Account Planning

Why You Should Walk Away from Quarterly Business Reviews

Posted On
February 8, 2023
Resource Type
Account Planning

QBRs and Salespeople: The Key to True Customer Success and Growth

 

There are certain truths to life that cannot be disputed. The sky is blue, tigers are striped, and salespeople absolutely despise quarterly business reviews. A quarterly business review is typically an event that takes place over the span of a few days to a week where sellers and a customer success manager come together to align on all of their key accounts. It’s a chance to get everybody in the same room to understand which customers have the most lucrative upsell opportunities, and which are at risk of retention, or churn.

 

What is Customer Success? How does it define the Customer Experience?

According to Gartner, the definition of customer success is as follows: “Customer success is a method for ensuring customers reach their desired outcomes when using an organization’s product or service. A relationship-focused customer success strategy includes involvement in the purchase decision, implementation and use of products or services, and customer support.”

It’s an analysis of the previous quarter. What has your company done to retain and expand your current customers? Where are you as a company not meeting business requirements for your customers? This is essentially the industry standard way a sales team and customer success managers think about account management. The customer success manager is (obviously) responsible for customer success. This is based on overall customer sentiment, adoption of the product (usually tracked using customer success software), and ensuring each customer has a positive customer experience.

With this in mind, you may ask yourself, why is this an event sellers (or customer success managers) dread when it should ideally help them with customer expansion and preventing churn? The answer would differ if polled from a variety of sales teams, but there would be a common theme with most of the complaints; the process.

 

What’s wrong with how B2B Businesses look at Customer Success?

A customer success team cannot actively execute account tasks that lead to an upsell or expansion during quarterly business reviews. This is because much of the data they need and the list of tasks they must execute is hiding in a massive 100-slide deck the average sales team wouldn’t dare touch (or just forget that it exists). A standard customer success team receives training to consider account management or planning as a quarterly activity, which makes them less likely to view it as a daily, ongoing task. Which, in reality, is exactly what it should be.

The Problem

The problem here is that it’s hard for the customer success manager to retain valuable account information that could be helpful when trying to upsell customers, plus the time spent reviewing these slides takes away from actual selling time. We believe that in today’s fast-paced and data-driven selling environment, the QBR method of managing accounts is something most organizations should walk away from.

A sales manager should care about leveraging their CRM for critical account management because it can greatly improve the chances of customer success. A sales team can use a well-designed and utilized CRM to gain valuable insights and information about the customer, allowing them to create a tailored account plan that meets the customer’s unique needs and requirements. This, in turn, can lead to a higher likelihood of customer satisfaction and long-term success.

Having a CRM in place also benefits the reps that a sales manager leads by providing a centralized platform to access and update customer information. This enables reps to work more effectively as a team, improving collaboration and communication and reducing the likelihood of errors or missed opportunities. The sales manager can also use the CRM to assign tasks and responsibilities to the team, track their progress, and provide feedback and guidance to improve their performance.

CRM

Furthermore, the CRM can provide valuable insights and analytics that can help the sales manager and the customer success manager make informed decisions about how to best support the customer. For example, previous account plans’ results can be shown by the CRM, which can identify areas where improvements can be made. The sales manager can also use the CRM to track the customer’s journey and ensure they are receiving the right support and services to achieve their desired outcomes.

Overall, leveraging the CRM for critical account management can provide a comprehensive and data-driven approach to customer success. It can enable sales managers to lead their team more effectively, provide better customer support, and make data-driven decisions that drive customer success.

How to Rethink Success with Customers

So what’s the alternative? Leverage your CRM for account planning instead of opting for long Quarterly Business Review sessions. Putting your account data in your CRM allows sales teams and customer success to easily work on actionable account objectives instead of relying on long, exhaustive quarterly reviews. This will ultimately help you optimize customer success while also giving you more time to focus on what matters most: customer satisfaction and customer support.

Here are a few examples of effective ways the best customer success and sales teams use when enhancing their customer relationship management processes with the help of their CRMs:

Customer Data:

The CRM should store important data about your customers. This includes their contact information, purchasing history, past interactions, and any additional notes important regarding the relationship. You can use this information to personalize your outreach for each important stakeholder. Customer success should be able to open their CRM and understand the account’s product usage, overall customer sentiment of your business partnership via notes, and who is currently reporting to who at said org.

