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Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are essential for any business seeking success. They offer a unique opportunity to engage with customers, build strong relationships, and drive growth. However, creating effective QBRs can be a challenge, especially when trying to cater to a diverse range of attendees who may not fully understand the session's value.
That's why we've enlisted the help of IRONSCALES' expert team, including Gil Gorni, Customer Success Team Lead and a winner of the ‘Most Creative CS List of 2023’, and Tom Ambar, Customer Success Manager in Gil's team. In this blog, we'll debunk common misconceptions about QBRs and provide actionable strategies for creating QBRs that are engaging, relevant, and valuable to customers.
Common misconceptions about QBRs
Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are often misunderstood by both customers and customer success managers (CSMs). Customers may mistakenly believe that QBRs are lengthy, data-driven slide deck presentations with little practical value, resulting in disengagement from the call. Meanwhile, CSMs may rely too heavily on generic templates and slide decks, failing to tailor their approach to the specific needs of each customer and resulting in a lack of relevance and value for the customer. This is often due to the time-consuming work of preparing a personalized QBR deck. However, there are tools available to help automate various parts of the process, increasing efficiency and freeing up time for CSMs to focus on more strategic initiatives.
Main challenges of QBRs
- Communicate their purpose and motivate customers to attend.One of the biggest challenges in conducting QBRs is effectively communicating their purpose to customers and motivating them to participate actively. Many customers may not fully understand the value of QBRs or the impact they can have on their business, viewing them as a chore and not prioritizing them. Moreover, the high-level information presented in lengthy slide decks filled with too many numbers and less practical information can be intimidating for some customers, resulting in low engagement and participation. To overcome these challenges, CSMs need to find creative ways to deliver the message and communicate the value of QBRs to motivate customers and improve their engagement. Providing training in communication skills can help team members express themselves more clearly, listen actively, and provide feedback effectively, while also identifying and addressing communication barriers before they derail the QBR meeting.
- Time-consuming preparation. Another significant challenge is the time it takes to create QBRs. Preparing for a QBR meeting can be a time-consuming process that involves reviewing key metrics and data, analyzing it, and creating reports and presentations to present to the team. Automating some of these processes can free up time and reduce the workload required to prepare for a QBR meeting, but it's essential to remember that QBRs often require thoughtful analysis and strategic thinking, and automation should be used to complement rather than replace human expertise.
New Model for QBR: Conversational QBR
It's time to transform the approach to QBRs. Typically, the preparation process involves a rigid structure that focuses on presenting lengthy slide decks full of data, which is common in most companies. However, this approach has proven to be ineffective in engaging customers and fostering productive conversations.
To create an engaging and conversational QBR meeting that cultivates a stronger partnership and relationship, you should do two main things:
1. Conduct a brief discovery before the meeting that covers various aspects of the customer's business. By asking the right questions, you aim to identify potential opportunities and risks that the customer may not have considered before. Examples of questions include:
- Updates on the organizational structure
- Current information security architecture
- Product usage review
- Lear the next Q and yearly goals of your customer
2. Focus on achieving three main goals during each QBR:
- Strengthen the relationship: This is the perfect opportunity to get to know each other better.
- Emphasize the product's value: This is an excellent opportunity to highlight the unseen value that customers may not be aware of.
- Demonstrate ROI: Show the customer how your product provides a return on investment.
By covering these three points and involving the right people, the benefits of the QBR are straightforward. The customer is more engaged, and the team has excellent action items for the rest of the quarter. Moreover, new opportunities may arise, ultimately leading to a more successful partnership.
What activities can you do to help you achieve those goals?
- Case studies: Share success stories and case studies to demonstrate how your product has helped similar customers achieve their goals. This makes the benefits of your product more tangible and relatable.
- Customized presentations: Customize your presentation to address the customer's pain points and demonstrate how your product can help solve their specific challenges. Avoid using generic slide decks. To excel at this task, ensure that you allocate ample CSM time towards crafting and compiling strategic stories, rather than performing monotonous and repetitive tasks.
- Open dialogue: Encourage a two-way conversation by asking open-ended questions and actively listening to the customer. This builds trust, rapport, and provides valuable insights into their needs and goals.
- Storytelling and visual aids: Decide on the story you want to tell your customer before creating the presentation and incorporate visual aids like diagrams, flowcharts, and infographics to simplify complex information that aligns with the presented story.
- Know what to automate and what to personalize: Creating a conversational QBR requires to free up some CSM time with automating several parts of the content creation allowing the CMS to focus on the more strategic activities.
3. Don't overlook the CFO: Occasionally, even if the person making the decision is keen and we have a strong pitch, we still require approval from the CFO. It's not only about demonstrating the product's value to your target audience, but you also need to speak the language of the ROI matrix and emphasize how it saves money. It's critical to quantify the worth of your product to the company in terms of cost reduction, streamlining, and expansion. This is especially important in 2023, as the CFO will want to comprehend the advantages of every approved budget and how it contributes to cost savings.
The Impact of a data driven conversational QBR
The mind shift for a more conversational QBR at IRONSCALES has had a profound impact on the business, resulting in increased customer engagement and satisfaction.
By using discovery questions, the team was able to identify new upselling opportunities and risks for their customers, leading to a substantial increase in NRR by 107-115%. Additionally, the QBRs facilitated the early identification of high-risk customers, with a consequent reduction in churn and a GRR of 93-95%.
The more engaging QBRS helped the team include executives from both sides in the meetings which allowed for the establishment of new relationships and contributed to the revenue growth. While you cannot solely attribute revenue increase to QBR only, the IRONSCALES team firmly believes that the QBRs played a significant role in deepening their relationships with customers and building their reputation as a customer-centric company.
In conclusion, investing in conducting effective QBRs can be a game-changer for any business. By prioritizing relationship building and using discovery questions, companies can see an increase in customer engagement, identify new opportunities for upselling, and minimize risks. The benefits of conducting effective QBRs go beyond revenue growth and can lead to reduced churn and increased customer satisfaction, which is crucial for long-term success. Additionally, it's important to recognize that effective communication skills are vital to the success of QBRs. Investing in your team by providing them with the necessary training and resources to acquire these skills will ensure that your QBRs are impactful and that your customers are satisfied.To achieve the full potential of QBRs, it's important to free up your CSMs' time from repetitive tasks, which can be automated, and make sure that they invest their time in more strategic work. By prioritizing effective communication and automation, businesses can maximize the benefits of QBRs and achieve even greater results.