noun – A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as business partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.
Great partnerships are about achieving shared goals, which means that it’s important to have consistent and comprehensive communications to ensure the care and nurturing of the partnership.
And that’s where QBR’s come in….
What is a Partner QBR?
Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) typically take place once per quarter, usually between channel account managers (CAMs) and their partners’ leadership teams. Great QBR’s serve as collaborative meetings where CAMs and their partners share results and information about progress towards achieving mutually defined goals. While sensitive issues may be discussed, and accountabilities must be held, QBRs – serve as a great opportunity to strengthen relationships and drive forward progress with goals.
Traditionally, QBR’s happen in-person, and often combine with some social or training events with the partner team. However, 2020 has demonstrated that even if budgets and time allow for travel, we can’t always count on being able to meet face to face. Best practices should prevail regardless of the meeting format – and being able to have meaningful, data-driven reviews is the real key to success.
Despite the objective of strengthening business partnerships, some CAMs can find QBRs to be stressful. One of the most important aspects of a QBR is assessing the current numbers (revenue, sales activities) and strategizing ways to increase performance. Unfortunately, gathering this data and building reports is often time-consuming and tedious. The solution to long QBR prep times is forethought and pre-planning. Companies should have standardized reporting for channel performance and develop a QBR template making the QBR process more efficient and highly productive..
Common QBR Issues:
- No established QBR process: When it comes to establishing a QBR process, CAMs are often left to their own devices. This poses two main issues. First, if there’s turnover, the next CAM will likely have to develop a process from scratch. This decreases productivity and confuses partners. Secondly, when the QBR creation process happens in a vacuum, it may not line up with the organization’s overall business goals.
- QBR is not consultative: For QBRs to build strong relationships, the partner must feel that they’re benefitting from the meeting as well. Your partners must walk away with a feeling of illumination and motivation around your relationship. Ensure that the agenda addresses both parties’ desired outcomes. It is just as important for the partner to ‘score’ the CAM/vendor performance during the quarter as well. When CAMs conduct run-of-the-mill, one-size-fits-all QBRs, the partner will feel undervalued, indifferent about future meetings.
- Lack of accurate data: For a QBR to feel constructive, CAMs must have concrete numbers and figures to discuss attainment goal setting. Since many organizations don’t utilize partner relationship management (PRM) software to automate data capture, their data is fragmented, inaccurate, or flat out missing. This means CAMs could spend hours preparing for a QBR, yet still not have the necessary numbers to create a productive meeting.
Using PRM to Shorten QBR Prep Time:
A PRM platform can help shorten your QBR prep time by automatically tracking the following KPIs:
If your partner program distributes leads to partners, then lead distribution should be discussed at every partner QBR. If you’re not using a technology platform to distribute leads, you leave room for errors, missed sales opportunities, and unequal lead distribution.
Spreadsheets are an old-school method that leaves room for leads to be forgotten. Not taking advantage of available technology is a costly mistake, by not actively managing leads, you allow room for partner grievances to build up. Another common issue is lead follow-up. The industry standard for the number of follow-ups on inbound leads is 6-10. With many follow-ups needed, it’s evident that staying on top of your partners is critical. PRM automates lead distribution, which speeds up the process. By integrating with your CRM, your PRM will synchronize leads and distribute them. Partners will then be notified of new leads, allowing for quick outreach.
Before going into your QBR, make sure you have an organized history of lead distribution. You and your partner should analyze this list to strategize how you can increase leads and improve opportunity conversion. A PRM puts you and your partner on the same page about what’s happening with leads. Features like tasks, activities, and notes prevent leads from falling through the cracks.
Tracking revenue provides visibility into the dollar amount brought in by partners. However, tracking partner revenue isn’t necessarily cut and dry. Here are valuable channel partner KPIs directly tied to revenue:
- Revenue generated from your partners purchasing your products and reselling them.
- Tracking the revenue attributed to partners/deal registration
- Tracking the partners’ level of involvement throughout each stage of your sales cycle.
- Partner revenue by product lines or service offerings
- Sales team participation within a partner account
- Completion of training and certification programs
- Geographic coverage and/or Industry expertise
- Renewal rates of customers, if applicable
Most companies miss out on valuable data because they only track revenue as it pertains to market share analysis. By incorporating the different metrics listed above, you’ll gain the full picture of how engaged your partners are and what their potential is.
