SBR Image jpg

MSP Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs); Do An SBR instead

The MSP Quarterly Business Review is the MSP’s most powerful sales tool, yet 95 times out of a hundred, MSPs squander the opportunity.

Often they even make the situation worse and make doing business with them harder.

The Quarterly Business Review is when you sit down with your client to discuss how business is going for you and your client. You should use this to plan for the future; done right, this is a massive opportunity to enhance your standing with your client and increase sales. If done wrong, the best scenario is that you bore your client to tears, and the worst scenario is that you damage the relationship.

We recommend to all of our clients that they dump the Quarterly Business Review and move to a Strategic Business Review instead. This sounds like a subtle difference, but our SBR format reliably deepens relationships and increases sales.

So if that sounds good to you, read on!

If you don’t want more sales and less churn, well, I guess you should stop reading here and get back to boring your clients.

MSP Quarterly Business Review Template
Free MSP Quarterly Business Review Template

What we go over in this post (and what we don’t)

This post covers the MSP Quarterly Business Review (strategic business review) process. Not the content. We aren’t telling you what content matters to your clients, we are giving you the structure you can use to get that information from your clients.

The big trends, like cyber-security, may matter to your client, or they may not. Or maybe they matter but only within their business context.

If you go to your client and tell them they should be concerned about cyber-security they will likely nod off. But if you tell them the move that they need to make for business reasons opens them up to 3 security issues that you can protect them from, they will be very interested.

Also, the issues that everybody talks about now are lagging issues. They are issues that were a big deal yesterday. They may also be important tomorrow, but to be a strong, trusted, advisor you must stay on top of where things are going… not where they have been.

By focusing on your clients’ needs, you bring the focus to the trending issues that are on the horizon.

Want some plug-and-play MSP Quarterly Business Review, Strategic business review templates? Click here to learn more.

So, what is the traditional QBR?

What is aQBR? The format of the quarterly business review is generally something like this:

  • A few minutes of small talk.
  • The MSP talks about what is new at their company (how great they are).
  • Performance (tickets, uptime, backups, SLA and survey scores, etc.).
  • Upsell: here is all the stuff you need to buy and that I’d like you to buy from me.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t engage the client:

  • it is all about you, your actions and what you want to sell.
  • it is so low level that you can’t possibly hope for decision-makers to attend.
  • it doesn’t give your client useful information; even worse, it doesn’t give you helpful information that will let you do your job better.

Why QBRs fail 95 times out of 100

The reasons why QBRs fail are:

  1. The MSP talks about themselves, not the clients. Even if they don’t talk about themselves they talk about the things they care about such as cyber security or budget constraints. These things might matter to the client as well, but you have to learn their context before you start in on them.
  2. The MSP uses technical language and acronyms that nobody else understands.
  3. There is no conversation about the client’s strategic needs.
  4. The upsell conversation is uncomfortable and focuses the client on the cost rather than the opportunity.
  5. The wrong people are at the meeting, so you can’t get decisions made anyway.

MSPs will often bring 400-page network performance reports, detailed ticket analyses, and hardware warranty and spec sheets that the client doesn’t understand. They don’t even want to understand it. They want you to tell them what’s up and what it means.

Your clients have a business to run. They want business results. They don’t care about technology, but they would appreciate your help in getting better business results faster. Your challenge is to understand their needs and develop solutions to support them.

And that is why we recommend a Strategic Business Review, or SBR

There are three things that you want from an SBR:

  1. Deepen the relationship and show you are doing valuable work.
  2. Understand your client’s business needs so that you can better serve them.
  3. Agreement on the next steps and investments.

To achieve these goals, a good MSP Quarterly Business Review is a Strategic Business Review that focuses on their needs. You should have this as often as your client needs it: sometimes, this is annually (though that is not ideal). Often it is quarterly (we recommend at least quarterly if possible). But you may have monthly or even weekly SBRs depending on the client’s needs. Fast-changing situations require more, and static situations require less.

What are your client’s needs? They need growth, efficiency, and ease of doing business. They need business problems solved. They want to not even think about technology.

We recommend that you join your client’s quarterly meetings where possible. Even if you say nothing, listen and pay attention to their needs. If you can’t attend their planning sessions, that is fine, but you will need more discovery and conversations to understand their needs. Understanding their needs is crucial to an amazing MSP quarterly business review.

Once you get to the meeting, here is our free Quarterly Business Review Template for MSPs:

How do you conduct a QBR? Here’s our template. Use this MSP Quarterly Business Review Template to reimagine how you engage with your clients. Add value, increase revenue and become a trusted advisor.

  1. Greeting, small talk, and opening 5 minutes max. Get to the point and stay on task.
  2. Fast performance overview, talk about what went well, own issues, and update on the status of what you are working on for them. Keep this to five minutes – show a couple of simple, clear reports highlighting performance. You can have reams of additional support material that you leave behind or pull out to answer questions, but don’t go through reams of material.

