It’s the end of the quarter and your client has been having a ton of success with your product.
Your Point of Contact (PoC) is eager to share the ROI your product has delivered with the executives on their team. The Quarterly Business Review (QBR) is on the calendar and all that’s left to do is prove to their executive team that your product has made their business better, faster, and stronger. Easy, right? Well, as long as they show up.
QBRs or Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) can make or break your relationship with a client. It’s a critical touchpoint between your team and theirs to prove that their investment in your product was justified. But this can be hard if the executive team doesn’t even show up to the meeting. It’s understandable, QBRs can be long and they’ve got a lot on their plate as is, but if you can just show them that the time spent with you is worth it and convince them that your product is changing the way they do business for the better, you’ve got invaluable buy-in. Here at Gainsight, we practice QBRs and they’re something we’ve evangelized since the beginning. We feel that we’ve had a lot of experience refining our technique to get executives into the meeting and walking away satisfied so we thought we’d share some of these tactics with you.
Send them a killer email
There are many simple ways to tailor your messaging so it aligns with the needs of the executives you’re reaching out to. Here are some tips to follow when engaging with executives:
- Keep your emails brief and bulleted
- Include a clear call-to-action or an ask that's easy to follow
- Send over a clear agenda and, if possible, the slides at least one day before the meeting
- Bonus points if you include a link to content they’ll find useful
Your PoC may know who you are, but does their boss? If they don’t, it can be extra challenging to get a response from a busy executive. Peer-to-peer communication can increase engagement from execs, so if your outreach doesn’t elicit a response, see if your CCO or CEO will send an email on your behalf. To streamline the process, be sure to have the email copy prepared for review when you pose the question.
Benchmark your client’s success against other users
People can be competitive—especially executives. Why? Because their job depends on it. If their company is keeping up with (or doing better than) their competitors and peers, it’s a clear indicator that they’re doing something right. Appeal to this by showing the execs at your QBR exactly how they’re stacking up against others using your product. Provide a readout on how their team is performing compared to their peers and use this opportunity to highlight what they’re doing better and what can be improved upon. Your client didn’t purchase your product so they could be avid users—they purchased your platform/product because they believed in your value proposition and are eager to see ROI ASAP.
Work together with your Primary Point of Contact
Your PoC is a valuable asset. They have better access to the executives on their team and can share important insights. The good news is you also have something your PoC needs—you can make them look amazing in front of their boss. Work together and you both benefit! You can only do so much over phone and email, but it might be much easier for your PoC to interface with their executives. They also have a front-row seat to the questions and issues that are most pressing to their C-suite. Leverage this knowledge so you can be fully prepared for your QBR. Know the questions the executives are going to ask beforehand and answer them in your presentation before they get a chance to raise their hand.
Return the favor by bolstering their good work during the meeting. If they know you’re going to make them look good, they’re going to work that much harder to ensure their boss is at the QBR. You can also be an advocate for your PoC. If they need more resources or cross-functional support, the meeting is a good chance to demonstrate how they can be more successful with internal help.
Ask your PoC: "How can I make you look like a rock star in front of your boss?" They'll make sure their boss will show up.
Demonstrate how you can help execs reach their goals
Make it personal. You can cultivate a true partnership if you demonstrate to executives how your solution can move the needle towards their own goals and KPIs. Emphasize the need to align strategically on their goals and metrics and then tie the outcomes from your solution to their metrics. This can strengthen your case in the future because you’ll be able to show how you and your solution, platform, or product either directly or indirectly helped that exec succeed.
Time is money—make your QBR worth both
Be concise, prepared, and on time. Set objectives up front and practice beforehand to make sure you don’t run over on time. QBRs are boring if they’re just status reports or rearview mirror views on the last few months. Instead, spend the time looking forward. Rather than parroting what they can see for themselves on reports and charts, be prescriptive and provide direct recommendations for next steps that will bring them closer to their goals. Give them a chance to talk and ask questions—this is the best time for them to do it without gatekeepers. Discuss with your client where they can step up and what ways they can work together internally to achieve more success with your product.
QBRs can be lengthy, so use everyone’s time wisely by spending the first hour (no longer than that) focusing on information and discussion relevant to the executives present. Once that’s over, continue the rest of the meeting with your PoCs and let the exec go back to their day-to-day. The best gift you can give to an exec is time!
Gainsight’s Stakeholder Alignment Element can help increase executive engagement by establishing processes for regular check-ins, monitoring when there are organizational changes, and keeping an eye on stakeholder sentiment over time. Check it out here and learn more about the Customer Success Elements in CCO Allison Picken’s blog, “Gainsight Elements: The Science of Customer Success.”