The Quarterly Business Review, or QBR, is a great forum for sales managers and enterprising salespeople to separate themselves from the pack. After all, the best reps are CEOs of their territory, thinking holistically about their business and knowing what makes their patch unique.

Yet too many managers and reps think of QBRs as simple account reviews, instead of as a forum where reps and sales management align on territory plans, and reps indicate their ability to execute on those plans.

Since all of us in sales are goal-oriented, I’ll give sales managers a concrete goal: Your reps should look back on your QBRs, quarter after quarter, and say, “Those were the toughest meetings of my life, but I sold more and earned more because of them.”

Below I’ve outlined three high-level questions every sales leader should ask to ensure effective QBRs for their reps and region:

While last quarter’s performance is still fresh, reps should deliver a cause-and-effect review.

  • The deals we won last quarter and why
  • What we could have done differently — and when — to turn around losses
  • The deals we could have won, if we had been in the running

Sales managers should be focusing on deep thinking and easy takeaways during the QBR, not elaborate presentations. Before you meet, send out the questions you expect each rep to answer. Don’t throw curve balls, especially when other managers and executives are in the room. You need confidence in their plan, and they need confidence that you’ve got their back.

At the end of the quarter, reps can easily lose sight of pipeline health. With this in mind, the QBR is the time to take stock of:

  • The pipeline coverage (i.e., pipeline divided by quota) for the upcoming quarter
  • If there is the right mix of deals in the pipeline, both long-shots and low-risk
  • If there are pipeline deals stuck in a specific stage in the sales process
  • If deals that are forecasted two to three quarters out can be brought in
  • If the needs of prospects in the pipeline match your value prop and channels

Realign with your reps on your ideal customer profile. Don’t be surprised if your first QBRs with rigorous pipeline analysis result in a slimmer, and even scarier, opportunity set. Forty real opportunities are better than 150 dart throws.

Additionally, don’t wait until the QBR to discuss pipeline. In the first two months of every quarter, make pipeline health part of your one-on-ones. Overcommunicate about how to balance near-term selling with pipeline building and know your minimum pipeline coverage ratios. Be skeptical when a rep focuses exclusively on deals far above your average size, as they may put the next two quarters at risk.

Every QBR should include a forecast discussion and commitment to it. A manager must decide whether his reps’ plans delivers confidence, based on the following:

  • The deals in their commit, best case and worst case
  • For each of those deals, the results to date and the plan to close
  • When some of those commit deals inevitably fall through, the most likely and best case deals that can take their place
  • Where the rep can find new deals that can be opened and closed in the same quarter

These questions may feel intimidating, but deal and activity questioning has to be built on a foundation of trust — both a manager’s trust in getting the straight story and a rep’s trust in the manager to help.

 

Somrat Niyogi is the VP of business development at Clari. Before joining Clari, Somrat was the co-founder and CEO of both Stitch, a mobile-first sales productivity platform, as well as Miso, an early pioneer in the social TV space. At Miso, he led the overall vision of the company through multiple rounds of financing with top-tier investors, including Google Ventures, Hearst, and Khosla Ventures. Niyogi has worked at early-stage startups most of his career in various roles, including business development, sales, and product. Niyogi started his career at Salesforce in 2003. Somrat graduated with a BS in computer science at the University of Texas at Austin.

Too many managers and reps think of QBRs as simple account reviews, instead of as a forum where they align.”

Somrat Niyogi | Vice President of Business Development, Clari
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