer (VOC) interview and learn more about your customer’s goals, needs, and initiatives so you can align behind them effectively. This is using the time in a more effective and strategic way.
Dysfunctional Belief #2: I have to do all the work myself
You may believe that as the account manager or CSM you need to do all the work yourself since it’s your account. You feel that you need to work with the customer, build the presentation, put on a show during the review, do all the talking, and run the meeting all by yourself.
Reframe this belief by thinking about the QBR as an opportunity to co-create or partner with your customer to create a meaningful conversation.
Actions to take to move away from this dysfunctional belief include getting your client more involved in preparing for the meeting. Ask for their input on the agenda. Have them contribute data and insights. Ask them to co-run the meeting with you to encourage a balanced conversation with both sides speaking equal amounts of time. The result is deeper engagement during a meeting that’s more productive and meaningful for all involved.
Dysfunctional Belief #3: QBRs are about playing defense
Believing this means you think you need to justify your existence to your customer because you’re a lowly vendor compared to your huge key account customer. And you feel you have to show up and do the QBRs to remind your customers of who you are, so you remain relevant to them, and so they don’t drop you. This means you don’t have a proactive offensive plan and wind up feeling reactive, leading to less effective results.
Reframe this belief by remembering that you’re a strategic partner for your clients, you’ve earned a seat at the table. They’re working with you and your company for your insights, expertise, and the value you provide. You help them meet their goals and focus on bigger picture items. So, don’t be defensive when it comes to QBRs. Be proactive about how you work with customers. Don’t play not to lose—play to win.
Actions to take to move away from this dysfunctional belief include going into the QBR ready to share points of view, big ideas, insights, benchmarks, and comparisons—all the things your customers hired you for. And remember the sales adage that ‘you get sent to who you sound like.’ So, in these meetings with executives on the customer’s side, talk like an executive. Be strategic by talking about big ideas. Lead the brainstorm, really showing up as a strategic partner or trusted advisor to your customer. When you do this, you’ll no longer feel the need to play defense.
Dysfunctional Belief #4: QBRs are backward-looking
You may believe that QBRs are called reviews because they are designed to look back at what has happened during the last 90 days, but they are so much more than that.
Reframe this belief by remembering that QBRs are an opportunity for a conversation co-created with your customer from a strategic place. So, these meetings can be future-focused as well and what transpired during the past quarter can be the starting point for that conversation about what’s next or where we go from here.
Actions to take to move away from this dysfunctional belief include preparing forward-looking, open-ended strategic questions to prompt great discussion while preparing for these meetings. These questions should be about working and partnering on mutual goals, ideas, and milestones. And getting a commitment from both sides as to who’s doing which activities to work toward these shared targets.
Reframing these dysfunctional beliefs will lead to better QBRs and the following results:
- Your clients will see you in a whole new light–not another vendor, but as a strategic partner.
- The meetings themselves will be more impactful. You’ll get more out of them, your customer’s executive team will show up, and everyone will be engaged during these reviews.
- You’ll get to know your customers better. You’ll understand them, what’s working, and what’s not working. Plus, you’ll see risks and opportunities sooner so you can create a plan to address them earlier.
- You’ll differentiate yourself by being the ones taking this approach, so you’ll stand out from the competition by having meaningful, engaging, and productive QBRs.
Kapta has all the tools to help facilitate the QBR preparation process. Interested in making QBR preparation easier? Learn more in our KAMGenius online training course.