Revenue Leadership

Quarterly Business Reviews Are Coming. Are Insights Lacking?

Revisiting the Ritual for Quarterly Business Reviews

As each quarter closes, the revenue team, fresh off of their intense push to close deals, faces their next challenge – preparing for Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs). There is no break in sight! As a RevOps leader, I have helped to prepare for and execute over a 100 QBRs cycles, and the intensity of the quick turnaround to QBRs is enough to drive anyone, especially the RevOps team, crazy.  

The mad rush and dozens of requests from executives and managers consumes so much effort that there is no time to refresh or work on anything else. The value of QBRs is certainly known, so this effort is justified. But most of us aren’t getting full value from QBRs – and this needs to change. 

QBRs offer a chance to step back and assess the past quarter, identifying successes and areas to improve. This is also a time to plan strategically for the upcoming quarter and beyond, pinpointing focus areas, tactics for improvement, and necessary changes in execution. Companies should analyze trends, performance shifts, and business adjustments, engaging in frank discussions about what is and isn’t working. That often gets short-changed!

Broad participation in QBRs is essential. Participants should approach these meetings with an open mind and honesty, especially when discussing underperformance and targets for attention. Every idea and piece of feedback is valuable for driving positive changes. Although individual and team performances are discussed, it is crucial to remember that QBRs are not performance reviews but opportunities for collective understanding and improvement. 

Screenshot from Revcast showing quarterly actuals vs. plan on street quota capacity

Pull Up and Look at the Big Picture

My RevOps teams very much try to ensure that the QBRs are delivering as much value as they can, helping our partners think about what they are sharing and presenting in a strategic manner with deep insights. They all love to tell us how “strategic and data driven they are!”  The reality is often much different. 

QBRs can become too tactical, merely rehashing the details of deals won, lost, or postponed — information that is generally already known.

QBRs should instead aim to deliver on the following broad goals:

  • Delving deeper, analyzing performance trends and their impacts. It's about identifying root causes and understanding whether they represent isolated incidents or broader trends.
  • Teams should build narratives that provide hypotheses, supported by data, explaining the outcomes of the quarter and what it means going forward.
  • The focus should be on gaining insights, not just reciting statistics, and using these insights to identify potential risks and opportunities, as well as strategies for future improvement.

RevOps is there to assist. Use the team for this, leverage their insights and knowledge, jointly identify the key narratives and brainstorm on recommendations going forward. If you use them only as data administrators, you will only have data sans the deep insights. 

Everyone Presents, Everyone is Invited

A QBR with only the sales team is not a QBR. QBRs are a time for the entire revenue team to understand performance collectively, share conclusions, and align on future actions. This requires a transparent and truth-seeking process with shared accountability.

Each team leader should be required to present their QBR to their peers. The Vice President for North American Sales, the BDR and Solution Engineering Leader, the GM of EMEA Sales and RevOps leaders, for example, should all be presenting QBRs and their narratives.  

But it doesn’t end there. The leaders of the various marketing teams (demand generation, product marketing, content marketing) need to have dedicated QBRs sessions as well. HR/Recruiting, FP&A and Product should also share through a GTM lens their quarter's achievements and misses and things that they are doing to impact revenue performance going forward. 

RevOps can help to stitch these together across teams and orgs, understand discrepancies and investigate conflicting opinions. This transparency fosters accountability across all departments affecting revenue. All meetings should be open to at least directors and above, including C-suite leaders, with attendance encouraged, to foster a shared understanding of business objectives and needs.

Using a solution like Revcast also helps bring together the data and insights spanning your full pipeline and sales capacity – looking at not just actuals vs. plan, but also future projections so you can adjust go-forward tactics and focus.

Revcast tracks and visualizes quarterly pipeline creation capacity actuals vs. plan

Look Around All Corners

If your QBR ends up only being: “Let’s focus on key deals for next quarter!” then, yippee, you are just having another forecast meeting. There is nothing more frustrating to RevOps when participants want to spend the majority of time focusing only on deals and not the bigger picture.  Be strong RevOps, don’t let it happen.  💪🏽

As mentioned above, too often QBRs focus on deals and leads and only deals and leads. This does not provide any view of overall GTM performance, trends, and needs. Broad analysis and insights are required to see the full picture. This includes:

  • The full funnel moving all the way upstream to leads and marketing programs. 
  • It may also include discussion around messaging, competitive positioning, pricing and packaging and ICP that all have an impact.
  • Product impacts PLGs strategies, ability to close new business, upsell and retain. 
  • Capacity to both generate pipeline, close deals and manage customers is critical, including key performance and trends around hiring, hiring velocity, attrition, internal movements of reps, ramp performance, street quota and attainment.

A thorough review of these areas is crucial for making informed strategic decisions.

For example, you often need to take a closer look at your ramp performance actuals vs. expectations. Understand ramp performance differences across segments, teams and cohorts.  This is especially true in an environment of increased attrition, including internal promotions or transfers. Underperformance has a vast impact on ability to deploy enough productive capacity to achieve your pipeline and revenue targets. Over-performance reduces plan risk, but if you may be costing you more then it should especially in ramped quota or hiring too early.

Ramp performance tracking in Revcast

Not Just "FYI." We Want Action, Action, Action!

If the room is only saying “interesting” then moving on, you are missing the whole point of QBRs. The objective from gathering insights and driving a narrative is to identify, align on and commit to action to improve performance. This may be very specific and tactical related to a team or marketing program. Or it may be a larger undertaking such as gearing up a program against a competitor, creating an enablement program to better articulate value, or adjusting sales org structure, territories, or motions.  

Make decisions during QBRs, task people with conducting deeper analysis, and provide recommendations if needed. Identify, assign and track actions.    

Make QBRs Easier to Execute and More Enriched

The quarterly routine of dumping on RevOps to gather data, prepare charts and graphs, create slides and write bullet points is untenable.  Maybe the biggest challenge with executing QBRs is the massive amount of work and effort that goes into preparing for them.  Most of this effort is related to data: collecting, validating, organizing, filling in the gaps, formatting, slicing and dicing. Some guidance:

  • Create common templates across all teams to drive consistency making them easier to consume and to complete in subsequent quarters.
  • Ensure that fundamental capacity-related KPIs in these templates are being captured: hiring status and velocity, ramp/onboarding times, attrition, leave times, rep movements, attainment by quota types and pipeline actuals vs. plan.  
  • Automate the capture and the presentation of those KPIs where you can. This is what Revcast is designed to do, as all the data is there for you to toggle between different time views, segments and teams.
  • Leverage 3rd party solutions, sharing screens or taking screenshots directly from these solutions.

Good Luck!

Spending time doing the above will reduce the administrative time needed for the data gathering and presentation effort leaving more time for the higher impact task of analyst, driving insights, building a narrative and a set of recommendations. Done correctly, QBRs are a vital tool for advancing the performance of your revenue organization.

(P.S., catch a demo of Revcast to see how our product significantly unleashes your QBR power, by shifting your time from data to insights and strategy.)

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