The end of Q1 is fast approaching. As CEO, you’ll soon be kicking off the first Quarterly Business Review (QBR) of 2015.


How productive will your QBR be?


That depends on whether sales and marketing leaders understand what’s expected of them. They must be ready to help you make intelligent business decisions.


If you want to optimize your meeting time, proper planning is essential. Here’s a checklist of things you need to consider.


1. Time the Meeting Right

One of your chief concerns should be where the QBR falls on the calendar.


Schedule your QBR at least a week prior to the board meeting. Give yourself time to align your team and clarify your message. Ideally, your QBR output should flow right into your board presentation.


One week before the QBR, send the QBR dashboard to all participants. All pertinent data and updates should be communicated in advance.


Bottom line: Make sure you and your leaders are ready to hit the ground running.


2. Get the Metrics Straight

All QBR participants should be measuring progress the same way. Without previously agreed-upon metrics, you’re opening the door to inadequate or distorted reports.


A quarterly run rate paints a clear, definitive picture.


Let’s say your annual sales goal is $10 million; the quarterly run rate is $2.5 million. Your sales leader must compare his team’s performance against that benchmark.


If sales are below expectations, an A-Player sales leader won’t make excuses. Instead, he or she will have already taken steps to mitigate the damage.


Bottom line: Eliminate the possibility of cherry-picked data or Pollyanna spin.


3. Make Expectations Clear

The QBR isn’t an update meeting; it’s a working meeting. This distinction is huge.


When you sit down with your team, there should be no surprises. Nor should there be any doubt about what should happen next. Sales and marketing leaders own the numbers; they’re also responsible for solutions.


These are the questions they must be prepared to answer in detail:


  • What’s been done before?
  • What did we learn?
  • What’s being done now?
  • How will we correct course? (Where should we invest? How much do we need?)


If targets aren’t met, leaders should already have a remediation plan in effect. The best leaders come to the QBR with a few quick wins to demonstrate measurable progress.


Bottom line: The QBR isn’t about the metrics. It’s about how your team is converting your growth strategy into executable steps.


4. Help Leaders Identify Obstacles to Growth

Think of the space between strategy and execution as connective tissue. Broken tissue inhibits growth. Your sales and marketing leaders need help finding and repairing the breaks.


Where do these breaks usually occur? Mid-level management. Your leaders’ lieutenants don’t understand the strategy or how to implement it.


  • Perhaps your sales leader is overly focused on making the number. The number itself is the strategy. The sales team has no idea how to achieve the goal.
  • Maybe your marketing leader favors certain channels and allocates accordingly. But he or she hasn’t identified which channels generate the most interest and demand.


Bottom line: If there are disconnects in sales and marketing, show your leaders where to look. Emphasize the importance of establishing, communicating, and executing a clearly defined growth strategy.


Want to help your sales leader better prepare? Here’s our QBR Best Practice Checklist.


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