Quarterly Business Review: 8 QBR Mistakes to Avoid

Opportunity Score | QBRThe Quarterly Business Review is either your best opportunity every 90 days to build accountability, commitment and focus on the company’s most important goal – achieving its revenue forecast. Or, it can be a painfully tedious waste of everyone’s time. The choice is yours. Here are 8 common problems to avoid.


8. Reactive

A well-run sales operation mirrors the 4-quarter fiscal year and the 12 ½ week cycle we repeat every 90 days. Every week and every month presents specific challenges that demand attention.  If the QBR is not regular, consistent element of our sales cadence, the tone and format of the meeting swings back and forth with the mood of company management. There is a tendency to relax after good quarter, which then sows the seeds for an angry fire drill following a miss.  Make the QBR part of your routine and calendar them for the year the same as your weekly forecast call.


7.  Administrative Burden

We tell the team Salesforce.com is the mandatory repository for all customer and opportunity data – then we make our sales people manually populate PowerPoint Slides on 5 days notice. If you include round trip flights and a 2-day meeting, we’ve sacrificed up to 10% of available selling time for the quarter to create 1 hour of face-time with company management. To relieve some of the data entry, create standard pipeline, opportunity and activity reports in SDFC that the sales person can run and copy screen shots into your presentation template. In a perfect world, these meetings would always be in person. But, rather than spend 2 weeks on the road visiting every regional office, consider Go-to-Meeting and rotate in-person quarterly business reviews.


6.  Inconsistent

Some quarters, there is a QBR, sometimes not and never planned more that 10 days in advance. The format and timing vary wildly. One quarter the focus is on pipeline and the next it’s lead conversion or message quality – always a moving target and never a mention of what was critically important 90-days ago. Sales teams thrive when there is predictability and consistency in performance measurement. Exceeding quarterly sales quota is a given. For your other KPIs keep it simple and focused on what is most important to the meeting objective. High performance sales culture is possible when everyone knows exactly what is expected so they can outperform.


5.   No Accountability

There is a human nature driven tendency for sales reps and managers to want to have something significant to discuss at the QBR. A common temptation is the shiny new, potentially large but unqualified opportunity that surfaced late in the prior quarter. Have you ever looked by at the QBR presentations from 90-days ago and compared them to the opportunities that closed or were at least in play at the end of the quarter? You should. Each QBR should begin with accountability for what was presented at the last meeting – both forecast amount and key deals. This gets directly to the credibility of the “witness” and quickly eliminates flashy opportunities that have not been vetted. There should be consequences for not forecasting quota or insufficient pipeline to support forecast.


4.  Missing Clarity

One reason we see poor close rates on QBR opportunities is the lack of a clear objective for the meeting. Which opportunities and metrics are we evaluating and why?

  • Biggest – top 5
  • Most help needed
  • Most likely
  • Major resource commitments

To enable all QBR participants to properly prepare for the meeting, clarify expectations about what opportunities are to be presented, what resources are at stake and their individual role in the meeting. Be specific about the metrics and predictors of success that will be evaluated.


3.  Unresponsive

An effective QBR is a 2-step delivery. The sales manager should vet opportunities, forecasts and resource requests as part of preparation. This is a simple screen and not an exercise in micro-management.  Quality control enables the QBR to focus more on allocating scarce resources to the right opportunities so the company will reach it’s goals. The owners of those resources should be present at the meeting to provide coaching, feedback and most important – make decisions. It is completely reasonable to expect resource decisions to be made during or immediately following the QBR.


2. Tempo

During the first few weeks on the job, there is value in having new sales reps listen in on team members forecast calls and QBRs. However, the law of diminishing returns soon takes over. If you are determined to make the QBR a team-building experience, then you have an obligation to keep the energy level high with a pace that suits a group of people you hired because they are action-oriented hunters. QBRs that leverage game mechanics such as Opportunity Scores and Reputation Points will keep participants engaged and focused.


1.  Value

The QBR cannot just be a management reporting exercise. Personal accountability and “inspect what you expect” hold true, but everyone – including the sales team – must have a stake in the outcome. Company management is interested in the validity of the sales forecast, customer engagement details and the resources required to make the number. Likewise, sales representatives should view the QBR has an opportunity to secure investment in their portfolio of opportunities. Make self-interest your friend. Resource allocation by QBR is a far better for your sales culture than “squeaky wheel gets the grease”. Quality time with company executives and thought-leaders has a lot of value to the sales team.

A sales person who comes to the QBR and forecasts quota with a high level of confidence and sufficient pipeline should be recognized as a pro. A well-planned sales campaign that reflects extensive knowledge of the prospect will make efficient use of company resources and yield lower or at least predictable cost of sales. One way to reinforce behavior and link directly to results is a commission percentage kicker for the top 3 plans presented.



Related Article: 5 Ideas to Increase the Value of Your Quarterly Business Review

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Quarterly Business Review PowerPoint Template

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About Neal Murphy

Neal Murphy is the publisher of Enterprise Sales Operations and former VP of Worldwide Sales & Operations with 20 years experience in enterprise technology.

+Neal Murphy +ESO