What Is a Quarterly Business Review (QBR)? The Complete Guide

Quarterly Business Review meeting

QBR is an acronym for Quarterly Business Review. It is also sometimes referred to as an executive business review. Nonetheless, it is an ideal tool for furthering the growth of your business and your relationship with customers during quarterly meetings.

It’s a time used for evaluating customers’ growth and strategic planning to review the impact your services have had on a customer’s success. Simply put, a quarterly business review is a meeting conducted once a quarter to discuss a customer’s progress and future goals.

Quarterly Business Review (QBR)

A quarterly business review ensures customers are engaged with the plans for their company and satisfied with the results it produces. It is a chance to review the data and any challenges your customer might face. 

A customer success QBR constantly reinstates the value your service provides to its customers while maintaining an active communication channel. If used correctly, a QBR will strengthen customer relations and increase the longevity of a partnership.

What are some of the benefits of Quarterly Business Reviews?

Quarterly business reviews are essential to furthering the strength of relationships between you and your customer while building plans for success. A common theme among high-level and small business CEOs is to ignore the value of a quarterly business review and treat it as a mere chore on a long list of things to do. Don’t make this same mistake.

A successful QBR is priceless and well worth the initial setup and preparation required to conduct one. However, it will take thorough preparation and a solid plan to run a successful quarterly review. 

Here are some of the benefits it provides:

1. QBRs define clear objectives and goals

Goal setting is an essential part of achieving success. A business needs a clear focal point and objective. The difficulty comes in choosing the right goals to lead down the right path. A quarterly business review session should be a time to identify these goals and figure out what success looks like in your customer’s minds. Do they need help with their sales team, marketing department, or the organization of their internal systems? These are all great questions to be asked during and before a QBR.

2. Identifying success and paint points

Quarterly Business Review meeting

Goals are not always achieved immediately but can take months or years before completion. A good business person will understand this but still want to see progress and collect data along the way. You can set realistic timelines and keep them informed when you foresee accomplishing the goal. 

Take this time to identify any outdated strategies that may need resolving. If your customer is a marketing agency struggling with generating new leads, consider offering strategic planning, and a revamp of their lead generation techniques. 

A pain point could be a lack of strategy with the company sales team, which your business may be able to solve with some of the services you offer.  

3. Strengthen existing relationships 

Quarterly business reviews bring people together and ensure they are on the same page. Your customers will appreciate the honesty and value that the meeting brings because it demonstrates your intention of consistently seeking ways to improve your services. It also highlights the success and growth seen in the last quarter. 

4. ROI relating to the customer’s business

Use the QBR to build excitement for the future and evaluate your current position. Establish the value your company brings and look into the current ROI and predictions or business challenges you might encounter in the following months. 

It will increase your business’s reputation as a client-focused company and increase the likelihood of referrals and extended partnerships. 

5. Strengthen Executive Bonds

QBR two employees meeting

Have the executives of your business and the business you’re serving attend these meetings. It will allow them to foster deeper and stronger relationships while showing them you value their time and dedication to helping them accomplish their goals. 

6. Establish a clear direction and mission for customer success

No one should leave the QBR without understanding where they stand and what advice they will be moving toward in the coming months. 

Make your intentions clear about the challenges you will tackle and how you will add more value to your customer. This meeting is the perfect opportunity to cultivate a plan and outline the steps and overall business goals for the coming quarter.

7. Customer retention

Quarterly business reviews reinforce why a customer decided to work with you in the first place. Don’t let them forget the value that your service and business bring.

consolidate customer commitment and boost engagement

There is no such thing as being ‘over-prepared’ for a quarterly business review. The client will expect a smooth and detailed meeting that sheds light on the positives and negatives of the previous quarter. 

A confusing or difficult quarterly business review will demotivate the client and your team. 

Here are some of the things you should prepare for your following quarterly business review:

1. Business Objectives

Business QBR

Have a business plan, and be confident about where your clients currently stand versus where they need to be. 

