Strategic Business Reviews from Start Grow Manage

Better than a QBR: Rethinking your Strategic Business Review

Table of Contents

    Joe Rojas: Jeff, it’s that time of year, man. It’s QBR time.

    Jeff Loehr: QBR time!

    Joe Rojas: That’s right, it’s Quarterly Business Review time. And we’ve got MSPs that are doing it wrong.

    Jeff Loehr: Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’re doing it wrong.

    Joe Rojas: I know from firsthand experience! I remember my first set of QBRs, and I thought I had to do this because I had to tell the client what was happening with their network. I went into QBR with a 400-page report and started explaining all the problems we fixed. The CEO’s eyes start turning white, and pretty soon, he turns to a colleague and says, “Hey, I think you got this. I’m heading out.” And I was trying to get to the part where they needed to buy more stuff!

    Jeff Loehr: When you do a 400-page report, you bury the buy more stuff. Then you’re on page 401 and finally tell your client we have to replace this little thing. And that recommendation is part of your QBR, but people need to learn what you’re talking about by then. All that justification that you’ve done has actually managed to do none of the justification because all you’ve done is managed to put everybody to sleep.

    Joe Rojas: So I went and tried to get better, and I thought I needed to talk about the technology.

    Jeff Loehr: Clients hire IT professionals to deal with issues, but they want to avoid dealing with the 400-page report on network viability and issues and uptime and all these tickets that we’ve resolved.

    Joe Rojas: Right. “I never want to hear those words again, Joe.” 

    Jeff Loehr: So I guess the answer is: don’t do QBRs, right?

    Joe Rojas: What happens if you don’t do QBRs and don’t talk to your client about what’s going on? Your client may decide to move on because they aren’t experiencing the service and support they need. 

    So After two years of painful QBRs, I sat down with my team and said, this is not working. I can’t go to another one. It will kill me to sit through another one. We started figuring out what we were supposed to be doing there, which was listening and understanding what their business does. 

    Jeff Loehr: That’s the keyword: listening. So rather than doing QBRs, we talk about doing Strategic Business Reviews.

    When doing strategic business reviews, you spend more time listening to understand your client’s business needs.

    You start with a five-minute overview, then you ask them questions, and you get focused on their outcomes. Five minutes, max, for the significant metrics that matter. Then you’re asking questions. People like to talk about themselves and want to tell you what they need rather than hear about what you do.

    Joe Rojas: Strategic Business Reviews are also on a strategic cadence. I had some clients where I met with them once or twice a year. I had others with different needs and issues where I met once a month, at least.

    Jeff Loehr: So the progress is right where you need to be, and you’re having a business-level conversation with them. It depends on the project. Sometimes it’s every six months. Sometimes it’s weekly. Sometimes it’s monthly. The strategic business review is critical to making yourself sticky and increasing your average customer value. It’s not just for MSPs to do this; it’s for all service partners. 

    I remember once I had a service partner come in with 209 slides and an eight-point font for a 30-minute meeting.

    Joe Rojas: Use five slides!

    Jeff Loehr: Or one! Do not use an eight-point font on PowerPoint slides, ever. If somebody gives you 30 minutes to present, you cannot do 209 slides. When somebody can come in and say, “Here’s some solution,” it’s like magic.

    Joe Rojas: You must listen and understand your client’s business. When you don’t know what your client does, it’s hard to help them build their business.

    Jeff Loehr: If you don’t understand your customer so that you can effectively deliver an SBR, you never get to have that super profitable sale. We’ve got a template for how to do your SBRs, so you can go check that out at our website or get in touch with us.

    Joe Rojas: Get out of the pain I was in when I started!

    Jeff Loehr: Don’t be like Joe. Do your SBR the right way, and learn from our mistakes. 

    Joe Rojas: The only thing I’ve got left is to remind everybody that you are loved.

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