A quarterly business review (QBR) isn’t an hour and a half of just reading and going over reports for Darrin LeBlanc, the Client Engagement Manager with PEI. Instead, the QBR is now a half-hour of engaging conversation about what they see happening with their client’s IT infrastructure. Then, they dive into what they should do about it and what else is coming up in the future that should be on their radar.
The business changed at PEI when they started performing actual quarterly business reviews with their clients, rather than just sending quotes to clients with anything that was expiring. The quarterly business review became a chance to engage with customers at a deeper level and approach them with a plan and solution for their expiring IT infrastructure instead of just consuming them with reports and extensive quotes for replacement parts.
Now quarterly business reviews are completed regularly, every three months like they are supposed to be. LeBlanc goes into the QBR looking to have a conversation with their clients about how to best solve their problems, rather than trying to make a sale.
“On the actual day of the quarterly business review, we’re with the client, and we go over the materials that are presented and talk to them about if it’s okay that it’s expiring, and what are they planning,” said LeBlanc. “It has given us a chance to actually engage with the clients and look together to ask questions because sometimes they don’t think of all the questions that we have about what we see on reports. Now, it’s an engaging conversation about what we see, and here’s what we think we should do about it. Those types of things tend to make us look more professional.”
Executing a successful quarterly business review should be a common practice for every MSP. But, unfortunately, many MSPs are stuck in a pattern of just using the quarterly interval as a reminder to send reports and quotes to their clients without context, rather than using it as an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations.
Let’s look at quarterly business reviews for MSPs and dive into what makes them essential to a scaling MSP business.
By definition, a quarterly business review is just that; a review of the business that happens quarterly with the client. It’s a meeting where you discuss their business and how you can support them. It’s not a meeting where you are demanding tactical action, such as asking clients to specifically purchase new equipment or talk about training additional employees.
It’s often said that quarterly business reviews are strategic, rather than tactical, in nature. This suggests that the review time is an opportunity to engage with the client about the future business plans and goals and strategize how you can deliver on those goals by adding additional value.
PEI used to send their clients quotes from a spreadsheet they exported out of ConnectWise for any equipment expiring to review on a call separate from the QBR. The QBR calls were over an hour in length and mostly consisted of reviewing reports. According to LeBlanc, clients usually did not accept or show up to the meetings. To fix these issues, LeBlanc removed the heavy emphasis on reports and shifted the QBR meetings to a team-centric approach, having each of the PEI client care team members discuss the agenda items.
Reports were sent to their clients with a brief synopsis, giving them a chance to prepare questions. This turned out to be too much to ask a client to digest prior to the QBR, and the reports were phased out. On the day of the quarterly business review, LeBlanc and the client instead spent their time on more meaningful dialogue about how PEI could support their future business goals.
“You want to have a conversation with people, not make them read a bunch of reports,” said LeBlanc. “It’s not a homework assignment. After a few QBR sessions, we realized what people were looking for. So, we cut the number of reports down and held more of a conversation with people.”
By focusing on more strategic outcomes, you step away from being a vendor to the client and become more of a business advisor. It says you are more concerned about their business outcomes than making a sale. And more importantly, that you want to help them succeed. This builds trust in the relationship with the client, who will see you as a part of their business planning, rather than just a vendor to buy equipment and warranties from or call when in need of service.
Whether it’s the early stages of your MSPs growth or even with more established managed service providers, QBRs are essential for long-term business growth, and should be essential to your long-term MSP business plan.
For new MSPs, it’s an early opportunity to build a relationship with your client that can help nurture their own business.
It’s also an opportunity for experienced MSPs to reestablish those one-on-one relationships, even when growth in new clients makes it difficult to sustain.
No matter what stage of your own business lifecycle you are in, however, QBRs are a great way to maintain a strong relationship critical to your own success.
QBRs are crucial to an MSP business because of those strong customer relationships. It’s an opportunity to have meaningful discussions that allow you to highlight the return on investment your client is getting from your services and products. And that helps to reinforce your value to your client.
Engaging conversations between you and your client will lead to an honest discussion about your client’s overall business health, their future objectives, and highlights their successes. By understanding those values, goals, objectives, and successes, MSPs can tailor their own strategy for maintaining the IT infrastructure to match their customer’s outcomes rather than their own.
