Your First 100 Days as an Account Management Leader Part 4: Establishing a QBR Cadence

Account management leaders may be tired of hearing about it, but you can't manage what you don't measure. A quarterly business review is a time-tested — and successful — strategy for keeping accounts on your radar and ensuring all of your customers feel supported. 

Good account managers can use QBRs to gain insight into problems with processes, communications, and bottlenecks so they can implement improvements over the next quarter. Ultimately, they strengthen relationships and ensure the peak of the relationship isn't just when the customer signs on the dotted line. 

AIS Now emphasizes its own adoption of QBRs, stating, "More times than not, once a deal is signed, the communication between the sales rep and the customer begins to fizzle out." This leads to inevitable churn, poor customer satisfaction, and poor retention. Explore what QBRs are, how building a regular cadence can help you strengthen client relationships as an account management leader, and what you can do to get the most out of each meeting.

What Is a Quarterly Business Review?

A quarterly business review is a quarterly meeting between you and a key client to assess past performance and future possibilities. This conversation would be done by an AM and can cover grounds such as:

  • Were there any service, product delays, or disappointments that negatively impacted the client?
  • What is the quality of communication? Would the client prefer more or less communication than they got, and what were their favorite and least favorite interactions?
  • What services or interactions would the client have wanted to see that they didn't?
  • What interactions or levels of service were particularly helpful or enjoyable?
  • To what extent did your organization aid in the customer's success over the past quarter?
  • If you have conducted a QBR:
    • Were issues from the past QBR substantively addressed or resolved?

This conversation should help you get direct answers about the customer's satisfaction, budget, needs, and more. Of course, a QBR doesn't just focus on past performance. It should also cover the customer's short-term and long-term goals across the next quarter, opportunities for your organization to provide additional services or support, and progress along KPIs or toward the implementation of big projects.

Quarterly business reviews are more than a pulse check on customer service or even a tool to create a deeper, more strategic understanding of your client. The QBR itself is a manifestation of good customer service. By proactively reaching out and taking the time to converse with clients, understand their needs, and truly partner with them, you're providing customer-centric service they're unlikely to find anywhere else. So even with hiccups, the occasional frustration, and complex asks that require a lot of trust, they're more likely to trust you and your organization.

This rosy view of customer relationships is an essential part of building great customer-facing culture. But it's a cold, hard strategy, too. With a standardized QBR template and workflow for each of your key, strategic, and high-dollar accounts, your account management and leadership teams can:

  • "Resell" your services to the client: Competitors are constantly reaching out to your clients with marketing tools, counterclaims, and enticing offers. A QBR lets you tout your organization to clients with extremely personalized messaging so they can reaffirm their choice.
  • Explain your product and the value your client is getting at scale: When your client first signed up, their knowledge of your products' and services' value was hypothetical. Now it's more concrete. You can go over those past and current wins and then apply that value to growing projects or future use cases.
  • Get early warnings: Customer churn, early terminations, and contract renewals that don't increase as expected all have a negative effect on your revenue forecasts. If those predictions are wrong, your leadership team needs to know that as soon as possible so they can refine the numbers. Early warning signs let you course correct the relationship — if you know the client is frustrated before they leave all together, you can solve the problem, or at least reduce the damage.
  • Avoid churn: The longer you can hold onto accounts, the better. Customer acquisition is much more expensive than customer retention. Poor customer retention also makes your business less stable, creates a negative brand reputation, and jeopardizes internal company culture.

Discover everything you need to know in your first 100 days as an Account Management Leader.

How Can Implementing a QBR Help Me and My Business?

Any company that has long-term customer contracts, subscription models, or recurring purchasers can use QBRs to strengthen relationships and get clarity. It may seem like another to-do on a never-ending list, but creating QBR processes, scheduling them with your client, and consistently having those quarterly meetings is good for your business. Some of the key benefits for you, your account managers, and your business are:

  • More data: QBRs bring tiny details you may already know into greater prominence. They also give you more insights, more details, and strategic elements for future sales or services.
  • Good relationships: Consistent contact makes client relationships easier, even if it seems like an upfront time commitment. Customers will be more at ease, bring up problems in a more constructive fashion, and won't be as frustrated with problems that would otherwise never come to light.
  • Consistency: QBRs give your AMs an organized structure so they know how much contact is expected and how to communicate with clients.

Every quarterly business review is productive for the clients, too. They have a platform to air frustrations or uncertainties. They also feel better knowing they're being listened to and are important to your business.

What Does a Successful QBR Look Like?

Successful QBRs are structured, predictable events. To be prepared, your AMs should have the following information and areas of focus:

  • Notes from the last QBR
  • Past customer health scores
  • The last quarter's product performance reviews
  • Data comparing performance against expected goals
  • Notes about short-term and long-term goals
  • Action plans to meet goals or address problems

Having all of this information before the meeting even starts is crucial. AMs need a centralized database of past notes, performance details, and reviews so they have valuable talking points and can manage the meeting efficiently. Just like clients want to know they are being listened to now, they also want confirmation they were listened to in the past.

What Does a Successful Quarterly Business Review NOT Look Like?

While these meetings shouldn’t just focus on the negative, they shouldn't be completely positive, either. AMs need to make sure that QBRs don't turn into sales meetings, pitches, simple confirmations about contact details and benchmarks, or an overview of successes. These meetings are opportunities to listen to your customer’s biggest pain points and wins, ensure that your organization is actually providing value, and determine how to increase that value over the coming months.

Get to the Heart of Your Accounts During Every Quarterly Business Review With Help From Kapta

CRMs and simple client files aren't robust enough to help you put your best QBR foot forward. Kapta's customer-centric account management platform is designed to foster client-AM communication so everyone wins. With our software solutions, you have all of a client's information neatly organized at your fingertips so you can have a successful QBR that allows you to proactively take your client to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about our software or to schedule a demo.

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CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.