Your sales org just finished an eventful quarter with some outstanding deal wins, a few missed opportunities, and experienced changes in strategy from different sale enablement leaders — and now it’s time to reflect on it with the sales QBR, or Quarterly Business Review.
Though it's generally considered a relatively routine process, it still warrants a lot of thought, effort, and planning. But what does that look like? What goes into a successful sales QBR? What steps and strategies should you employ to ensure that you nail your quarterly presentation?
Let's take a closer look at what a sales QBR is and some best practices you can employ to ensure you get the most out of yours.
What is a QBR in sales?
A sales QBR — or 'Quarterly Business Review' — is a presentation where sales reps and managers are given a forum to discuss their previous quarter's performance with higher-ups. In most cases, it lets salespeople channel a quarter's results into forecasts and present actionable strategies for the future.
It's important to distinguish sales QBRs from customer success QBRs. The latter is conducted with customers as opposed to internal management. That kind of QBR is a meeting with a client to explain how you've supported their business and the solutions you've tailored to suit its needs going forward.
A sales QBR is contained within your company's sales department. It's a chance for you to highlight the better parts of your performance, address where you might have underachieved, and show that you can channel those highs and lows into actionable solutions.
The kinds of reps expected to conduct sales QBRs vary from company to company. Though anyone in a sales department might be asked to present a QBR, they're most commonly assigned to field sales reps or others who can speak to an entire team's overall performance.
What goes in a sales QBR?
What gives QBRs meaning is the information it contains, and it should cover some overarching key components:
- Key Performance Indicators: Important sales metrics like win rate, average sales cycle, and lost deal percentages.
- Reflection Questions: Analysis of the last quarter’s successes, pitfalls, and how to learn from those evaluations.
- Inspection of Current Quarter: Analysis of the current health of the sales pipeline.
- Future Planning: How the sales team will win in the coming months via strategy, consistency, or adaptation for more success.
When forming a QBR, it has to present different types of information in a way that both cross-functional leadership and sales team members can understand and learn from. To make sure your next review meets this need, follow this sales QBR template.
Sales QBR Template
1. Introduction and Setting Expectations
Executive leadership or sales enablement leaders should open the meeting by setting expectations for it. They should let the agenda be known and set the stage for the duration of the meeting.
This is also their opportunity to liven up the atmosphere with motivational and engaging openings regarding the organization as a whole to prepare the team for a productive QBR.
2. Team Deal Wins and Review
Always start with what’s gone right in the team by highlighting deal wins. When doing so, provide background information on the clients involved and how they were taken from prospect to customer.
Now you don’t have to layout the whole story, so for better time management, answer these questions to give a clear enough picture:
- How did we attain this deal win?
- What value was created for the customer?
- If there were obstacles in this deal, how were they overcome?
3. Territory Plans
So we’ve gone over positive news, keeping the momentum going with a look into the future.
This part of the quarterly business review will cover the team’s new opportunities and activities that are going to be prioritized in the current and coming months. These items should have a brief explanation and provide context as to why they were chosen. An easy tool to use for this section is a SWOT analysis visual to discuss how leadership determined the territory plans.
4. Prospecting Outreach Plans
Much of a sales organization’s success is built on expanding its sales pipeline.
In this section of the QBR, sales leaders should discuss:
- Where the org will be sourcing more prospects.
- Different strategies used for prospecting outreach.
- How these plans will affect current practices.
In addition to discussing prospecting outreach, the org should briefly discuss how it will “clean” its pipeline in case some prospecting outreach plans from the previous quarter were not as fruitful, as well.
5. Deal Losses and Support
Any major deal losses should also be addressed in the QBR because it’s an opportunity to support team members in need of guidance.
Think of this section as a time for leaders to review these losses and open the door for win-loss analysis, but in a teachable way for every team member present. Questions to discuss in this brief analysis would be:
- How did we lose this deal?
- What feedback (if any) did the prospect say about why they walked away?
- What can be done to turn around future deals under similar circumstances?
Pro Tip: You want to avoid singling out specific team members, this is a discussion to give everyone a chance to learn from the loss.
6. Takeaways and Action Items
At the end of your sales quarterly business review, it’s not uncommon for team members to forget some of the information discussed as a result of information overload.
Wrap up the meeting by revisiting the key takeaways of each part briefly, and drive it home with centralized team action items to guide the sales org in the right direction in the new quarter.
So now that you know the components of a productive sales QBR and have a template to map out your own, let’s go through how to present it.
How to Conduct Your Sales QBR
- Collect the relevant sales reports.
- Include forecasts.
