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How to Run a Quarterly Business Review Meeting [+ QBR Template]

Strengthen customer relationships. Keep everyone aligned. Improve retention. Communicate your value. The QBR is a big customer meeting with big goals. Learn how to ace it.

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
How to Run a Quarterly Business Review Meeting [+ QBR Template]

Over the course of a customer’s relationship with your business, their needs and goals will almost certainly change and evolve. Fluctuations in the market, shifting consumer demands, and business successes and failures all shape outlook and operations.

If you’re not checking in with customers on a regular basis, it’s easy to miss when these changes affect how your customer interacts with your products or services. Depending on how their goalposts move, the value of your offerings can also change.

Quarterly business meetings, or QBRs, are one way to ensure you have a pulse on developments. Regular QBR meetings support customer success and provide valuable insights for your business.

  1. What is a QBR Meeting?
  2. Why should I conduct quarterly business reviews?
  3. What to cover in a QBR Meeting
  4. Customer Success and QBRs
  5. How Customer Success Managers Ensure Productive QBRs
  6. Quarterly Business Meeting Template
  7. Perfect Your Quarterly Business Review With Meeting Software

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What is a QBR Meeting?

Not to be confused with a sales pitch, social get-together, or executive business review, a QBR meeting is a strategic session held every quarter in the interest of customer success. A quarterly business review should cover the customer’s current business goals and address how you can support them in reaching those goals.

Quarterly business reviews allow you to maintain an ongoing understanding of your customer’s business needs. With this understanding, you can strategize the best application of your offerings to meet their goals.

In this way, QBR meetings look much more like advising and strategizing sessions than simple updates and reviews. Instead of going over key performance indicators and recycling the same ideas, you’re working with the customer to ensure their future business success.

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Why should I conduct quarterly business reviews?

There are many benefits to conducting QBR meetings with customers. These include:

1. Strengthening customer relationships.

Meeting every three months creates an opportunity to touch base, connect, and reinforce your business relationship with customers. This isn’t just an opportunity to be social, however. It’s also an opportunity to have important conversations that lead to real action and results for your customer.

2. Keeping everyone aligned.

With regular QBR meetings, it’s easy to check in on business needs and goals and make whatever adjustments are needed to meet them. It also keeps your customers updated on your own business and product developments so they can plan to make the most of your offerings.

3. Increasing retention.

Stronger relationships and alignment mean better customer retention. It can even rise exponentially if you introduce quarterly business review meetings when they weren’t previously happening. All the added attention on customer needs is sure to help with achieving results and creating sticky customers.

4. Communicating value.

Not only are you demonstrating investment in customer success with QBR meetings, the adjustments you make based on communicated needs also show that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to help them reach their goals. If your offering already does most of the work for you, it’s also a recurring opportunity to showcase that ROI.

5. Providing insights.

Conducting quarterly business reviews does more than support your customer’s success. It also provides you with important insights. Is your company consistently delivering on promises? What adjustments have been made based on QBR meeting discussions that could be applied more broadly to ensure better customer experiences for everyone?

The more you know about your customer’s business, and the more you leverage that knowledge to better serve them, the more trust you build. Establishing a regular cadence for checking in on deliverables and requesting feedback makes QBR meetings the perfect practice for ensuring wins all around.

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What to Cover in a QBR Meeting

It can be easy to get sidetracked in a quarterly business review with social niceties and the desire to pitch new ideas. However, these aren’t main functions of a QBR meeting.

Rather, your objective is to center the customer and find out where you’re meeting expectations, and where you have room for improvement. This makes the QBR meeting a perfect place to lay out a plan for making those improvements.

In terms of what gets talked about in a QBR meeting, here are some common topics:

Previous goals

One main function of a quarterly business review meeting is to track all the progress towards goals. These can include goals around implementation, product usage, or anything else your customer feels is important. Check in on which goals have been met, which are on track, and which need a recalibrated route since the last QBR meeting. A QBR presentation may be helpful here.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

While reviewing goal progress, you and your customer will likely look over KPIs to measure success. Dedicate time to reviewing past performance over the last few months or even year. This is also a good time to look at fiscal performance and quantify your customer’s ROI.

Challenges

It’s important the customer understands what challenges are in the way of any unmet goals. Without clear communication of obstacles, it can appear that your business is simply not putting in the work to ensure customer success. Be upfront and clear about what’s holding you back to maintain trust.

Opportunities

Of course, wherever there are challenges, there are often also opportunities. Plan ahead of your quarterly business review meetings to bring opportunities to the table after talking about challenges. Explain how these opportunities can be leveraged for your customer’s benefit.

