A lot of sales organizations hold a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) after quarter close. I often get asked if a QBR is a waste of time. It depends on the answers to some important questions.
- Did you use performance data to make decisions during the review?
- Were gaps in strategy or execution identified with actions to close?
- Were best practices and case studies shared with two-way dialogue?
- Did the sales team in attendance walk away with new capabilities?
- Is your sales team aligned on how they will make the number?
If done correctly, a QBR can be a great catalyst for the next quarter. The problem is most leaders don’t know how to conduct one. Sales teams are asked to get up and give a review of their business. The typical “dog and pony” show has little value to a sales organization. In many cases the costs outweigh the benefits.
What is a QBR?
A Quarterly Business Review is a meeting that is conducted virtually or in person. The purpose is to have sales leadership and stakeholders review performance and objectives. The key is to not just look backwards, but to also look ahead. Meeting every quarter allows a sales organization to make adjustments real time. There is no need to wait until next quarter or worse, next year. World class sales organizations have a consistent QBR cadence.
Learn the right way to conduct a QBR by downloading the QBR Best Practice Checklist.
Why are we here?
Many sales managers come to the QBR full of anxiety. If they had a good quarter, they are expected to get up and brag. If they had a bad quarter, they will face the wrath of senior leadership. As the sales leader, it’s important to foster an environment of improvement. Every sales meeting should be an opportunity for your team to get better. The QBR is a great place to share ideas. Don’t just focus on the negative. Structure the meeting so best practices and key wins are discussed in detail.
9 Common Pitfalls of the QBR
Many leaders conduct meetings with limited goals and focus on actionable outcomes. This lack of planning turns the QBR into an expensive sales “meet and greet”. Here are 9 common pitfalls that sink the typical QBR:
- Having the wrong audience attend
- Focusing too much on past performance metrics
- Having an unstructured agenda
- Not using data to drive conversations
- The meeting pulls people away from selling for too long
- Allowing conversations to get off topic
- Leaving with little or no action plan(s)
- No new capabilities learned by the team
- Lack of previous QBR action items updates
Let’s examine the first three from the above list.
Having the wrong audience attend– There is a tendency to have too many stakeholders attend the QBR. Try using this approach when finalizing the list. “Are they going to add or receive value from being in the meeting?” If they aren’t, then leave them out. An example would be to include a Marketing stakeholder. They should be in the meeting, if they are actively involved in lead generation. Spend time discussing how the demand generation efforts are impacting sales results.
Focusing too much on lagging indicators– Lagging indicators are past performance metrics. When reviewing the business, ensure you are also discussing leading (forward) metrics. These can help you gauge future success. Here are some examples of each:
When reviewing look at how you can replicate past success. Then look for areas that fell short. If you missed your number, take a look at the Sales Leader Recovery Plan. Set aside part of your agenda to strategize on filling the gaps. It may be you need new leads in the top of the funnel. It could also be a gap in your product portfolio or skill set. Make the adjustments in the QBR and set a time and date for follow-up.
Having an unstructured agenda– This is one of the biggest pitfalls. When building your agenda, make sure you are very specific. This means specific topics, time slots, and participants. Having a vague topic for more than an hour can get you off course. Build in sessions to share ideas. Conduct an expert panel where a team talks about a key win. Remember, your team is not selling when they are in the QBR. Make it worth their time.
Bonus tip– You will probably have team members presenting slides. If so, have a presentation template that everyone uses with no more than 7-10 slides. Have the slides titled with the key item(s) you want them to discuss. This will keep the discussion focused on key topics.
Finally, remember why you are having the QBR. Getting the team together to “talk” is a waste of time. Stay focused on the end result and use the QBR Best Practice Checklist to keep you on track. Make it a point to schedule your QBRs for the remainder of the year. Take this opportunity to lead by example and build upon each previous QBR.