Q-B-R you doing quarterly business reviews at your agency?

If not, you should be!

Why? Because a quarterly business review (QBR) is one of the best forums you have to engage your client in a more holistic and strategic way. When done right — and with consistency — QBRs let you:

  1. Maintain alignment with your client on progress toward defined goals
  2. Course correct as needed
  3. Secure a longer, more prosperous partnership

And how do you do it right?

By breaking it down into three key themes:

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Opportunities
  3. Thought leadership

These themes act as a compass that guides the narrative of your QBR: “What’s working, what can be improved, and what else can be done to accelerate growth?”

Let’s break it down more specifically.

Part 1: Celebrate the accomplishments

AKA: “We superseded expectations and this is your reminder of how awesome our collaboration is.”

This is arguably the easiest part.

With your client as the flag bearer, this is the proverbial victory lap you make. You’ve worked hard to achieve your goals, so set the QBR off on a celebratory tone.

You’ll want to clearly define the objectives you set previously, where the quarter’s performance benchmarked against them, and how your results positively impacted your client.

Oh, and together. Always together.

The hardest part of celebrating the wins is that it’s easy to get carried away or make it about you. Nobody likes a show of gloating and self-recognition, so be mindful that “the client is the hero” here. You are certainly instrumental to their successes, and this is your time to gently remind them of this, but they’re the ones that ultimately stand atop the podium. You’re Watson; they’re Sherlock. They’re the hero; you’re the sidekick.

Don’t forget it!

Part 2: Acknowledge the opportunities to improve

AKA: “Everything aspirational is never easy, so let’s talk about where we missed the mark and how to course correct.”

This is probably the most difficult part.

So, you just took your victory lap and showered the locker conference room with champagne. Everyone is celebrating (or should be) in jubilation. Mission accomplished. Right?

Nah!

While you’ve hopefully achieved a lot, the big game is likely far from over; it’s time to come back down to earth and show some humility.
See, however perfect you think the last few months have gone, it’s safe to operate under the assumption that even the most optimistic of clients aren’t going to be as satisfied. There’s always more work to be done; this is your time to acknowledge that.

The trick is to surface the failures from the last quarter as opportunities to further align (word to the wise, client-facing language never includes “failure.”) This is paramount. Your role is, as a valued partner ought to be, as a problem solver. Be transparent. Be humble. But be bold in your confidence for the future: “We missed the mark here, but these challenges can be overcome and here is how.”

Part 3: Be a trusted advisor

AKA: “We understand the only way to earn more of your business is by being a thought leader for your business.”

This is certainly the most exciting part.

Introducing and exploring novel ideas during a QBR is a golden opportunity to flex your brain muscles and show your client how valuable you can be to moving their business forward. It demonstrates a commitment to thinking outside of the box, which any client wants and needs, and further solidifies your place on their team. It’s the determining factor between “vendor” and “partner” — and earns you more opportunities.

Unlike Parts 1 and 2, which delve into a variety of different performance benchmarks, you’ll want to keep this section succinct. It’s not the time to blitz your client with ideas. You’ll never get anywhere. Pick a theme from the last few months and double down in the exploration. What was something you observed, something they may not even have considered, that you can elevate, ideate and engage them with?

Consider bringing a subject matter expert (SME) along for the ride here, too. They bring credibility to the ideas, allow for flexibility in subject matter conversation, and ultimately make you look good.

And lastly…

This should go without saying, but data is the cornerstone of a strong QBR. You can think of it as the DREAM: Data Rules Everything Around Me. Without it, there’s no way to generate meaningful insights. If you don’t have good insights, you’re not bringing value to the review. And then you’re wasting your client’s time, really.

So there you have it: How to run a QBR for your clients. By organizing your QBR into a narrative with specific themes, focusing on the collaboration with the client, and being consistent in how often you do them, there’s no reason why QBRs won’t lead to a better, more perfect partnership. More business for you; more growth for clients. Everybody wins.

See you at the end of the quarter!