6 Things That Make Great QBR & 3 Things That…Don’t

Great QBR

I’ve talked before about the Quarterly Business Review being a table stake for having a solid Customer Success strategy. Truth be told, I’m pretty passionate about Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs). I’ve seen them done well, and I’ve seen them performed in the worst way possible. Before we get to the meat of QBR greatness, let’s look at the top reasons to perform them:

  • Promotes adoption
  • Aids to assure retention
  • Builds relationship
  • Identifies upsell


Quarterly Business Reviews are traditionally performed, ahem….quarterly…but being cheeky aside, quarterly may not be the appropriate cadence for all SaaS vendors. There are some organizations that might need to perform certain QBRs monthly, semiannually, or even annually. The right cadence for your company will depend upon a few things:

  • Size/need of customer
  • Life cycle phase (onboarding, etc)
  • Agreed upon service levels


Great QBRs include several elements that set both the client and the SaaS provider up for success (pun intended). A recent online conversation between two veteran Customer Success leaders Nils Vinje from Glide Consulting and Paul Reeves from BetterWorks resulted in identifying these six essentials:


  1. Reinforce the value the customer is getting from your product
  2. Review the goals set up from the last QBR
  3. Set new goals for the next quarter
  4. Establish your standing with the customer (how are <we> doing?)
  5. Capture and sell the wins your customer/program manager is creating
  6. Capture and sell the work you’re doing as part of the relationship


“One of the most important things accomplished in a QBR is to come away knowing exactly what you will work on for/with the customer over the next 3 months” says Vinje.   A killer for most customers is the inability to recognize real value from your product/services. Setting up SMART goals with your clients during the QBR process is a solid method to drive value and help your clients to realize it fully.


“The real focus for the QBR is value realized/created, but customers value the effort you put into the work that is otherwise invisible to them,” Reeves adds. He makes a crucial point; where value has been created, don’t be shy about helping your customers to see that. The work your company performs to help your customers solve their business problem(s) has value and your customers will certainly find it equally as important.


Both Reeves and Vinje agree that verifying where you stand with the client during each call is another method to receive validation for the value that you’re providing. Through that corroboration you’ll learn if the account is willing to renew or if there is work that is still to be done. Best practice advice from Vinje is to ensure that you’re customer has experienced your product/services for a minimum of 6 months before opening up the QBR to answer this question.


One last bit of advice comes from Paul, “Be sure that your program manager or other stakeholder is attending the (QBR) session and that she/he has helped to prepare the presentation deck. You need allies in the meeting. The QBR is no place for surprises.”


QBRs drive value to your company through identification of your company’s value to your customers. It’s an interesting symbiotic exchange of sorts. There are some definite hazards that can cause some issues during the QBR process to keep an eye out for:


  1. Ensure that the executive sponsor is involved (Don’t conduct QBRs in a vacuum where value at the top levels aren’t realized)
  2. Avoid covering every open technical issue (It’s appropriate to cover some of the high level items that are being addressed, but do not use your hour as a venue to update on every open case)
  3. Don’t “check in.” (A QBR is strategic, avoid treating it like a house call)
Keri Keeling

Keri is a results-driven Customer Success leader with deep experience in helping SaaS vendors build and grow their Customer Success team's operations and strategies. With over 21 years of experience, she has built Success teams for companies that range in size from start up to publicly-traded.