The sales quarterly business review (QBR) is a perfect time for a firm to gauge performance against goals and make adjustments for identified issues. However, for companies to take full advantage of the QBR potential, managers need access to accurate and timely data to ensure that any course corrections—especially when it comes to reporting performance to customers—are guided by accurate insight.
Customer-facing Departments Need Centralized Data
Consider recent research from Aberdeen Group that finds that customer-facing departments like sales and marketing are faced with a range of pressures prompting them to explore business analytics.
“The biggest issue bearing down on customer-facing employees is data deficiency, with 46% of respondents citing inaccurate or incomplete data informing too many decisions,” the report notes. “Employees who work directly with clients are on the front lines of the organization. In their day-to-day [activities], they can see how deficient data impedes sound decision making and ultimately leads to squandered opportunities for new and repeat business.”
In addition, 29% of surveyed organizations report that too much data was inaccessible or underutilized for analysis; and 28% say more decision makers want or need analytical capabilities. Seventy-one percent of the top-performing companies have a single central repository of financial performance information, according to the report.
“A single outlet for this data ensures that employees across the organizations are all working from the same version of the truth,” according to the report. “This one version can easily be checked for accuracy and updated to reflect the most recent performance snapshot.”
Overhauling the QBR Process
So, how should companies bolster the QBR process to ensure they are taking full advantage of it to identify new threats or opportunities when discussing performance with customers? Sales Benchmark Index, a sales and marketing consulting firm, suggests that the QBR needs an overhaul.
“The core problem may not be the actual QBR itself,” says the firm. “The real problem is in how we think about the exercise as a whole. Don’t think about it as checks and balances. Don’t think about it as an opportunity for you to showcase your value. Instead, think about it as a buyer-focused event.”
The firm suggests companies take these steps to increase the value of the QBR:
- Develop a scorecard four weeks before the QBR that includes the metrics that would be most important to customer
- Schedule a meeting with the customer to present the scorecard
- Obtain confirmation from the customer on its success metrics and revise the scorecard based on customer feedback
- Ask customers to complete the scorecard and return it prior to the QBR
- During the QBR, engage the customer by discussing the results of the scorecard
- Apply data from the scorecard across quarters to show trends in performance
- Develop plans with customers to address any concerns or unearth opportunities
“Good customer service is about building relationships,” the post notes. “Strengthening partnerships. Improving performance. The QBR is a great way to achieve all of these things. Anyone can drone on and say, ‘look what we’ve done for you.’ Instead, take a good hard look at the account. Then you can say: ‘Here’s what we should focus on next quarter to move the needle.’”
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