Solution Reviews and Business Reviews? They are not the same thing? Nope.
Conducting a quarterly or annual review is critical to the ongoing development of a partnership, but the content must be relevant and important to the audience. Over the past couple of years, I have seen many templates floating around and admittedly, looked for that perfect template myself. Relationships can be incredibly complex to navigate, as we often have to work with an executive, steering committee, IT, process owners, procurement and others when selling and servicing a customer. We need to shift our mindset around what gets communicated to the customer during these meetings.
Let me define two different conversations – the business conversation and the solution conversation. I don’t want to get too hung up on the titles, but want to outline that there is the potential for doing two different types of reviews/conversations. For some companies doing one may make sense, but as you scale your Customer Success initiatives and build out a relationship map or framework, you can distill the content of a business/solution review into two buckets and then adjust the frequency of delivery.
The “Business” Conversation and the “Business” Review
- Frequency: Divide your contract length into two or three equal parts and deliver at that interval (likely every 12-18 months). Do this more frequently for top accounts.
- Audience: Top executive contact (VP or C-level contact)
- Original reason for purchase
- Focus on ROI
- Customer’s strategic initiatives for coming year
- Qualitative impact
- General vendor update
This is not the meeting to get into granular usage or support. The executive is already hearing this from the internal team. The executive should be able to walk away from the meeting with a clear understanding that what you are selling clearly supports their business and when it’s time to sign the check that they are comfortable speaking about the value you provide and the ROI they are receiving.
Pretty straightforward so far, right?
The “Solution” Conversation and the “Solution” Review
Frequency: Divide your contract length into four or six equal parts and deliver at that interval (likely every 6-9 months). Do this more frequently for top accounts.
Audience: Process Owners (Director or Manager level contact)
- Product Utilization
- Customer Satisfaction
This is where you want to get into the weeds and make recommendations. These are typically the folks that are more closely connected to their employees or customers that use your software. Process owners are always looking for ways to be more efficient, drive overall product adoption, drive utilization, and want to network and know how they compare to other companies in their industry or companies of a similar size.
So why wouldn’t you want to include some of these elements into the business review? There’s no concrete reason not to, but I’m firm believer in honing the messaging to the right audience and giving them the tools to make positive change. While product utilization and product adoption are important to the executive, they likely aren’t focus. Arguably, you should be talking about product utilization, engagement, and customer satisfaction with the people that “feel it” and having this type of solution related discussion regularly will make the renewal a non-event.
Here are the key areas you should prepare for in a Solution Review:
- Progress to Date
- What progress have you made over that last period against their goals and initiatives? What support had you specifically provided to make them successful?
- Utilization Recap
- Are they using everything? Provide some metrics, make some recommendations, and benchmark them against comparable clients.
- This is a partnership. Are they working well with you? What do you want to ask for? Are they a reference?
Here are the key areas that you should ask the client to prepare for in a Solution Review:
- Internal Changes
- Are there things you should know and prepare for? Org changes? New systems or processes?
- Overall Satisfaction
- Ask for quantitative and qualitative feedback here. What does success look like?
- Internal Metrics
- What did they report and how was it received?
- Initiatives for Next Period
- What do they want to achieve over the next period and what help do they need?
Use the Solution Review process as a regular planning tool. This will ensure continued alignment in support and expectations around service. Having a couple Solution Reviews under your belt in advance of a Business Review allows you to have an executive discussion focusing on things that matter and avoiding a broad brushstroke approach to demonstrating value and impact.