In B2B SaaS, scheduling a business review is a tale as old as time. You might call them quarterly business reviews (QBRs) or executive business reviews (EBRs).
In theory, these sessions keep your customers close, make sure they’re adopting your product, and help you present the value you are providing to the customer.
In reality, we’ve heard rumblings that suggest otherwise. As the software market contracts and personnel upheavals continue, the traditional QBR feels stale—and somewhat useless—to many.
So, we took a vibe check.
We polled Catalyst’s audience to get to the bottom of the state of QBRs in 2024. Our sample pool consisted of an overwhelming majority in Customer Success (CS) leadership roles (Directors and VPs), along with some individual contributors to keep us honest about what’s happening in the field. Read our findings and conclusions below.
QBRs to everyone: Is this thing on? 🎤
To kick things off, we wanted to get a benchmark for how many teams use QBRs and/or EBRs today.
Don’t keep calm and carry on—QBRs are clearly the status quo. Although nearly every person reported using a review in some form or fashion, the rest of our survey suggests that QBRs need a major facelift to become the revenue generators your business needs.
But wait, there’s more…
We also asked a follow-up question: If you conduct QBRs, do all customers receive them or only select groups? These are the trends that stood out:
- QBRs are not for every customer
- Most QBRs focus on enterprise or high-profit opportunities with big ARR
- QBRs correlate with product/organization maturity
- The need for QBRs increases as your product becomes more complex
- The larger your organization, the more likely you are to conduct QBRs
Clearly, the question isn’t if your company should be doing QBRs. Instead, it’s about how and why.
Let’s dive in!
Now, this starts to get interesting. A QBR shake-up is a growing trend among CS leaders—almost 40% of VPs and Directors surveyed now question the value of QBRs.
Although 80% of individual contributors (ICs) agreed that QBRs are valuable, readers should note that this survey population included a relatively small sample size compared to CS leaders.
And, what stood out the most to us was combining this data with the next question. Nearly every IC and leader, regardless of whether they value QBRs or not, is dying to make QBRs feel less repetitive.
Are you surprised QBRs need a facelift? We saw this one coming. However, what’s even worse is how these top 3 challenges add up:
The above findings are truly… wild. In this economy, who can afford to continue on like this? From here, it started to become abundantly clear that:
- QBRs are not going anywhere.
- The way teams conduct QBRs could be their biggest problem (and opportunity).
One Head of CS put it this way:
“When conducted well, a QBR can provide a lot of value to an account. All that said, I think there's QBR fatigue amongst customers, and getting engagement on these calls can be tough.”
Catalyst to respondents: Explain it like I’m five ✋
Houston… we have a problem. So, let’s go back to the basics and understand how teams currently conduct QBRs.
Problem #1: Traditional QBRs are focused more on presenting vs. listening and driving customer alignment.
- 60% of respondents said they conduct QBRs with only a slide deck
- 25% use alternative methods focused more on conversation and value
- 15% pair their slides with some form of a demo
Problem #2: While 75% of conducted QBRs include a presentation, over a quarter of participants deem presentations as ineffective when meeting with customers.
Traditional, presentation-focused, QBRs continue to be the primary method of providing updates to customers but are likely missing the mark when it comes to providing customer value and driving alignment on a customer’s desired outcomes.
Alternatively, those going into QBRs with a non-traditional, conversation-first approach are seeing more success in the process.
So… what are most teams missing out on!?
To improve your customer listening skills, download our Ultimate Discovery Cheat Sheet.
Q: If you have implemented alternative QBR solutions, where has this made the largest impact on customer outcomes?
Let’s hear it from the people in the back! What are the main benefits of alternative QBRs that lead to stronger outcomes?
This feels ironic: QBRs are meant to build stronger customer relations. Yet, the alternative formats are most effective at doing this. Overall, here are our general takeaways regarding non-traditional QBR benefits:
What’s most significant here: non-traditional QBRs favor the business, first. Achieving customer goals is important, but this is a business strategy meant to produce results—we can no longer give things away for free. That’s why non-traditional QBRs work more than 80% of the time, as reported in our survey.
The traditional QBR presentation must go. By adopting a more flexible approach focused on customer listening, you develop stronger relations than your competitors, deliver a more pleasant renewal experience, and keep customers committed to using your product.
Reaching their goals becomes a natural byproduct of achieving yours first 👊
If Non-Traditional QBRs are in, what’s next? 😎
You’ve probably heard the term, “The only constant is change.” At Catalyst, we believe this is true of QBRs/EBRs—and our survey confirms this.
But our work doesn’t end here!
Catalyst is excited to announce the development of a QBR solution directly within our customer growth platform, coming early 2024.
Yes, you heard it here first. Catalyst is introducing a new way to conduct QBRs in the same place your Success teams live and breathe—all while reducing the time it takes to build and deliver them via data + intelligence + automation.
Want to learn more? Chat with our team to see how Catalyst can fuel your customer growth goals.