• Revenue Operations Sales Execution

6 Ways to Uplevel Your Next Virtual QBR

Laura Quiambao

Laura Quiambao
Content Marketing, Clari

6 Ways to Uplevel Your Next Virtual QBR

This year, separated by screens and limited to virtual meetings, quarterly business reviews risk losing much of the context gained by working in an office together. QBRs are already tough. They’re often difficult for sales reps to get the data they need, much less present it in a meaningful way.

And how do you get everyone to follow a consistent process across regions to make digesting that data easier on attendees? Context is the glue that binds revenue teams, helping them drive predictable results together.

But with teams so dispersed, staying on the same page with an efficient remote sales QBR is more critical than ever. These tips may help you facilitate a more engaging, accurate, and fruitful virtual QBR.

What is a QBR?

QBRs are a critical moment in the quarterly sales cadence to align your entire revenue team towards your shared revenue goals. By taking a collective, deep look at the past quarter and evaluating overall team performance and key sales metrics, teams can learn valuable lessons and level up their sales execution for the next quarter.

Start each rep’s session by assessing what worked last quarter, what didn’t, and what sales forecasting shows for the upcoming quarter. Then, make requests of leadership and other departments for steps they can take to support your efforts, so everyone leaves the meeting with an effective, predictable go-to-market plan.

1. Determine the QBR flow first

Facilitating a QBR where all reps report consistent information in a cohesive way is challenging enough under normal circumstances. With customer success and sales teams working from home, leaders need to build a clear structure to ensure that everyone is aligned on what they need to report. Before you ask reps to gather their data, decide how you want the QBR presentation to flow and what key performance indicators you want to measure.

  • What questions do you want answered?
  • What insights do you want shared with the revenue team?
  • What outcomes are you looking for?

Some teams run a retrospective QBR, while others are almost entirely forward looking. Consider how much time you want to spend on either side of this spectrum, and allot space in each QBR presentation accordingly.

This pre-work ensures meetings run predictably so attendees can easily follow along and collaborate strategically. In our ebook, How The Best Sales Managers Run Their QBRs, we share the three questions that set the foundation for reps to build their QBRs:

  1. What happened, and why? Understand the past quarter’s performance. Why did we close our winning deals? Why did we lose or push deals we thought would close won?
  2. Can we win? Pressure test the quarter’s pipeline health. What’s the pipeline coverage (pipeline divided by quota)? Do you have the right mix of high-probability small and medium deals versus lower-probability elephants?
  3. How will we win? What is the quarterly commit and how will reps achieve it? Pressure-test the commit deals for sufficient activity and prospect responsiveness. Create actionable takeaways for other revenue teams to help reps.

These questions are fundamental for us at Clari. You don’t need technology to ask them. However, the right tools and advanced analytics provide game-changing answers, faster.

2. Engage everyone, early

Sure, working from home means no commute, but many sales reps have fewer hours in the day as they try to sell in our unstable economy and are inundated by calls and meetings.

Clari’s Impact of COVID-19 Survey found that prospect meetings increased by 14%, and the number of emails increased by 16%. Meanwhile, the response rate dipped by 8%. This means reps are spending more time trying to engage prospects and push deals forward. Therefore, managing a remote sales team through the QBR process is going to look different than before and require more, clear structure.

Most sales teams want to present their performance in the best light, even if that means handpicking some key performance indicators and avoiding others. But with a remote and uncertain environment due to the pandemic, cherry-picking doesn’t make for an impactful QBR. Leaders need full visibility, even if the picture isn’t pretty. Standardization is the key to helping your team achieve that.

Anthony Cessario, Clari’s Vice President of Enterprise Sales, has presenters treat QBRs like a board meeting, sending out their content and asks of the team at least 24 hours in advance via email.

“QBRs are best when everyone who attends is an active participant,” Cessario says. “This allows key stakeholders to review the content and come prepared to engage. We keep the data presented visual and impactful. For example, we have every rep use Clari widgets to pull where they are spending their time as well as the top ten deals they are working on.”

