Quarterly business reviews.
Quick, what went through your mind when you read that? If you’re like many account managers, you likely groaned while images of stale donuts, awkward Powerpoint presentations, and of computer screens chock-full of files to sort danced through your head.
How do you conquer QBRs without boring your clients—and your own team—to death? How do you ensure that this time is spent to your advantage, and to the advantage of your Key Account contacts?
Following are five best practices to help you prepare for your next Key Account QBR so that you can avoid a meeting snoozefest while also making the most of the opportunity to prove to your Key Account that you are a strategic partner, not just another vendor.
Defer to your client’s review cycle.
Don’t be rigid when setting up QBRs. When you reach out to your clients to set up QBRs, emphasize your desire to maintain regular, interpersonal communication, and be sensitive to industry cycles which may affect how your clients map their progress.
If your client is in the middle of a roll-out or other major project when the standard 90-day milepost arrives, wait until the dust settles before bringing your teams together. Especially if the project involves a major contribution on the part of your own firm. Planning QBRs in line with your Key Account’s timelines and goals allows you to better leverage this summit for evaluating your success as your client’s strategic partner.
Likewise, you can plan your Key Account QBR in advance of your client’s big event, as long as your Key Account contacts feel it will benefit the efficiency of their upcoming project.
Keep it personal.
Whenever possible, conduct your QBRs in person. Try to include as many decision makers as possible from both your team and that of your Key Account’s. It should go without saying that your team should visit your client’s site. But if this isn’t possible, look into high-quality video conferencing, and make sure you streamline the process for your strategic partner’s convenience.
Prepare your team…and your Key Accounts.
It should go without saying that, as a Key Account Manager, you are always armed with the most current data on your client’s account and industry forecasts. If you’re not, you’re likely using the wrong software.
Real-time, on-demand reporting keeps you and your team at the ready when new situations arise, preparing you for inevitable speed bumps in Key Account Management. Smooth the road to your QBRs by using organizational tools that allow you to share crucial data with your clients throughout the year. This way, your quarterly business review doesn’t become a data ambush. When your clients are consistently briefed on your efforts and capabilities, they don’t arrive “cold” at your QBRs. This makes it easier for your team to use face-to-face meetings as a platform for improving customer care rather than regurgitating statistics.
Reverse the tide of information.
With the aid of transparent, ongoing data reporting, you’ve turned your Key Accounts into informed, collaborative strategic partners. Whether the key client is well-established or experiencing their first big pow-wow post onboarding, your QBR goal is to reinforce trust and teamwork, not inundate your clients in a self-absorbed sales pitch. Don’t tell your clients what you’ve done for them. Ask how it could have been done better.
Don’t rely on your clients to speak up if they’re dissatisfied with your partnership. Make sure they feel comfortable airing their grievances and be sure that you’re prepared to listen to and process their feedback. Ask how your clients foresee the next 90 days affecting their industry and how your products and services could enhance their position. Are there any gaps? If your clients could imagine the perfect package from your company, what would it be?
Encourage feedback, and foster an atmosphere of brainstorming. Your clients are the rock stars, so give their ideas center-stage.
Plan a post-mortem with your team.
Your ideal Key Account Management team should include members from every department within your firm, whether they are involved in the day-to-day KAM duties or limited to an advisory role. Did your R&D guy pick up on something you missed? Did your executive-level manager find a red flag predicting divergent goals down the road?
Ask specific questions of your team after your QBR so that, when you refine your strategy, you’ll be able to demonstrate to your Key Account contacts that you have a clear view of your client’s goals and needs.
Key Account Management is geared toward giving the best customer service to top-tier clients, but in order to do so, KAM teams need to periodically examine the validity of a strategic partnership. While established accounts require fewer resources to produce sales, some key clients draw too much focus from other partnerships.
Quarterly business reports are an occasion to justify your company’s value to its clients. But it’s always wise to step back after a strategic conference to determine whether that client is still suitable for your KAM program.
Are you ready?
Your next Quarterly Business Review may be upon you before you can perfect your approach to client conferences, but it’s never too early to plan for future QBRs. Streamline your client management and data sharing protocols, adopt a proactive attitude, and work on your communication and listening skills. Make it easy for your Key Accounts to provide feedback and ideas on how you can do better by them.
In a job where information is everything, make it easy for your Key Accounts to provide feedback and ideas on how you can do better by them.
Curious to see how you can take your Key Account Management skills to the next level? Download this helpful ebook on how to create powerful engagement plans for your key accounts or sign up for a demo of Kapta.