We asked your customers about their experience on the other side of the QBR and this is what they told us…
“I ask my vendors for a few charts and they show up with 55 PPT slides.”
“The vendors just talk; they don’t ask questions or listen to what I need.”
“They haven’t done their homework. Their executives show up and ask the same questions every time.”
In our research, we found that most people dread QBRs with their account managers. Funny enough, a lot of account managers dread giving QBRs to their customers too. It’s no wonder senior executives beg off and suddenly have “emergencies” or “crises” that need to be solved at the same time as your scheduled meetings.
Do you think any of your customers would say these things about your QBRs? Most account managers can probably understand where these customers are coming from. So how do we make a mundane, often rote, and, most importantly, unhelpful exercise valuable for you and your customer?
Tip 1 – Lose the PPT slides: Only Include a Short Presentation
If you show up to your QBRs with a big rehearsed 50 slide PowerPoint deck–consider this your intervention. Drop the slides about your office, your fancy roadmap, and your org chart. Those are all about you and don’t do much for your customer.
Instead, try cutting down on your slides and including only the most essential and relevant information in your presentation. A QBR is not a reporting session. Your customers can review the larger deck for more information if they need to. Try focusing on the conversations you want to have with all the decision-makers from both sides of the aisle in the room.
This is your chance to get to know your customer better, strengthen the relationship, share feedback, and exchange ideas. So, prepare for QBRs by creating a list of questions to ask your client to fill gaps in the information you already know. This expands your understanding of your key accounts while encouraging the type of meaningful conversations that should be included in QBRs.
Tip 2 – Leave the one-man show to Broadway
A one-man show is when the account manager comes in with their executives, all the best intentions, and a large PowerPoint deck, then talk to their customer for 45-min or an hour. No one likes to be talked at, and your customers are likely short on time and being pulled in a lot of directions.
Instead, try creating a closer partnership with your customer for a more modern QBR. Have you heard the expression you get what you put in? The same thing applies to your customer. Remember, your customer is on the hook for the results they deliver with your product or service. That means they are already invested in making it a success.
Start including your customer as a co-presenter for the QBR. Ask them to contribute to the agenda, data, and insights. They can present results, roadblocks, and help facilitate the discussion with senior executives. The more they put in, the more likely it will be relevant and successful. This approach inspires a balanced conversation and deeper engagement leading to a more productive meeting.
Tip 3 – Where do we go from here? Keep your QBR focused on the future
One of the biggest mistakes account managers make during the QBR is viewing it as a time to play defense. Thinking they are just the lowly account manager who has to defend the existence of their solution, hoping to remain relevant so the customer will continue working with them. They think the QBR is just something they have to “get through.”
Instead, try coming into the meeting prepared to share your expertise about the future. It’s okay to briefly review progress toward goals, the value provided, and accomplishments during the last quarter, but that should only serve as a starting point for the entire QBR. Discuss big ideas, brainstorm, and generate conversations about what the future could look like for this partnership. To make this happen, create a list of forward-looking, open-ended strategic questions relating to partnering on mutual goals and how to accomplish them. And be sure to agree on who will be responsible for activities needed to reach these goals to ensure nothing falls by the wayside.
Take the right steps
QBRs are essential meetings for successful key account management. Sadly, they often fall short of participants’ expectations. Implement these 3 tips to improve your QBRs. Focusing on conversations instead of reading PowerPoint slides will make the meeting more interesting for those on both sides of the table. Partnering with your customer to conduct the QBR will lead to a more engaging and meaningful experience for participants. And, focusing on the future instead of the past will encourage strategic discussions instead of tactical ones. Your clients will see you in a whole new light and you’ll start seeing more of your key accounts’ executives at the table.
Want more QBR best practices? Check out the Kick Ass QBR Ebook.