Dear Leaders,

My letter to you today is a practical one and covers the topic of establishing a QBR (Quarterly Business Review) process for your inside sales teams.  Once considered something that only field reps would do each quarter, QBR’s have slowly been gaining popularity for inside sales as well.  QBR’s can be defined as individual sales rep reviews of the results, forecast, and future activity planning for each rep and their respective territories. Here are some simple tips to getting the most out of an established QBR practice for inside sales.

  • CONSISTENCY: Establish a cadence of once each quarter and keep to that schedule.  Typically, it makes sense to schedule this in the beginning of each quarter when there may be a bit less stress than at quarter-end.
  • ATTENDEES: This is a great opportunity to invite in field sales management, executives, marketing, HR, and any other cross-function who could add value and appreciate the chance to hear the results and plans of each inside rep.  It’s can also serve as a great venue to show the value of inside sales and their level of professionalism, while education those who don’t really know what inside sales does.
  • FORMAT: As a general rule, I like to allow 1 hour or even 90 minutes for a thorough review.  Typically, the rep takes the lead and reviews several areas via a PowerPoint.  Management and invited guests can both ask questions and even offer suggestions on the stated results, goals and planned activities.
  • TEMPLATE/AGENDA: Most QBR’s cover the following areas:
    1. YTD RESULTS – This is a look backwards at sales results from the past quarter and also YTD.
    2. FORECAST – This is where the rep shows their anticipated forecast for the next quarter and remainder of the year. Often times this may be backed up by a list of forecasted deals in the pipeline.  Discussion is often around these deals and what is needed to close them.
    3. GOALS & PLANNED ACTIVITY – These areas allow the rep to establish some next quarter goals and to show the specific activity that will help them to achieve these goals. NOTE here that reps should put their goals into the “SMART” format. (Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Results Oriented, and Time Bound).  So instead of saying “I will increase my close rate” which is a bit vague, state it as “Increase my close rate from 25% to 30% within the first 30 days of the quarter”.
    4. ISSUES/CHALLENGES – Here is where the rep can list any areas that presents them with challenges.  Attendees can discuss and offer ideas on overcoming them.
    5. RECOMMENDATIONS – Inside Sales Reps can make recommendations or even ask for certain things.  An example of this might be where a rep asks for additional product training or perhaps funding to attend a specific trade event.
  • KEEP IT FUN & EDUCATIONAL: Over the years some QBR’s have turned into a session where managers “turn up the heat” and put reps under a microscope to show others that they are pushing their team to stretch and not miss hitting their numbers.  This type of demeanor is better suited for private one-on-one meetings where managers can discuss specific performance issues.  Rather, use QBR’s to help reps identify areas that need attention, to offer assistance as appropriate, and to learn from the collective experiences of all the other attendees.

I highly recommend making QBR’s standard practice for most inside selling models.  QBR’s are a great way to keep the pulse on the team, to drill deep into pipeline activity and forecasts, to learn new ideas and activities from others, to showcase the team, and to hold the reps accountable for managing their own territory and business.

Until next time… good selling and good leading!

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