    TIP: time yourself giving this part of the presentation. Make sure you can do it in five minutes.
  3. Discuss their needs, where they want to go, and what they need to get there.
    Our I-90 format is a powerful tool for this. Ask them in the meeting to reflect on their business over the last period and identify what they are proud of and regret.

    Then ask about the present: what are they confident in, and what do they lack?

    Next, ask about the future, what are they excited about what are they concerned about.

    Finally, ask for the five things they must do to feel more pride, confidence, and excitement.

    You want to do this with the group and keep the conversation to about 15 minutes.
  4. Share some relevant content or solutions. You can pick a topic you know they are concerned about or a common issue that everyone is facing – give them useful information on the topic: educate, don’t sell.

    One way to do this is to talk to your contacts at the company before the SBR and find out what is going on in the business: what issues do they face? Then you prepare to talk about one or two of these issues. Since you got some inside information, the problems will likely surface when you go through company needs.
  5. Make specific suggestions based on their needs—this is your QBR action plan highlight areas where you may want to research solutions to support them effectively. Tell them you will do the research.

    Remember, two things impress clients:
    • Knowing the answer right away.
    • Knowing that you don’t know the answer, admitting it, and then finding the solution.
      What doesn’t impress clients is making it up and getting it wrong.
    • Wrap up with your needs and plans: what investment do you need them to make and why, what programs do you want them to buy, and why (relate the why back to their stated areas of needs from section 3). Always talk about outcomes; you want to do x to get y. They care much more about the outcome than the work, so communicate outcomes clearly.

      Remember: value is the importance of the transformation in the customer’s mind, so be sure to communicate the transformation.
    • Leave behind a performance report. Printed is best. This way, you cover the nitty gritty performance details for anyone interested while ensuring that anyone who isn’t (the CEO) doesn’t pass out from boredom.
MSP Quarterly Business Review Template
MSP Quarterly Business Review Template

The Strategic Business Review Pre-work

The magic of the SBR as MSP quarterly business review is in the pre-work. You must create a context for the meeting and set some expectations.

Who should attend the strategic business review / MSP quarterly business review

The first step is to figure out who you want to attend. This meeting should be with senior decision-makers, not junior technicians. It is a CEO-to-CEO meeting, so someone senior on your side should lead it.

Remember, you can regularly have performance and metric reviews with technical people. We recommend creating a dashboard (even if it is in Excel or Word) that you frequently share so that everyone knows how you are doing technically.

The SBR is more strategic and higher level than a technical report.

To get the decision-makers to attend, the content must be relevant to them, hence the agenda we’ve laid out above.

Planning your strategic business reviews

Most SBRs will take place once every three months or so. But we strongly recommend that you don’t use calendar quarters to organize your SBRs.

You want to stagger them so that you conduct a few SBRs monthly rather than all at once. This gives you more time and allows you to set a more reasonable rhythm rather than frenetically knocking them out at the end of the quarter.

A great way to do this is to set up tracks:

  • Track one: March – June – September – December
  • Track two: February – May – August – November
  • Track three: January – April – July – October

You could add to this a monthly track, an every other month track, whatever you need. You will then use this to plan and schedule SBRs.

Scheduling the strategic business review

For the best results, you will need

  • an automated email system (like the SGM Engagement engine).
  • A scheduler like Calendly. (A Business Implementer is helpful as well).

Start the scheduling queue about 2-3 weeks before your targeted meeting time. The sequence is

  1. Send an email inviting them to your -strategic business review and encouraging them to set up a time.
  2. Wait three days, then create a task to schedule a call and send a second email.
  3. Within the next couple of days, you call.
  4. If you haven’t scheduled a meeting, send an email 2 days after your call and schedule a task to call again.
  5. Have the second call, wait 3 days, and send a final email.

Here is a diagram of the SBR (MSP quarterly business reviews) scheduling communications flow, this is what you should put in your system (if you have the SGM Engagement Engine we have pre-made scripts to start from). We may update the plan more often than we update this image, so click on the image to get the latest and greatest version:

SBR follow up diagram
Diagram of the SBR scheduling and reminder flow

Most clients will schedule a meeting at the first call or sooner. If you get zero response after this sequence, you want to find out why. This could indicate bad news or an opportunity to take some work off their plates.

Use these phone calls and emails to set the context. Explain what you want them to get out of the meeting and ask questions about their needs, wants, and concerns.

Once they confirm a date and time, put them in a follow-up queue that looks like this: :

  • the first email goes out immediately. Use it to confirm the meeting time and begin to set the context. Share the agenda and ask if they have any special requests. Remember that in this agenda you will tell them that the conversation will be about them.
  • two days before the appointment, you send out a reminder email, share the agenda, and again ask for special requests.
  • a day before the appointment, you send out another reminder, but no special requests this time!

