The average startup is likely new to the concept of quarterly business reviews (or QBRs), with no defined processes in place. That’s understandable as most early stage time is spent simply trying to get the company off the ground.

But virtually every startup will benefit from the implementation of QBRs, as they act as a measuring stick for company or project performance. Additionally, they are crucial to the long-term success of a venture. Used both internally in organizations and as part of client communications, QBRs are an integral yet often overlooked part of any business’ best interests.

Data, and the technology that supports it, is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to monitoring and fostering customer success. To optimize that technology, startups must build real relationships with their customers. Face-to-face interaction cannot be replaced — no matter how far-reaching technology gets. That’s where Quarterly Business Reviews come in.

Let’s look at how startups can implement QBRs in an effort to begin benchmarking the right metrics and ensuring long-term focus.

What is QBR and Who Should Participate?

Quarterly business reviews are in-person meetings with clients on a regular quarterly basis to review progress. Take a strategic approach to these meetings over a tactical one.

The QBR is a chance for you to better understand the needs of customers and figure out how to best deliver more value to them. The goal is to act more as an advisor than a provider at this point. It’s a good idea to put specific people in charge of these meetings acting as go-to Customer Success Managers.

If meeting face-to-face with every client four times a year is cost-prohibitive, choose the top ones and schedule those — at least to start. Think of those clients who most need and deserve the support of your business.

Internally, QBRs can also benefit growth within an organization. They often take the form of performance reviews for employees. A quarterly approach is recommended for these internal reviews as well.

Areas of focus for external QBRs

When conducting QBRs with clients, below are some recommended ways to structure an effective meeting:

1. Set the agenda. Ensure that all parties have a copy of the itinerary in advance to prevent the conversation from getting off track. It will also lead to better questions, more feedback, and aligned expectations as to what will be covered.

2. Focus on ROI. Be cognizant of what the customer’s goals are, and honestly access where the company has delivered results and where there is room to improve. Use objective data points whenever possible.

3. Benchmark. Providing a customer with on-going assessments of how they have progressed since engaging with your company, and where they stand relative to their competition is very beneficial. Benchmarking helps illustrate value.

4. Set quarterly goals. Based on the prior quarter’s performance, have recommended goals and strategies ready to present to show a commitment to continually optimizing performance.

The value of quarterly business reviews is not limited just to company-client interactions. Conducting QBRs internally is a highly effective forum for providing constructive feedback to employees.

Many startups find that providing meaningful feedback to employees is just as important as the latest teaching tools, whereby people’s performance can be greatly improved by getting the right feedback in the right format.

Areas of focus for internal QBRs

When conducting QBRs internally, there are a few areas of focus that startups can keep in mind when meeting with their team members:

1. Review what’s been going on: While still fresh in everyone’s minds, deliver a cause-and-effect review, going over the deals won last quarter, what could have been done differently, how to turn around losses, and uncover missed opportunities.

2. Discuss pipeline health: Be sure to review pipeline coverage for the next quarter, and determine if there is a good mix of long shots and low-risk deals on the horizon. Are there deals that can’t seem to get out of a certain stage in the sales process? Do prospect needs gel with your value proposition and channels?

3. Have a forecast discussion: Does the plan bring confidence to the table? Consider best and worst cases, and which deals can replace those that may fall through.

Keeping an open communication plan going is key to conducting an effective QBR.