Why Your QBRs Suck

It’s the end of the year again and all of your top customers have had their Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) with your organization. As usual, you gathered your customers and some of your top executives to:

  • Discuss status of the project
  • Review outstanding bugs and issues reported
  • Share your upcoming product roadmap
  • Agree on a series of vague and non-specific follow items

Phew! You’re all done – time to wrap up the year and start planning for 2016. Good job, Key Account Manager, you completed all of the year’s QBRs.

I hate to tell you this, but…your QBRs suck.

They are a waste of your time, your customers don’t get any value out of them, and they are hurting (rather than helping) the relationship with your biggest customers.

How do I know? We asked your customers. Over the past six months, the Kapta team has conducted over 100 interviews with CIOs and CMOs (big buyers of products and services at most organizations).

Specifically, we asked them about their relationships with their vendors, what they like and don’t like about QBRs and status review meetings, and what vendors could improve.

The results were astounding, and not good news for most Account Managers. Only 28% of respondents considered QBRs “valuable” while 31% considered them “not valuable” and 41% called them “neutral.”

Here are some of the quotes we heard about QBRs:

  • “They are a waste of time.”
  • “Take too long.”
  • “I ask my vendors for 4 charts and they show up with 55 PowerPoint slides.”
  • “I’ve started delegating these meetings to my staff because they just aren’t important to me.”
  • “The conversation is way too tactical, not strategic at all.”
  • “They haven’t done their homework. Their executives show up and ask the same questions ever time.”
  • “The vendors just talk, they don’t ask questions or listen to what I need.”
  • “Who says these meetings have to be every 90 days? Sometimes I need a vendor communicating with me much more often, sometimes much less. But they never ask how I want to work with them.”

Ouch! That’s not the type of feedback you’d expect from customers, especially given how long you spend preparing for the meeting. [On average, vendors spend 15 to 20 hours preparing for each QBR meeting with a strategic customer.]

Here’s why your QBRs suck: you don’t know enough about your customers. There, I said it.

This is what I mean. You probably think you’re proactive, always on the ball, value-added and responsive. And I’m sure you are. But you also aren’t moving the needle for your customer, and you aren’t challenging them on how to improve their business. If you’re not challenging your customers’ thinking, you aren’t considered a strategic partner or trusted advisor. And that puts your relationship (and business) at risk.

It starts with knowing your customer. Take a step back and ask yourself, how well do you know your customer’s goals? Do you know their team objectives and KPIs? Major company initiatives? How your individual customer sees your product or service helping them to achieve their goals?

Until you have the answers to these questions, you just can’t engage in a meaningful strategic dialog with your client. But once you do, your relationship with change.

Through our surveys and interviews with buyers, they told us specifically what they are looking for in QBRs and update meetings:

  • “Strategic guidance, not just reviews of bug lists and problems.”
  • “Bring the conversation back to why we bought from them in the first place.”
  • “Bring me ideas to make me and my team look like heroes.”
  • “No bullshit. If something isn’t going as planned, own it and show me how you are going to fix it.”
  • “I want vendors to update me on how their service is helping me to meet MY goals, not theirs.”

This can be the year you take your QBRs to the next level. The next time you have a meeting with a key customer, ask these critical questions and notice how much more strategic the conversation gets:

  • Why did you buy from us?
  • What goals are we helping you achieve?
  • How can we add even more value to you next year?
  • What should we stop/start/continue doing?
  • What feedback do you have on last year’s QBRs?
  • How strategic is our partnership to you?

The answers to these questions will drive your customer engagement strategy for the year and will provide a clear roadmap on what actions you need to take in order to become a more trusted advisor. Pay attention to the answers, and to the nonverbal cues (like body language and tone of voice) that come with them.

The key to running truly great QBRs is to deeply understand your customer and link your work back to their success. This blueprint will allow you to significantly increase the value you provide to your key accounts.

Next time you’re preparing for a QBR, come back to this list. Let us know your feedback!



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.




CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.