Quarterly Business Reviews
WHY ARE Business Reviews IMPORTANT?
There are basically two types of periodic customer reviews: Retrospectives and Business Reviews (also known as Quarterly Business Reviews, or QBRs). Retrospectives are typically conducted with admins and users and are very tactical. Business Reviews, on the other hand, are strategic meetings with executives designed to deepen the relationship and enhance the value ‘of’ and ‘for’ the customer.
There are three primary reasons for conducting Quarterly Business Reviews:
- to perpetuate an enduring relationship with the buyers of your software that fosters mutual advocacy,
- to understand any changes to their business that may impact adoption and growth potential, and
- to unlock any potential for expansion.
Business Reviews provide the framework for you to have regularly scheduled meetings with executive sponsors (buyers) to confirm that they are still deriving value from their purchase, and they allow you to plant seeds for expansion and advocacy opportunities.
WHO NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO DO Quarterly Business Reviews?
Business Reviews are typically conducted by Customer Success Managers and, sometimes, their Directors or VPs.
PUTTING Business Reviews IN CONTEXT
Business Reviews are held with executive sponsors and happen less frequently than Retrospectives. While they are often performed quarterly, business reviews can occur less frequently. However they should definitely have a regular cadence, and happen no less often than semi-annually.
GUIDELINES FOR Business Reviews
In the subscription economy, Business Reviews are very important meetings. They are the opportunity you have to meet with executive sponsors to affirm value and solidify your relationship. Because executives are busy, Business Reviews should be calendared early, and reminders should be sent to impress the importance of the meetings.
Here are some basic guidelines for incorporating Business Reviews into your Customer Success model:
- Have a routine cadence for Business Reviews. Agree to the frequency of these meetings early on, and revisit the desired cadence annually. Most customers expect these meetings to happen quarterly, but if you find that’s overkill, don’t hesitate to shift to semi-annually. Less than semi-annually is not ideal. You want these meetings to keep your finger on the pulse of the client from an executive level. Business needs and shapes shift. You want to have these meetings calendared to stay on top of these shifts and how they affect your relationship.
- Include both admins and executive sponsors. You don’t want or need users to attend Business Reviews. Since executive calendars fill up, be sure to schedule Business Reviews early. Ideally, you will schedule the next Business Review as the last item in your agenda during each business review meeting.
- Summarize an update from your last Retrospective(s). Don’t spend time digging into the weeds of what’s working and not working with the platform. The goal for this meeting is to understand more about their business, but if they have concerns about your solution, be sure to give them an opportunity to bring them up.
- Solicit their input on your product roadmap. Executives and sponsors are the ones who will serve as references and advocates for your solution. By soliciting their input for improvements and enhancements, they begin to consider themselves valued partners. This is essential in cultivating true advocates.
- Focus on strategy. Use this time to elevate your conversations into strategy. Are there bigger problems you can help them solve? Try asking them to articulate their 6, 12 and 24 month goals, and discuss ways that your solution can facilitate the attainment of these goals. You want to increasingly learn more about their full ecosystem, getting a broader picture of their organization. Treasure these meetings as ways to identify growth and expansion opportunities.
- Be prepared to demonstrate ROI. This topic may not come up at every Business Review, but you should be prepared to discuss it at least annually, and prior to any renewal conversations. Know their investment. Know their desired outcomes. Ideally, prepare a brief analysis of their ROI for one of your Business Reviews in advance of them asking for it.
- Be transparent about your goals. It should not be a surprise to your customer when you bring up renewal. The timeline should have been addressed during a former retrospective and, unless the account is at risk, renewal should not be a difficult conversation. Alert your customer of renewal status beginning 6 months ahead of time, and again 3 months ahead. This gives them ample time to prepare and renegotiate. Additionally, if there are expansion opportunities within the account, be upfront about how you will be communicating with an account manager to have additional conversations.
WHAT DO WE LEARN THROUGH Quarterly Business Reviews?
Quarterly Business Reviews are extremely valuable opportunities for executive relationship-building. Do not take them lightly. Be well prepared, and know your goals. Don’t waste anyone’s time by getting into the weeds about features and functions. Keeping the conversations at a business level will allow you to unlock possible opportunities for expansion and advocacy.