For example, if you’re a digital marketing agency in San Francisco and your customer’s business needs to increase its ad conversion rate, then have a detailed plan. Ask questions like:

  • What platforms are most important? 
  • What data needs to be collected?
  • How much money is allocated to the budget? 
  • What kinds of ads or sales techniques will you need to prepare? 

2. Organize roles and schedules

Internal organization is essential, and knowing which people are suitable for which role is necessary for a successful business and QBR. It can be helpful to create QBR templates to record data and information and an email template to forward to your customer after the meeting ends.

Next, determine the role different individuals will play in executing the business strategy. These people should be identified, properly notified, and held accountable for the work they provide. 

3. Set expectations and hold to them

What are the goals of your customer’s business? What does success look like to them? What success have they had in the past? What expectations do they have for the services that you offer? 

Determine your customers’ answers to these questions and craft a plan that handles them accordingly. It’s always better to set reasonable expectations and then over-deliver. 

4. What is your starting point? What are the unresolved issues you should challenge?

It’s not uncommon to take on new customers that suffered unsatisfactory work or an unfinished job from their previous service provider. 

Identify these issues or unresolved goals and have a plan on how your business can manage them and achieve results.

Please don’t stop at the bare minimum but strive for excellence and figure out your customer’s needs before they do it themselves. 

5. Set realistic timelines

We touched upon this briefly, but it’s necessary enough to restate. Let your customers know what to expect, when, and then over-deliver. Try to maintain consistent communication and notify them of any changes that might be taking place. Your customer will appreciate the extra effort and dedication to the schedule. 

6. Identify the correct KPIs.

What are the right metrics and data to track? Don’t let the customer overload you with unnecessary responsibilities and tasks. 

After identifying their goals, determine what actions to take for the desired results. No business’s KPI will be the same, but the correct KPIs need to be localized and tracked accordingly. 

What content should be included in a QBR?

Brainstorming ideas

Define the customer’s strategic goals

The importance of goal setting should be well established at this point, and rightfully so. Quarterly business reviews should carefully articulate and cover the customer’s goals while providing a plan for achieving them. 

For example, SaaS companies or a Public Relations agency might aim to reach ten new media partners over the next year. Thus, enabling them to dive into a different market or sector of their business. 

Define a strategic plan for your own business

What are the goals of your own business? How can these goals align with the needs of your customer?

If you have a plan of revamping how you generate leads for your own business, then this will also apply to the goal of the PR company we used as an example above. So, inform them of what you hope to accomplish and explain how you will use it to serve your customers better.

Define shared strategic goals between yourself and your customer

Identify how pursuing your goal will end up better serving your customers. If your customer wants to reach ten new contacts, then maybe they’ve also decided that they need to book 60 new meetings for this to happen. 

Your business’s newly created lead-generating system could considerably contribute to booking those meetings and landing those contacts for your customer. Let your customer know this, and then work collectively to reach the goal. 

How can I conduct a QBR?

Setup the meeting agenda

Start with a detailed plan or strategy on how the meeting will proceed. It’s essential to avoid any awkward pauses or moments of confusion, especially if it is your first QBR with a customer. 

To do this, define the questions and topics of the meeting beforehand. It is a once-per-quarter meeting, and the QBR process should be smooth and easily replicable. 

Discuss the good and the bad 

Take some time to review the wins and successes that have happened in the past quarter, including highlighting your services’ value for the customer’s business. 

Next, evaluate any pain points your customer might be experiencing and how your business can eliminate them in the upcoming quarter. 

Review the previous quarter’s performance 

How was last quarter’s performance? Are you still on track with your goals? If you promised your customer 100 qualified leads, how many have you reached? Have there been any changes in the existing KPIs? What was the data from the last quarter? What are the details of the leads that you reached? How long did it take to get them? Did they convert into customers? Can the customer achieve more results next for the next quarter?

These are all common questions the customer may ask when looking at the results from the previous quarter. 