Updates

Based on existing progress, challenges, and opportunities, you and your customer will likely need to update your shared goals for the next QBR meeting. Ensure that you clearly understand their business needs and goals so that you can create an executable plan for success.

Next steps

Once new business needs are understood and goals defined, make sure everyone in the room is clear on what happens next. Plot out the first few steps towards success, and assign tasks to people qualified to tackle them. Prepare to track the progress of these steps to report at the next quarterly business review.

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Customer Success and QBRs

The relationship between quarterly business review meetings and customer success is undeniable. A regular QBR meeting helps ensure customer success by:

  • Building trust. Over time, delivering on next steps and other agreed-upon action items in QBRs will demonstrate trustworthiness to your customers. This trust empowers customers to lean into your offerings, knowing they’ll deliver. With that confidence, they increase their chances of success.
  • Offering regular check-ins. If things aren’t going as planned, quarterly meetings make it possible to catch problems early and make a plan to address them. With this practice, it’s nearly impossible to fall too far off the path towards customer goals. If they do, it won’t happen for long. Keeping them on that path with regular check-ins and adjustments makes it easier to hit milestones consistently.
  • Providing an opportunity to own issues. If issues come up on your end, a QBR meeting provides the perfect context for owning and addressing them. Once you’ve learned from these experiences, you ensure smoother sailing ahead by working to prevent the issues from happening again. All of this fuels customers towards their goals.
  • Regularly acknowledging achievements. It’s sometimes easy to forget how far you’ve come when all you can see is how far you have yet to go. Quarterly business review meetings make it easy to look back on previous meeting notes and illustrate progress over time, boosting customer confidence.

Again, these regular meetings let you and customers touch base often, assisting your customer health index along the way. With the right approach and agenda, you can achieve clarity on important issues on an ongoing basis, lighting the way to success.

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How Customer Success Managers Ensure Productive QBRs

Ultimately, the responsibility of ensuring productive quarterly business review meetings falls to the customer success manager (CSM). Whether they delegate the meetings to members of the team, assigning each one or more customers, or conduct meetings themselves, the CSM needs to be invested in QBRs to get the most out of them.

Without a QBR meeting, it’s hard for a customer success manager to predict potential pain points and bottlenecks for customers. By contrast, keeping a quarterly business review on the calendar with every customer gives customer success managers a regular touchpoint to ensure delivery of more value and renewal.

While it can be hard to introduce a QBR meeting to customer success management when it’s not already a practice, getting the manager on board makes all the difference. Your first QBR will also serve as a first step towards creating a structured approach to customer success, prioritizing one to one touch with your clients, and better understanding their future goals.

To get started, you’ll need great scheduling software and a quarterly business meeting template.

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Quarterly Business Meeting Template

Every good meeting starts with a solid agenda. If you’re looking for a free resource, try our customizable quarterly business review meeting template contributed by Nick Mehta, CEO at Gainsight.

This template includes important and helpful agenda sections, along with how Gainsight incorporates customer health and product usage data into their QBR meeting.
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You may also want to incorporate your own agenda items, such as the the following.

Common QBR Meeting Agenda Items:

  • Reviewing the agenda and confirming objectives
  • Check-in and sharing good news
  • Reviewing last quarter
  • What to stop, keep, and start doing
  • Reviewing the annual plan
  • Making an execution plan for the next quarter
  • Priorities
  • Communication Plan
  • Wrap up

Create your quarterly business review meeting agenda early, filling in necessary details to ensure that both your team and the customer know what to expect. Share it well in advance of the meeting, ideally when you schedule it.

You can invite everyone to offer feedback on the agenda to get the best results. This way, your customer can raise any issues they’re having that you may be unaware of.

Your team can also share documentation on KPIs and other metrics. They can even put together a quarterly business review presentation in advance to expedite the meeting and make the most of everyone’s time.

Ideally, a strong QBR presentation will keep decision makers on both sides of the table well-informed of current issues as well as future opportunities. Followed by strong action items, you can end the meeting on a positive note with key stakeholders.

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Perfect Your Quarterly Business Review With Meeting Software

Scheduling, sharing agendas, and tracking action items for frequent meetings like QBRs is much easier with meeting software built for those tasks. Hugo is a meeting notes app that simplifies your quarterly business reviews with ease.

Access free meeting templates, collaborate on agendas, and assign action items all in one place with an easy-to-navigate interface. With Hugo, meetings don’t just get easier—they get more productive.

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