Quarterly Business Review (QBRs) are important touchpoints between you and your customers. If done right, they present an excellent opportunity for you to prove your commitment towards your customer’s success. Executive Sponsor is the ultimate decision-maker who signs the deck, it becomes more powerful if you’re able to make him attend. However, Most often the onus lies on the shoulder of the Customer Success Manager(CSM) to get the Executive Sponsor to attend a Quarterly business review.
So, how do you ensure the presence of the Executive sponsor? How do you get him excited to attend your next Quarterly Business Review? Read ahead to find out.
In this blog, we answer a few pertinent questions-
- What to do when the Executive sponsor repeatedly declines to attend the meeting?
- Understanding the Executive sponsor business goals?
- What to do when the Executive sponsor changes
Why Should you make the Executive Sponsor attend quarterly business review?
If you’re in a b2b business and mainly catering to mid-market enterprise business, your end goal is obviously to delight your end-users. Having a good relationship with the executive sponsor definitely goes a long way at the time of the renewal. During the course of the relationship with your customer, there might be times when there have been issues with escalations or products. Having a relationship with your executive sponsor protects you from that little bit of fear during renewals.
Why would an Executive Sponsor attend QBRs? What’s in for them?
The Executive Sponsor is generally the VP level or the C suite level people from your customer’s side. They have a busy day juggling multiple things at the same time.
So, as a CSM, before you decide to invite the executive to attend the QBR, it’s important you ask yourself some important questions, like
- What value are they going to get from this meeting? Why should they care about this meeting?
A few of the basic things that an executive really cares about is
- Will it save/make more money using the product?
- Or, can s/he drive efficiency in the processes using the product
- Does it help in doing ease of business using the product
- How huge a problem is your product solving?
Apart from answers to the above questions, the other important thing that an executive really cares is
- Industry best practices
- Benchmarking studies
- How mature are their processes compared to competitors?
If you can give these kinds of insights, you are definitely piquing the interest of your executive sponsor and s/he would be interested in meeting you.
As a B2B SaaS business, you’re always interested in knowing what your peers are doing right. And, providing that kind of insight, would definitely pique the interest of your executive sponsor. That would make their time totally worth it. And it’s here, Value Framework comes in handy. A Value Framework helps your customers quantify how they can achieve their business goals by using your products.
So as a CSM, it’s important that you follow the Value Framework Model.
- What does the executive care about?
- Some of the business goals s/he is responsible for in their company?
- What is the ROI? How can you prove and Quantify it?
- What other value-added services that you can offer- apart from best practices, benchmarking studies, can you invite them to share their knowledge?
As a CSM, you also need to have an excellent relationship with the users who are using your product on a day-to-day basis. They need to understand what value your product is adding to doing their job better. They can be instrumental in convincing the executive sponsor to attend your next meeting to discuss the future goals, or how you can improve your partnership going forward. Or S/he could convince the Executive to come and share the success story of how your product has helped them achieve their business goals.
So if you do not have that relationship with the executive sponsor, as a first step start somewhere and build a champion, who could be an end-user who could be one level below that person. Go and build that trust there and make them get the right stakeholder to the call. At the same time as a CSM, you should build a relationship with the champion within the account but also consider creating executive alignment with the Executive Sponsor.
Why does Executive Sponsor dodge attending the meeting?
To answer this it’s important we go back to the main question- Why would someone not take the meeting? Most likely, because they think it’s not worth their time. They are not getting value out of it or they think someone in their team can very well do this, S/he is not required. So as a CSM you need to ensure that the person’s time is valuable and that’s possible by following the Value Framework elucidated above. It might happen that you do not get the executive to attend the first meeting, but if you build your customer success value framework, there will be a time when the executive will be ready to attend that meeting.
In the beginning, it is important to identify the business objectives and KPIs of your customers? Then map the use cases of their business to your product capabilities and create a workstream. The next step is to complete the workstream and benchmark the progress towards the goals. For example- the improvement in CSAT scores after using your product or % reduction in resolution time for support cases. So things like, where you can document a moment of value and quantify it. It’s this kind of result which an executive is interested in.
What to do when an Executive Sponsor changes?
This is a tricky place to be in. In the first three months, the new executive sponsor is just trying to figure things out in the organization. How do you get him to attend your meeting? All business goes through change and we might find ourselves in a situation where we have to build the relationship all over again. The new executive might be used to using your competitor’s product and is planning to introduce that.
The only way out in this situation is to ensure your product gets better with time. You are continuously introducing new features which will help them achieve their business goals. Also as mentioned earlier in the blog, you also have to build relationships at every possible layer. So when that happens, it becomes easier to get the new executive to attend the meeting as people from his /her team already trust you. You have already built the value framework where you can quantify the results. It is important that you be introduced to the sponsor as soon as possible and it always works if the team member does it for you. Like showing the new boss, what great work and partnership you both have built together.
And if you have that level of relationship, that is when it becomes easy. Building on the value framework will help you establish a trusted advisor relationship not only with the executive sponsor but also with the other stakeholders. So when there is a change, you will already have some champions within the account who can vouch for you with the new executive. So even if the executive has a relationship with your competitor from their previous job, having the value framework ready will help you compete against your competitor.
As a CSM, you really have to research and understand what are the business goals and pain points that the person you want in the meeting is solving? If you’re solving any of the top five challenges that he is solving it will be a little easier to demonstrate the value framework and make him attend. Even if it’s not in the top five, you have to work towards getting one step up in that engagement. You don’t have to go all the way up. Rather it’s a journey. You need to casually build that relationship and go all the way up.