Ongoing projects 

Quarterly Business Review team meeting

It is an excellent time in the meeting to upsell your client and offer any additional services that your business provides. To do this, elaborate on their pain points and any services you have used to solve them. 

In addition, use the QBR to go through the current overall strategic business goals and demonstrate how you are achieving goals and taking the company in the right direction.

Delayed goals

Don’t ignore any promises that haven’t been resolved yet or a potential bump in the timeline.

Instead, keep the communication open and be honest with your client about what they should expect. It will build trust and keep them happy, knowing that customer success is your top priority.

Set up any changes in the plans and objectives of the business

Have you discovered a more beneficial and strategic way to generate leads, conduct a sales pitch, or land the meetings your customers want? Has your customer identified a new objective they wish to pursue? 

It’s crucial to maintain flexibility and attentiveness to your customer’s needs. It won’t always be convenient, but they will appreciate the effort, ultimately leading to a stronger relationship.

Evaluate progress

Use this time to concisely lay out all of the objectives you’ve set to achieve with this customer and celebrate any successes seen in the past quarter and the business’s overall performance. 

Evaluate the overall strategic goals in motion and determine how far along they are to completion. 

Discuss how you can better serve your customer

Is there anything that your customer thinks you can improve? Is there a service or reason they might be unhappy? Is the communication between yourself and the customer strong enough? How can the relationship be improved before the next quarter? 

These are all critical questions to ask and take into consideration when moving forward. That said, don’t forget to stay connected and reach out before the coming quarterly business review. It will help retain existing customers and reduce the risk of business churn.

Briefly discuss the future

Future goals may have already been discussed in earlier conversations, but it never hurts to reinforce your work and determine how you can bring even more value.

It is another excellent opportunity to mention any additional services you may be able to provide and how they might be able to expand into other departments of their business.

Finish up and final remarks

The last thing to do is provide a detailed list of who will be responsible for which roles and projects. It’s vital to outline responsibility and accountability for both the customer and your business executives. 

It’s important not to let anyone leave the meeting without clearly understanding expectations and what needs to be completed in the next quarter. 

Additional Tips

  • Some of the above topics may come up in other meeting sections. If so, record what was said and bring it up again as you move through the schedule. The notetaker can collect customer feedback, data, and other critical information. It can be imperative to have someone taking notes and recording the key discussion points of the meeting. These notes will help create a QBR and email templates for future meetings.
  • Book the following quarterly business review after the recent meeting has ended. It will show your customers that you care about the discussion and are a business committed to customer success.
  • Punctuality is critical because time is perhaps the most valuable commodity in the world. Nothing says ‘I don’t value your business” more than showing up to a meeting late.

Key Takeaways

We have covered a lot of essential topics that are to be considered before conducting a successful QBR, but to make things easier, we have highlighted four major takeaways:

1. Preparation

Don’t begin a QBR meeting unprepared without an organized plan on what you’ll cover during the session. A confusing or unorganized meeting will reflect poorly on your company and diminish the trust of your customers. 

A scorecard or chart is another great way to ensure an organized and smooth meeting. Use the scorecard to identify who is accountable for which projects and review it in the reflection process of the next QBR meeting.

2. Goal Setting

Strategic goal setting is crucial to a successful business. 

This meeting intends to be strategic and a time to determine clear goals and objectives for your business. Take the time to listen to what your customers say, and then structure your action plan accordingly. It will help reduce churn and keep the customer happy to work with your business.

3. Reflection Period

Reflection Period

A quarterly business review is an opportunity to build new strategies or plans while reflecting on successes that have already taken place. 

Use the time to discuss ROI and any changes seen in the previous quarter versus what you expect in the coming quarter. 

4. Customer Feedback for the Customer Success team

Collecting feedback should be a top priority of quarterly business reviews. The feedback provided will be essential to growing the relationship between you and your customers. The customer success team should work with them to foster stronger relationships. 

A QBR will also show you where your organization has room for growth and improvement. This knowledge can then be applied to existing customers while helping with the onboarding process of potential new customers.