Preparing for the strategic business review

Before the meeting, be sure to:

  • prepare your presentation, and know what you are going to say.
  • prepare performance reports such as tickets resolved, positive survey results, SLA compliance, and network performance. You may need these reports, or you may leave them behind. This is your quarterly technical review.
  • identify any issues or hurdles you must address in the meeting. If you have bad news talk to your client before the meeting to let them know and come to the meeting with a solution. You should avoid negative surprises at all costs and always couple an issue with a suggested recommendation.

Post-strategic business review (MSP quarterly business review) engagement

The money, as they say, is in the follow-through. This is where 80% of all business is lost, not just for MSPs but across industries. A good idea surfaces, and the person in charge of follow-up never follows up.

Don’t be that person.

Compile your notes, send out a summary and create any proposals you promised. Ideally, complete the next steps within 24 hours; 48 is still good, but time kills all deals, so the faster, the better.

The first one may be harder to schedule, but it will get easier.

If you haven’t done an SBR before, your client won’t be used to it. You will have to teach them the value. If you can’t get the right people in the room for the first SBR, don’t despair – deliver a fantastic experience, and word will get around.

And remember why the second sale is the easiest

The best context for an SBR is exceptional client delivery. If you help your clients succeed and value your service, it will be easy for them to buy from you again. Be a trusted advisor. Earned trust is priceless and a great way to build average customer value.

Our Leave’m Begging for More MSP Quarterly Business Review Template and Playbook

This is a done-for-you template, with e-mails, automations, instructions, and everything you need to get your MSP Quarterly Business Reviews to the next level. Make more money, make your clients happy and become the trusted advisor everyone values.

Leave’m Begging for More SBR

$27.00

The Leave’m Begging for More SBR course and template materials to turn your QBR into an amazing, value-adding SBR while making you a trusted advisor.

SKU: SBRTemplateTraining Category:

Description

Table of Contents

    How to ditch the painful QBR for the SBR that leaves your clients happy, excited, and ready to buy more.

    The SBR is an often missed opportunity to position you not as a vendor but as a trusted advisor. The one they turn to for insight, support, and all their technology needs.

    And the best part,

    It’s simple. With our program, you become the trusted advisor they need to solve business problems, rather than a vendor confusing them with jargon and acronyms.

    Here’s what you get with the Leave’m Begging for More SBR package:

    1. Plug-n-Play PowerPoint with instructions.
    2. Prewritten appointment-setting emails.
    3. Pre-built SGM Engine/Active Campaign automation.
    4. Instructions to build the automation in other bulk email systems.
    5. Step-by-step training.
    6. 30-minute consultation to ensure you get your questions answered and are on the right path to success.
    7. The “you don’t like it, it’s free guarantee.” We will give you your money back if you don’t like it and tell us in14 days. That’s it.

    There are no tricks, gimmicks, or silver bullets here. Just solid fundamentals and prewritten content that guides you through the exact process we’ve used hundreds of times to explode average customer value.

    FAQS

    This depends on your clients’ needs. We recommend an absolute minimum of once a year – if you only meet once a year, be sure to communicate with your clients more frequently through other channels.

    Twice a year works for smaller clients.

    Quarterly is best for most clients – you should meet quarterly when you are in their IT department and handling multiple projects.

    Monthly (or more frequently) if you work in a very fluid environment or on critical projects that require frequent adjustment.

    Absolutely.

    The SBR is the best way to ensure you meet client needs, build relationships, and grow customer value. Even if they don’t buy more from you, having this meeting ensures that you are aware of any issues, concerns, or derailleurs that could cost you a client.

    In the beginning, the owner or leader of the company. This is a CEO-to-CEO conversation, and you want your most senior people in attendance.

    You can’t send a technician to do an SBR. A tech will get bogged down in technical details and not support your goal of aligning to business needs.

    Once you have a VCIO program your VCIO should lead the manager. You could have a VCIO-trained account manager, or relationship manager, who is good at building relationships run these meetings. But make sure it is someone you’ve trained at a business level and whom you trust to engage executives not bore them with techspeak.

    Well… no. But.

    Person-to-person is best. Anytime you can physically look someone in the eyes, you will get a better result. But virtual works too. So on-site is best; Zoom is a close second.

    Simple: make it relevant to the CEO or decision-maker.

    • Use their language, not your language.
    • Talk about business, not technology.
    • Show the value to them of the work and the meeting.
    • Keep the meeting 60 minutes or less.
    • Avoid all acronyms always and forever.
    • No jargon.

    We had a client once who told us that he uses jargon to impress his clients. He thought it was a way of showing he knew what he was talking about. It isn’t. It is a way to confuse them and ensure they don’t buy. He couldn’t even get the technical people to show up to SBRs. Once he changed the language, leaders were happy to attend.

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