For example, reps in Clari can see which accounts they have spent the most time and energy prospecting into, by seeing their activity in aggregate. Clari automatically tracks sales activity data, like emails and meetings, so reps don’t have to waste time adding that data into CRM. Instead, it is automatically captured and displayed here for the rep and relevant sales leaders to easily understand.

Additionally, revenue teams in Clari can use this Top Deals Widget to get a snapshot of the most important opportunities for the quarter. During the QBR, a rep can easily help their remote team members understand which deals are on track and which are at risk.

For example, Data Storage, the largest deal, doesn’t have a next meeting scheduled. In addition, the deal’s AI-Driven Opportunity Score, an AI-generated numerical value determining the likelihood to close based on historical deal data, is at 79, which means revenue leadership might want to spend more time focusing on de-risking this deal.

Having reps prepare an email before the meeting ensures all reps can answer the same questions. They can’t hide areas that may need improvement behind complex data. If there is tough information to share, doing so by email is like dipping a toe in the water before jumping in. Reps can process the data versus having to share it for the first time in front of a live audience. And because they have to face the same data, it forces them to invite everyone to help find real solutions to their biggest challenges.

3. Focus on engagement throughout the QBR

A QBR may mean serious business, but you can add fun, non-QBR related activities to boost engagement—which is even more critical while attending day-long meetings from home. Bonus if they are competitive.

Even in person, all day meetings can take a toll. In order to keep attendees engaged, you need to find ways to change the energy before and during the meeting. By shifting gears from the business presentation into something more social, you give attendees the chance to digest the information they have received and refresh their minds for more.

Maya Parmer Connet, Clari’s Enterprise Revenue Director, shakes up QBRs in three ways:

  • A brainstorming exercise at the start to get creative juices flowing and inspire a higher level of energy entering the QBR. We love to use the annotation feature on Zoom to invite folks to draw or input shapes onto the presentation. Giving them a hands-on way to virtually engage with the presentation.
  • A getting-to-know-you game where a rep shares different interests and facts about themselves. This helps everyone feel more comfortable and connected, especially when they are physically apart. We will add fun pictures to slides or challenge presenters to start that part of the presentation with a unique Zoom background.
  • A “Jeopardy”-style trivia game to educate everyone across a variety of categories—product, deal desk best practices, competitors—and entice participants to engage, giving them a chance to shine. We use free tools or PowerPoint to visualize the trivia, which helps attendees feel more immersed in the game. It’s an effective way to bookend each presentation and re-energize the attendees.

For his QBRs, Cessario adds that he likes to directly speak to attendees, posing thoughtful questions to the digital room.

“We may ask fun questions like: ‘What do you like about QBRs? What do you loathe about QBRs? What’s most important for you to get out of today?’,” he says. “This line of questioning not only gets folks engaged, it helps us tailor the QBR to ensure they stay engaged by providing the information they want.”

4. Create data visualizations to help attendees digest information

To say it’s challenging to keep attendees engaged during an all day sales meeting, like your virtual QBR, is an understatement. Staying focused requires a huge amount of brain power. Adding PowerPoint slides with spreadsheets full of numbers makes it more likely that people will zone out or toggle to their own work—and is a ton of work for your sellers leading up to the meeting.

Complex spreadsheets, for example, often only make sense to the person that created them. This is where a tool like Clari can be helpful. With a revenue operations solution like Clari, you can visually answer questions at a glance and create uniformity across reps and regions without spreadsheets and virtually no additional work.

Here is a screen shot of Clari’s Opportunity Grid, where you can see every deal in the quarter currently in flight. At a glance, revenue leaders on their remote QBR can glean a few key pieces of data:

  1. Has the deal changed? Cells automatically highlight in green if the change is beneficial, like a deal size increase, and change to red if the change is negative. In this case, the Americas Expansion deal size has decreased (red), but the close date was pulled in (green).
  2. How is this deal tracking compared to other deals that have historically behaved the same way? The Opportunity Score we previously mentioned is an AI-driven numerical value identifying the health of the deal. Americas Expansion is showing a 93, which is healthy.
  3. How much activity is there between our team and theirs? Clari automatically captures sales activity data from rep email, calendar and sales engagement tools so reps and leaders can see every touchpoint throughout a sales cycle. In the right hand panel, each color represents a different communication channel (email, meetings, files sent, Marketo).

