Checking in with customers regularly is good business. It's even better when you have a structured plan.

March 26, 2018

4 Min Read
Sales meeting


Ashley Ogilvie

By Ashley Ogilvie, IT Glue

The quarterly business review, or QBR, is an opportunity to sit down with your clients to discuss every success (and every failure!) of the past quarter, with the intention of defining the business relationship moving forward. A poorly done QBR comes off like a sales pitch or a glorified PowerPoint presentation, but a great QBR can advance your – and your client’s – business.

To add more value to your QBRs, incorporate these three best practices today.


1. Prepare To Succeed

An effective QBR is never an afterthought. Planning is essential to ensure that you have an engaging presentation that supports specific business goals. Make sure to send out a proposed agenda ahead of time to everyone attending the meeting, leaving plenty of time for the client to review. Not only will your client value the consideration and respect for their time, it will give them the chance to bring their own thoughts to the table.

A few things you’ll want to include in the agenda are a stack analysis, a review of SLA misses and a profitability analysis:

  • Stack analysis: Make sure that each client is using your standardized stack. If you have a one- or two-year plan to streamline a new client’s stack, the QBR is how you check the progress of that plan. Provide a scorecard to the client evaluating their stack — this tells them what needs to be upgraded soon, and what needed to be upgraded yesterday.

  • Review SLA misses: Hold yourself accountable for any SLA misses. Show the client that you know exactly why the miss occurred, and explain why it won’t occur again. This type of transparency and honesty is integral to building trust. Building trust improves retention and client referrals.

  • Profitability analysis: Some clients just cost more to service than others. If there are underlying reasons, like an outdated stack, address them. If there are factors that can’t easily be remedied, present the client with a case for higher fees. If they refuse, be prepared to walk away from the client so you can utilize your resources elsewhere. Remember: Everything you do has an opportunity cost.

2. Use a Personalized Approach

A great way to conduct a QBR is to both begin and end the meeting with open-ended questions. At the outset, ask your client what they hope to discuss and what they hope to gain from the meeting. You’ve provided your agenda, but make sure you understand theirs as well.

Focus on your client’s interaction with your service. The QBR should always be client-focused. They will take notice if you spend too much mental energy on your service — that’s when it starts to feel like a sales pitch. Be sure to identify their value proposition, their pain points and their vulnerabilities, especially ones that pertain to …

… your role as their IT provider. If you’re not sure, ask. Be prepared with success stories from your other clients to illustrate why your recommendations will work.

3. Create Good Goals

By this point in the QBR, you should have addressed what they need to do with their stack, and made sure that you are pricing appropriately relative to their cost. You’ve also taken the time to understand their needs. Now focus the conversation on creating goals for the next quarter. While your previous successes are necessary to add value for your client, they, in combination with failures, should be shaping your future.

Creating a future plan offers a good opportunity to briefly mention upcoming releases from key suppliers that could benefit your client. Consider mentioning something that your company is working on that maybe isn’t public knowledge. This deepens the relationship by confirming an element of trust between both parties. Setting concrete goals ensures both parties leave on the same page and feel confident going into the future. Next quarter, you’ll sit down and review performance with these specific objectives in mind. If the goals reflect the needs of both your business and your clients’ business, then all parties will be motivated to work together to achieve them.

Putting these best practices to work should make your next QBR feel a lot less like an added chore, and more like an opportunity for furthered success. Remember, a well-planned, client-focused and goal-oriented meeting is one of your most valuable tools for strengthening relationships with your clients. Done correctly, your client won’t be the only party that obtains value from it.

Ashley Ogilvie is a content writer for IT Glue. Ashley comes to IT Glue from a communications background and writes about MSP best practices and lean management.

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