Why You Should Walk Away from Quarterly Business Reviews
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?
QBRs are not designed to help a customer success team actively execute account tasks that lead to an upsell or expansion. 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). Because a standard customer success team is trained to look at managing their accounts, or account planning, as a quarterly activity, they are therefore less likely to look at account planning as a daily, ongoing, activity. Which, in reality, is exactly what it should be.
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 well-designed and utilized CRM can provide valuable insights and information about the customer, which can be used 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.
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, the CRM can show the results of previous account plans and 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 QBR 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:
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. This information can be used 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.
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. This information can be used to identify potential sales opportunities and develop a more effective account planning strategy.
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, but 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.
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 to help you track the success of your account planning strategies to make data-driven decisions. Sales leaders will always be questioned or challenged on initiatives they put in place. Getting very granular with your reports and dashboards on your account planning process will help you with two things:
- 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.
- 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 or 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.
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 QBRs 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. If one thing is certain, it’s that 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. Prolifiq was certainly surprised with the results. 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.