QBRs are an essential part of the account management process. They are a huge opportunity to give your customer what CSO Insights Buyer Preferences Study revealed they most want—an ongoing relationship as an existing customer along with fresh insights and perspectives.
These regularly scheduled meetings are where we’re there as a partner, showing up and working with them. QBRs are your chance to deepen and strengthen your relationship with your client while reviewing progress and adjusting plans relating to shared goals. And it’s a time to learn more about your key accounts while discussing strategic future-focused plans.
Your customer might have 12 QBRs in a given year, maybe even more with various vendors on a regular basis. How do you stand out and make sure yours are effective? If you do this right, have a great process, and show up as a partner, you are going to be different and better than your competitors. And this will make your day-to-day contact and the executives in your key accounts attend and look forward to your QBRs. To accomplish this, watch out for these 4 red flags. When you see them, you need to address them immediately before it damages your relationship with your key accounts.
Red Flag 1: Your client’s executives pop in and out of your meeting.
This might be because they haven’t had any input in the meeting’s agenda or topics of discussion. It’s easy enough to change this by partnering with your customer to create a meaningful conversation. Get started by creating an agenda, sharing it with your client, and asking them for input. Ask them how to get their executives involved and ask them to do some work, prepare some reports, and co-present with you. Then they’re going to feel invested in the outcome of the meeting, contributing to the agenda, data, and insights.
Red Flag 2: Executives fail to show up to your QBRs altogether.
In our research, we heard from teams who delegate QBRs to their direct reports altogether because they don’t find them valuable. This could be an indicator that you’re approaching these meetings with a defensive posture. Perhaps you’re a bit intimidated and feel like you need to justify your existence by reviewing all the numbers from the last quarter. But this is ineffective and offers no value to your key account’s executives. To correct this situation, you need to go into the QBR ready to share points of view, big ideas, insights, benchmarks, comparisons, and all the other things your customers hired you for—your expertise. So be strategic, brainstorm, and be the trusted advisor your customer wants you to be. This is what the executive value.
Red Flag 3: There isn’t active dialogue or engagement during your meeting.
Nobody likes to be talked at for 45-mins, especially if all of the content isn’t relevant or helpful to the customer. If you do all the talking and you don’t get a lot of questions or commentary, then you need to rethink your QBR. Remember, this meeting isn’t intended to be a lengthy PowerPoint presentation where you read each and every slide. Instead, shorten the deck you use during the meeting and leverage the slide information as a starting point for meaningful discussion with your client. You can always share a more detailed deck with the client so they can dig deeper into the reporting, for example. Come prepared to ask engaging questions to fill in your knowledge gaps about your client, to exchange insights, to address new challenges, to review progress toward previously accomplished goals, and to set new ones.
Red Flag 4: Your customer isn’t talking about future opportunities with you.
You don’t want to spend your time talking about past performance such as what happened last quarter. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage your customer in forward-looking dialogue. Instead of focusing on what has transpired, use a brief review of performance reporting as a springboard into a discussion about the future. You should consider looping in your point of contact so that you can modify your QBRs to be more relevant and forward-focused during your next meeting. Then prepare forward-looking open-ended strategic questions to prompt great discussion about the future. They can help you agree on what the future is going to look like. Come prepared with some goals, ideas, and milestones. Co-create new goals and get commitments from both sides delineating who is responsible for which action items to ensure nothing falls through the cracks, derailing progress toward mutually established goals.
Making sure you’re avoiding or eliminating these four red flags will make you stand out in your clients’ eyes. You’ll be the true strategic partner they signed up to work with by providing the value and relationship they desire. They’ll no longer dread or avoid your QBRs because yours are productive and worthwhile. Want to learn more about how to make your QBRs more valuable? Check out The Kick-Ass QBR Ebook.