MSPs who regularly perform quarterly business reviews leave little doubt that they provide exceptional service in their clients’ minds. Especially those who show more significant focus on their client’s business. This will help remove any question of whether or not they will renew with you. They will see you as a critical part of their success and future growth, rather than just as a provider of service.
In the end, the idea around QBRs is to move your client’s business forward, which naturally will move your business forward. A customer’s success is your own success, even more so if you make your QBR about their outcomes. If clients feel your needs, business goals, and even profits are more important than their own, it gives them a good reason to look for another provider.
The quarterly business review is not a place to dump all the out-of-warranty servers and workstations into a spreadsheet and hand it over to the client. It’s also not a place to pitch buying specific products or services, or even going line by line and seeing what servers should be covered or replaced.
What should be included in your QBR can be aligned in three key areas:
As mentioned, the QBR is the place to discuss your client’s plans for the future and how you can help with those plans. Each part of the QBR is essential in building an engaging relationship with your client while better understanding their future goals.
Establishing goals and measuring them is a critical part of the QBR process. Knowing how well you did in the past will give you and your client greater insight into the future. In addition, measuring goals you and your client have built together makes it easier later on in the discussion to quantify the ROI of your services.
For example, some goals MSPs could track include:
Using the goals you and your client set out, you can share performance metrics with them to show the value of your services. This is a great way to keep meetings focused on what is important to the client and their business goals, without diving into other areas that do not match their business goals.
Starting with the review will also allow you to compare them to your current or future goals, leading to future strategy and planning. If you can’t identify your successes (and failures), it will be challenging to determine the ROI your MSP is providing to the client.
With current goals in place, the second part of the QBR is to develop a strategy to achieve them. This is not a sales pitch. Instead, this is an opportunity to discuss where previous goals fell short, the options to improve, and what actions will be taken to ensure future goals are met.
“Any time you are a trusted advisor, you want people to hear what you have to say,” said LeBlanc. “I don’t have to try and sell them. I have to tell them things that have to get done. So not having to sell to the client because all of the data is presented in such a way that they can see it – that’s a plus.”
By having a strategy discussion, you are focused less on sales tactics and more on solving the client’s problems and helping them achieve their goals. In addition, it allows you to handle the expertise of IT asset management and explain to the customer the value you will bring before hitting them with a sales pitch and quote.
It’s also important to identify any obstacles or challenges in meeting the goals set out.
For example, suppose the customer didn’t reach specific goals. In that case, the gaps need to be identified to ensure proper future planning to achieve those goals. There is always room for improvement. Clients will respect an MSP who is constantly trying to evolve and improve their strategy to meet their client’s goals.
The planning part of quarterly business reviews ensures you and your client are aligned on the goals set out and the plans in place. Alignment is critical in judging the success and failure of the strategy put in place and hitting the goals and targets set out by the client.
Creating an action plan will ensure both you and your client are working towards the same goals with the actions to achieve them. Leaving a QBR without putting an action plan in place can leave you open to missing critical deadlines and goals, or falling short on opportunities.
At this stage, there will be plenty of talk around pricing and the cost of service. Still, it’s critical that MSPs remain focused on their customers’ goals and moving their business forward. So continue to speak about the value your MSP brings to their company, the ROI of hiring your business, and how you will achieve their goals and move their business forward.
A quarterly business review can mean so much more to your business and your clients. By putting a strategic plan in place, MSPs can get in front of their clients and talk about their goals, plans for the future, and how to execute on those goals, without sounding like a sales pitch.
ScalePad Lifecycle Manager is geared towards making QBR presentations a strategic conversation. By utilizing the DMI score and Insights, MSPs can identify the assets that are at risk, and address them with the client in a manner that fulfills their long-term goals. Without it sounding like a sales pitch to sell more warranties or replace assets.
“I would say if you’d like to give your QBR process and the look of your presentation to your clients a shot in the arm, Lifecycle Manager is the absolute natural answer to that issue,” said Leblanc. “It presents everything in such a way that makes you that much more professional to your clients.”
Get the Free Edition of Lifecycle Manager today and see how your quarterly business review process can improve with an automated MSP software.