Sales Trends:

The data stored inside a CRM tends to reveal trends in customer buying patterns. Sellers and customer success management leverage this data to track when accounts are at risk of churn or not becoming customers. Make sure to track KPIs that move the needle when making a report or dashboard related to your account plans. What’s the average number of days it takes for a deal to close? Is there a cutoff number (say 60, 90, days after an opportunity is created) that should alarm sellers when forecasting said deal? How many stakeholders are involved in the deal? Is there an average number of stakeholders (say 6-8) that get involved before you see a noticeable jump in your win rate?

These are KPIs you can set benchmarks for once you roll out an account planning strategy to close or grow top accounts. Data is the best friend of customer success. A CRM should be, in large part, a customer success platform. Sales teams can use this information to identify potential sales opportunities and develop a more effective account planning strategy.

Communication History:

When a sales rep or customer success manager leaves a company to pursue another job, they take more than just their experience. They take with them something we call un-transferrable data. This refers to parts of the business relationship the customer success rep takes with them. And yet, it cannot be tracked by standard KPIs. Some examples include a loss in customer relationships, a loss of institutional knowledge related to their customers, the potential decrease in customer satisfaction, and related challenges when handing off the account to someone else in customer success. The CRM can keep track of interactions between your business and the customer, but the truth is you can’t track everything. Without tools to track the nuance of the un-transferable data, you always pose a risk to lose your customers. There are, however, applications designed to track this data in your CRM.

Collaboration:

The CRM can provide a centralized platform for customer success work and collaboration. It’s imperative in this day and age to have top-tier customer service. Therefore, customer success should have somewhere other than Slack (or another messaging app) to update each other on tasks and general objectives around customers. Working on tasks within the CRM using a daily or weekly cadence will improve communication and collaboration among team members. Resulting in a more coordinated and effective account planning process.

Reporting and Analytics:

Most CRMs can generate various reports and analytics. Track the success of your account planning strategies to make data-driven decisions. Initiatives put in place by sales leaders will always be questioned or challenged.  Getting very granular with your reports and dashboards on your account planning process will help you with two things:

  1. Legitimize this selling method to leadership, as well as reps. This is especially true once reps/customer success begin to bear the fruits of their account planning labor and recognize that this process is helping them win larger deals. Leadership will always be numbers-driven. So tracking your success via reports helps them digest some as complex as account planning into they something they can more easily consume.
  2. Scale the process. As always, growing your business is about finding what works, and scaling what works until it doesn’t anymore. KPIs within your dashboards should act as triggers. Green lights that go off when you finally tweak your process enough. Every company sells slightly differently, but the idea of customer success and account planning remains universal.

Summary

By taking advantage of a powerful customer success solution such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle CX Cloud, and Zoho CRM, not only will you be able to streamline your account planning efforts and increase sales performance outcomes; but you’ll also be able to save time by foregoing unnecessary quarterly business reviews and shift that focus onto actual selling activities instead!

At the end of the day, customer success is going to look different at every company. However, when it comes to account planning strategies; each organization must evaluate which tactics work best for them individually. Quarterly business reviews are not the best way to plan around your top accounts. Challenge your team to look at account planning as a daily activity. Not just a long meeting that happens every quarter. Take this perspective, leverage a powerful customer relationship management system, and you might be surprised with the results you get.

P.S.  After implementing a standardized account planning process at the beginning of 2022, we’re happy to report that we saw our win rates increase from 18% to 48%. Book a call with us here to see if we can help you do the same.

 

FAQ and Resources

 

What is a quarterly business review?

Answer:

A Quarterly Business Review (QBR) is a regular meeting held by a business. The goal is to review and analyze their performance over the past quarter. The focus of the meeting is to assess the progress towards goals and objectives, as well as to discuss the current status of the business and identify areas for improvement and growth.

During a QBR, the company’s performance metrics are analyzed, including sales figures, revenue, and expenses. The product performance is also evaluated, with a focus on identifying areas where product enhancements can be made. Additionally, customer feedback is reviewed, and the customer success definition is assessed to ensure that the company is delivering on its promise to help guide loyal customers achieve their desired outcomes.

The importance of customer success in a QBR cannot be overstated. The role of customer success is to ensure that the company’s customers are achieving their desired outcomes and that they are satisfied with the company’s product and service. Without customer success, the companies risks losing customers and hindering growth.

In summary, a QBR is a vital process for any business seeking growth and improvement. It provides a structured approach to evaluate the company’s performance, assess product performance, analyze customer feedback, and evaluate the customer success definition. By incorporating the importance of customer success into the QBR, businesses can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for growth that will ensure long-term success.

How do you present a quarterly business review?