- Make it visually engaging.
- Prioritize the big picture, but be prepared to field questions about day-to-day operations.
- Keep it lean.
- Cater to your audience.
1. Collect the relevant sales reports.
One of the keys to a killer QBR is preparation. You want your presentation to be thorough and trustworthy. To get there, you'll need to have your facts and figures down, and having the right materials on hand is a part of that process.
Leverage your CRM to access your sales reports, and get a feel for what you've done well and where you might have room for improvement. Try to identify sales reports that are particularly intriguing, telling, or remarkable — regardless of whether they make you look good or bad.
Some potential reports to incorporate could include different quarter-over-quarter growth reports by sales revenue, close rate, or the deals your team closed compared to your goals.
The point here is that a good QBR is data-driven. That means you need hard facts and figures to support the achievements you tout, explain any shortcomings your review might reflect, and frame the solutions you offer. You won't find that information without pouring through your sales reports.
2. Include forecasts.
A good QBR is more than a recap of what happened over the last few months. You need to address the highs and lows of the previous quarter, but you can't stop there. You have to give your audience a picture of what's to come.
The key here is to identify some crucial goals that you and your team will prioritize going forward. Show the areas that you're hoping to improve, and offer some projections of what you expect to see.
Once you have those ideal forecasts in place, explain why they matter and how you intend to live up to them. Here, you want to demonstrate that you can identify any potential room for improvement and show that you can draw proactive solutions from any mishaps or shortcomings you ran into previously.
3. Make it visually engaging.
It helps to support your QBR with a visually engaging presentation. You want to command attention and guide your audience through the review as thoroughly as you can. Having supporting visual materials — like graphs and charts — makes that process considerably easier.
As almost anyone who has worked in sales can testify, it's not always easy to stay 100% engaged with a work presentation — particularly when the presenter is rattling off numbers and KPIs. That's why it helps to have your supporting materials neatly arranged, visually appealing, and seamlessly incorporated into your presentation.
It will help you clear up some potential confusion and keep your important points from going in one ear and out the other. Clarity is key when conducting a QBR, and visual references can make yours considerably clearer.
4. Prioritize the big picture, but be prepared to field questions about day-to-day operations.
As some of the previous points have alluded to, thinking about the big picture is a key component of a successful QBR. You want to offer solutions and strategies that will show management you have a growth mindset, critical thinking skills, and an ability to translate past missteps into meaningful solutions.
Nailing those aspects of the review needs to be your main priority, but there's a good chance your audience will want to know more about the nitty-gritty elements of your efforts — they might want to understand how your team is operating and your effectiveness as a rep or manager on a more immediate level.
Don't make a point of presenting that kind of information in your QBR. Try to schedule separate calls or meetings to address that side of your performance if you can. Still, you might be pressed to explain how your day-to-day operations are going, so be prepared to field some questions on them.
5. Keep it lean.
A good QBR is generally on the shorter side, without too much fluff or superfluous details. In most cases, it's best practice to be mindful of your audience's time and keep the presentation under 45 minutes — particularly if it's conducted virtually.
Have a firmly established structure and plan for your QBR, and stick to it as truly as possible. Try to discern what needs to be included from what you'd like to address. As I mentioned in the previous point, try to keep the more intimate details of your day-to-day operations to a minimum.
Your QBR probably isn't the only one your audience will sit through. You want to capture and keep their attention throughout your presentation. The best way to do that is to trim the fat from your report and present your most pertinent information, plans, and goals.
6. Cater to your audience.
Reading the room is a must for virtually any kind of presentation, and a QBR is no exception. Keep a pulse on how engaged your audience is. If you notice attention is waning, and it seems like you're losing people, try to expedite your presentation or drum up some enthusiasm.
Maybe you call some audience members or ask their questions. You might want to liven up your body language or switch up your tone to capture some more attention. You could share a quick story or some other out-of-left-field play to shake things up.
One way or another, be adaptive to keep your audience from drifting off. That might be easier said than done. That kind of improvisation doesn't always come naturally to people — particularly during something as dry as a business presentation — but you have to be willing to give it a shot.
You need to thoroughly prepare for your QBR, and being ready to go a little off-book to rein in your audience is a part of that.
Make Your Next QBR Count
It's tempting to casually gloss over your QBRs. They might seem like any other routine obligation that you have to put up with every quarter. Though it can be easy to approach these reviews with that mindset, you shouldn't fall into that trap. Use them as an opportunity to show management that you're a capable, big-thinking rep with the skills and foresight needed to move upward within your sales department.
Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in September 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.