The sales QBR — or Quarterly Business Review — is one of the most straightforward, open forums for a salesperson to demonstrate their critical thinking and strategic planning skills to stand out from their fellow reps

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.

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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 varies 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.

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.

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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. Obviously, 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 on some audience members or ask for 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.

It's tempting to casually gloss over your QBRs. They might seem like routine obligations — borderline nuisances 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.

Always take them seriously, and 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.

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Originally published Sep 15, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated June 15 2021


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