Another benefit from tracking channel partner KPI’s – this clearly identifies your leading and trailing partners. This allows you to adjust your channel investments to accelerate top performers or re-train lagging partners more effectively to get the best return on investment (ROI).
QBRs are most productive when you keep the meeting focused on high-level and strategic initiatives. Opportunity management and life-cycle analysis is a great example of something critical to the entire partner team. Share what’s been working and what can be approved. If you use a platform to track the lifecycle of opportunities, you’ll have visibility into the length and efficiency of the process.
Effectively managing partner opportunities starts with pipeline visibility. Despite having robust channels, many companies still rely on their CRM for tracking. Your CRM can be a great tool for a direct sales team, it’s not typically not designed for partner sales teams. Integrating PRM with your CRM provides a partner-centric portal for your indirect sales and gives you a comprehensive view of your sales pipeline. When companies don’t use a PRM, forecasting based on opportunities is difficult at best and fragmented at worst.
Sales cycle and process
CAMs should be armed with the data on their partner sales cycle and be ready to discuss how both teams can work to shorten it. Shortening the sales cycle leads to more closed deals, and ultimately, revenue increases.
To improve your sales process, you must take stock of your current situation. Gather the following data sets to have a productive discussion in your QBR:
- How long is your sales cycle?
- What stages in the sales cycle take the longest?
- What part of your sales process is the most expensive and time-consuming?
- Which part of your sales process needs the most work?
- What tools, training, or other resources can you implement to improve the sales process?
Measuring customer satisfaction is a metric companies commonly overlook. It’s easy to develop an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality about the end customer when your partner does the majority of interacting. However, the quality of engagement between partners and the end customer is ultimately what drives customer satisfaction and overall business.
If customer satisfaction is an overlooked metric, you could wind up with unhappy customers, which takes a negative toll on business. You should implement a customer feedback system such as the Net Promoter Score to keep your pulse on customer satisfaction. Discuss survey results and reviews with partners so that you’re both on the same page about service expectations.
Ways to measure customer satisfaction:
- Customer satisfaction surveys: Surveys can be sent by email, post-service, or in an app if applicable.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This is a basic customer satisfaction metric that asks customers to rate your product or service on a scale of 1-10.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): While similar to CSAT, NPS differs because of its aim to measure customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is an important metric, especially in the technology sector or for businesses with a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): This is a critical customer service survey. It’s a customer success metric that asks customers how difficult it was for them to get their issues resolved. CES ties into the likelihood or earning repeat business and increasing your NPS score.
- Social media sentiment: It’s essential to monitor what people are saying about your brand on social media. Whether we like it or not, consumers now air out their grievances publicly on social media. While it isn’t pleasant to read your “bad” reviews, it’s an excellent opportunity to implement feedback. As a brand, you should have your finger on the pulse of your audiences and know how you’re perceived. You can use tools like Socialmention to monitor social media buzz automatically.
Marketing capability is essential when it comes to channel management. Investing in marketing is crucial, but measuring ROI is just as important. Comprehensive data must be gathered to justify marketing spends.
By measuring campaign results, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:
- Is this a partner worth investing more marketing dollars into?
- Which incentives and programs make the most significant impact on partner performance?
- Which customers should be targeted with demand marketing campaigns?
To calculate marketing ROI, subtract marketing costs from overall sales growth, and then divide by the marketing cost.
(Sales Growth – Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost = Marketing ROI
This calculation isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Marketing ROI calculations assume that all sales growth is attributed to marketing initiatives. To get a more holistic view of your marketing ROI, you should look at month-by-month comparisons of sales. Look specifically at the months before launching your marketing campaigns. To get the most accurate marketing ROI calculation, you should be examining about 12 months of different data sets.
Without proper data collection, QBRs will continue to be missed opportunities for partner sales acceleration. QBRs with partners serve not only to strengthen relationships but to improve the sales process and ultimately generate more revenue. QBRs are often squandered or missed altogether because of how time-consuming and nerve-racking they are for CAMs. Not having a centralized digital platform to gather and track partner sales metrics is why QBRs are deemed as a headache instead of the productive assets they were intended to be. To arm your CAMs with the tools to hold successful QBRs, stop asking them to gather data manually. Utilize a software platform that automatically tracks and compiles information on revenue, sales cycle and process, leads, and customer satisfaction.
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