Answer:

Presenting a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) requires a thoughtful and structured approach. The goal is to effectively communicate the results and future plans to stakeholders. Here are some key steps to consider when presenting a QBR:

  1. Begin by reviewing the objectives and goals established in the previous QBR. Provide an update on how you achieved them.
  2. Highlight the value delivered to the customer base. Showcase how the customer success function played a role in driving customer satisfaction, retention, and expansion.
  3. Provide an overview of the product’s performance, including its strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by analyzing metrics like usage, adoption, and churn.
  4. Discuss the executed marketing and sales efforts during the quarter. Explain how your efforts contributed to the overall business goals and share any insights you gained from customer and company feedback.
  5. Provide a summary of the company’s financial performance, including revenue and expenses. Be transparent about any challenges faced during the quarter and outline plans to address them moving forward.
  6. Lastly, close the QBR with an overview of the plans for the upcoming quarter. Share the roadmap for product enhancements, marketing initiatives, and customer success group strategies. Set clear expectations and goals for the next quarter.

When presenting a QBR, it is important to keep the audience in mind. Different stakeholders may have different areas of interest, so be sure to tailor the presentation to their needs. For example, the customer success group may be more interested in metrics related to customer health and retention. While the marketing team may be more interested in the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

In summary, a well-prepared and well-delivered QBR can help to align stakeholders, reinforce the value of the customer success role, and drive growth and success for the business.

What is the benefit of a quarterly business review?

Answer:

The benefits of a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) are numerous and can have a significant impact on a business’s success. Here are some of the main benefits:

  1. Provides an opportunity to review progress towards goals. A QBR provides a regular checkpoint to review progress towards the business’s objectives. This helps in keeping the team on track and identifying any areas where they may require additional resources or support.
  2. Reinforces the value of customer success: The goal of customer success is to help clients achieve their desired outcomes, and a QBR provides an opportunity to review the success metrics and outcomes achieved. This reinforces the value of the customer success function and highlights its role in driving client success.
  3. Enhances the customer experience: A QBR provides a platform to review the customer’s journey from customer onboarding to renewal. Identify areas where they can improve the customer experience. It can lead to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates.
  4. Aligns teams: A QBR provides an opportunity to align teams towards a common goal. By reviewing progress and setting goals for the upcoming quarter, everyone can be on the same page and work towards achieving the best results for the business.
  5. Helps identify areas of improvement: A QBR allows businesses to analyze what’s working and what’s not. This helps to identify areas of improvement and can lead to changes in strategy or processes that result in better outcomes.
  6. Drives sales: A QBR can help businesses identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, which can lead to increased revenue. By reviewing the customer’s progress and needs, businesses can identify new products or services that may be of value to the customer.

In summary, the benefits of a QBR are vast and varied. Use this regular checkpoint to review progress towards goals, enhance the customer experience, align teams, and identify areas of improvement. Businesses can drive success and achieve the best sales team outcomes through QBRs.

How do Customer Success Managers Help With QBRs?

Answer:

Customer Success Managers (CSMs) play a critical role in the success of a Quarterly Business Review (QBR). Here are some ways in which CSMs can help with QBRs:

  1. Facilitate the QBR process: CSMs can help facilitate the QBR process by coordinating with the sales and customer success teams to gather the necessary data and prepare for the presentation.
  2. Provide customer insights: CSMs work closely with customers and have deep insights into their needs, goals, and challenges. They can share this information with the sales team to help them better understand the customer and tailor their approach to achieve the best sales teams outcomes.
  3. Review progress towards goals: CSMs can review progress towards the customer’s goals and provide an assessment of their success metrics. They can also help identify any areas where additional support or resources may be needed.
  4. Help create an action plan: Based on the insights and progress review, CSMs can help create an action plan to drive success for the upcoming quarter. This plan can include goals, timelines, and responsibilities for each team member.
  5. Highlight customer feedback: CSMs can share customer feedback with the sales team, enabling them to identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes to enhance the customer experience.
  6. Explain the difference between customer success and sales: CSMs can help explain the difference between customer success and sales to stakeholders. While sales focus on closing deals and generating revenue, customer success association focuses on driving customer value and satisfaction.

In summary, CSMs play an essential role in the success of QBRs. They help to facilitate the process, provide customer insights, and review progress towards goals. They also create an action plan, highlight customer feedback, and explain the difference between customer success and sales. By working together, sales and customer success teams can achieve the best results for the business and the customer.

Posted On
February 8, 2023
Resource Type
Account Planning