Visualizing the data in a way that is standardized and universally appealing empowers presenters to show, not tell, what’s going on in their territories. You help attendees shift their brain power from trying to understand the data to being able to engage in a deeper, strategic conversation. It’s also a signal to revenue leaders which deals are healthy and may need less attention throughout the quarter, and which may be at risk and could use more resources to close. The QBR is the perfect opportunity to identify those risks and make those asks.

5. Ensure your data is ready for prime time

If prepping for your virtual sales QBR means manually cobbling together stale data from spreadsheets and building out the slide deck, you’re doing more than just wasting your time.

QBRs are a live conversation analyzing what is happening in a sales territory in real time. Sales reps need real-time data that is easy to pull up in order to run a smooth QBR meeting. Without real-time data at their fingertips, presenters and attendees can’t have an accurate read of the past, present, or future quarters. You risk falling into one of these three traps:

  1. You’ll spend your time reporting the news instead of setting up win strategies.
  2. You’ll embark on a tangent trying to figure out the answers to unexpected questions.
  3. You’ll move from data driven conversations towards emotional ones that cloud conversation.

So how can you avoid these traps?

This is where your tech stack can help. As we’ve mentioned, Clari automatically tracks sales and marketing activity like emails, meetings, and files exchanged between reps and prospects. If a rep presents within the Clari dashboard, everyone can easily see every customer touch.

If an attendee does ask a tough question, the rep can quickly check Clari and answer the question.

As for emotional conversations, these are the struggles, mistakes, and shortfalls that many people have a hard time articulating. Data helps team members take a step back and redirect the conversation.

“Discussing problematic scenarios in a non-combative way, with data to support your points can help sales team members move uncomfortable conversations into productive ones,” says Connet. “You can reframe these discussions as lessons learned, so everyone can benefit. Review the actions or circumstances that contributed to the win or loss so team members can apply those lessons in their own work.”

Solutions like Clari provide that real-time visibility into accurate deal data, which makes it easy for sales reps and key stakeholders to focus on the data when providing constructive feedback and find specific ways to highlight wins.

6. Take COVID-19 into account for forecasting

Forecasting is a challenge even in non-pandemic times—especially if you don’t have all the data points in front of you, easily accessible. That’s why Kenna Valdez, Clari’s Customer Education and Enablement Specialist, recently led a workshop to help Clari customers build their QBR dashboard with COVID-19 related challenges in mind.

“We recommend that over the next year, companies create a COVID-19 risk report, not just for QBRs, but also for one-on-one check-ins throughout the quarter to easily keep a pulse on risk,” Valdez says. “For a QBR, a COVID-19 risk report helps identify which opportunities are in a headwind versus tailwind due to the pandemic. Having this added context helps the entire revenue team align on how they can push at-risk deals forward as a team. It’s helpful in renewals, too, to help forecast which customers might need more attention—not because they are unhappy, but because their budgets are impacted by the pandemic.”

Clari pulls this data in to help you visualize all of this for the QBR.

Elevate Virtual QBRs with Clari Dashboards

Right now, QBRs are one of the most important moments during a quarter for the entire revenue team to align on upcoming goals and gain the context they need to drive incredible revenue growth. However, just because they are more important than ever doesn’t mean they are easier—especially as a virtual meeting.

Clari alleviates much of that pain and manual presentation prep.

Clari offers a data-driven deal and account level inspection in the context of your most important revenue cadences so you have a full picture of your business, have confidence in your number, and have a clear line of sight into hitting your quota. Our sales leaders and reps use Clari’s dashboard to standardize our QBRs, and drive meaningful conversations with insights and metrics from real-time data.

Looking for more information about preparing an effective and efficient QBR? Check out our other blogs:

Ready to uplevel your next QBR? Request a demo of Clari today to see how our dashboard can make QBRs more impactful.

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