Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) meetings, also known as EBR, can be a crucial part of any Customer Success Manager’s toolkit. But, of course, any meeting runs the risk of being unengaging and redundant. The last thing you want is for your meeting to go poorly and have the customer think, “Gee, this could have been an email.”
We have the antidote to snoozefest QBR meetings. With our tips, your customers will walk out energized, inspired, and excited for the next one.
You know how it feels when you go to your favorite coffee place and they know your order by heart, even when it’s a half-caff triple-shot with caramel, hazelnut, and macadamia milk? Treat your role in facilitating the QBR meeting like your favorite barista would with your drink of choice. If you have prepared the appropriate information, and it looks like you knew it by heart before they ever walked in, it will look doubly impressive to them.
At a minimum, you need to be prepared for the meeting. Create a brief agenda with points of discussion and get a feel for the flow. A quick run-through of the information a couple times in advance of the QBR meeting will make you feel prepped and make the conversation flow faster. Any time you have to look something up that you don’t have prepared, that takes some energy away from the meeting and the matters at hand.
Having said all that, it’s still a good idea to have the information on hand for any quick references you may need to make - even if you do know everything by heart. The point is not to rely on external notes to conduct the meeting.
Being prepared also means you’re up on the latest trends with your customer’s business. Your advice should be in style and aligned with your customer. The last thing you want is to look out of touch. The good news is that an ounce of preparation can help your QBR meetings run smoother and help you connect more effectively with your customer.
Ask your main point of contact (POC) about changes in your customer’s goals, implementation, usage, or userbase ahead of the meeting. Make sure you create a cushion between when you send the agenda out and when you host the QBR meeting. You want to have enough time to gather feedback and integrate it into your presentation. Your recommendations should be proactive and align with current customer priorities. They’re also your opportunity to upsell additional services.
The agenda could operate as a standalone document or serve as part of an ongoing roadmap you use to present progress on customer goals.
There’s no worse feeling than hosting a meeting that could have been an email. Everyone’s time is precious. You should strive to make the time spent in the QBR meeting so valuable that customers walk away feeling like it flew by.
However, it’s about more than keeping a meeting short. Anyone can host an ineffective, 30-minute meeting. Make the most of the time you have with your attendees. Everyone’s got places to go and things to do. You’ll win the favor of your audience if you keep them for what’s necessary.
If there are executives attending the meeting, to try limit the time they need to participate. Deliver the high-level summaries, wins, and ensure you are aligned on priorities during the first 30 minutes. Then you can excuse them and have a 30-minute session with the extended team to go over tactical planning.
If possible, get everyone out earlier than scheduled. It always feels like a bonus when you give someone time back in their day.
Think about the meetings you enjoy attending. Are they the kind that involve tons of slides and a droning presenter? Probably not. While you should be presenting tickets and KPIs, weaving a narrative around what you present helps your customer see the value behind your product more clearly. Weaving the “why” into what you present will help paint that clearer picture.
To make your presentation even more interesting, focus on facilitation versus presentation. Structure your QBR meeting in a more interactive way. Leave space for your customer to talk during the presentation to keep them engaged.
Most of that engagement can come from asking your customer hard questions during your presentation. If you see usage go up or down, ask them what happened on their end. Some other questions could include:
These questions not only serve to keep your audience active in the meeting, but they also empower them, helping them feel their stake in the conversation. Also, make sure you keep the door open for constructive and negative feedback. This is valuable time you have with your customer to gain insight they may not otherwise share.
When you’re running a QBR, you likely focus on high-level KPIs and planning, but don’t forget that individual employees make up those high-level numbers you’re reviewing. Include the perspective of end users and their stories during QBR meetings to strengthen the narrative. Social proof can go a long way! Plus, stories add that narrative feel we mentioned earlier.
Be diligent in your communications with your customer before and after your QBR meetings. Send the invite well ahead of time to ensure they haven’t booked out their calendars. Share the agenda and topics you will cover in advance of the meeting. After your meeting, send a detailed follow-up with next steps.
Don’t ever leave your customer hanging with what’s next or have them wondering whether you’ve forgotten about them. It’s better to over-communicate what’s going on than under-communicate (the last thing you would want is your customer to go dark). Provide a couple reminders to the meeting via email as well.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of facilitating a QBR meeting in a straightforward (and boring) way. But what we’re encouraging you to do is think about what you can add to the meeting to help build the relationship with your customer and continue developing trust for years to come. With some preparation, clear communication, and interactive elements, you can create QBR meetings your customers can’t wait to attend.
As a recap: