Restructuring a business to add a revenue operations function often requires revamping the quarterly business review.
In another article, we outlined why sales QBRs need an overhaul and the steps to take to run them more successfully. In this piece, I’ll run through how I manage SaaS QBRs as Head of Revenue Operations at Clari, including what we focus on that helps drive our strategic business initiatives and growth.
Let’s start with a reminder of the role of Revenue Operations.
Revenue operations delivers visibility across the entire revenue team, from marketing to sales operations to customer success. RevOps improves efficiency across the revenue process, drives revenue predictability, increases forecasting accuracy, and achieves revenue growth. We achieve this through the end-to-end business process with transparency and execution rigor.
QBRs represent a key opportunity to gain that full visibility, drive efficiency, hit critical key performance indicators, and most importantly, strategically plan for the future quarters to achieve growth. Done right, QBRs offer a key opportunity for sales plan optimization and to gain critical leadership buy-in. To get a clear picture of just how much has changed, let me show you what sales QBRs were like before having a revenue operations team in place.
QBRs before revenue operations
In the past, when I worked for companies that didn’t have a dedicated revenue operations professional or someone running point on the overall QBR strategy and objectives, QBRs were often unstructured and inefficient.
At the start of each quarter, there would be an open invitation for anyone to come hear different sales team presentations, but rarely would invitations call out specific people to attend or call out what was expected of them as a participant
Prior to the QBR sessions, each sales leader would have their team members create a presentation based upon the agenda that the sales management wanted to cover. Then each sales leader would show up to the meeting with a different format, different data points, different KPIs, and different goals.
Additionally, because we didn’t ask specific strategic stakeholders or members of the leadership team to join us or prepare them in advance, we didn’t always have the right participants who could help us meet our goals.
And it meant that we spent a lot of time reporting the news on metrics that may or may not matter, pulling up data on the fly, and looking back at past results, and not focusing on our future. Our business development suffered.
We also lacked a clear point person coordinating post-meeting follow-up. Without the type of coordinated effort an operations team brings, there are missed opportunities, and the same suggestions getting discussed quarter after quarter, without progress.
For example, say a sales rep hit an obstacle with an enterprise client and could use an executive nudge. The sales rep noticed that the chief financial officer had a connection at the target prospect and could provide an introduction. But if the CFO wasn’t invited to the quarterly meeting, or if no one tracked the request, that’s a missed opportunity that could easily have helped push a deal forward to closure.
Revenue operations changes the game
Eventually, companies start to understand the value of a revenue operations leader—one person who can run point for such meetings and ensure the framework, the agenda, the goals, the follow-up, and the asks are organized. As an operations leader, I’ve often served in this role.
At Clari, we use our own solution to drive our QBRs. We create a QBR-specific dashboard for the team in Clari with the metrics that matter and the key data attributes that are meaningful to the discussion. During the QBR, each sales leader or rep pulls up their Clari custom dashboard.
Not only do we save hours and days of pulling together data pre-QBR, we also know the numbers are real-time, up-to-date, and 100% accurate. Clari also gives us a single source of truth. Instead of different teams working off different spreadsheets or outdated slides, everyone using Clari has the same playbook.
In QBRs, with everyone on the same page before they arrive, we’re able to focus on strategy and how we drive deals forward instead of just reporting the news or wasting time looking for the right data in various revenue systems.
Here’s what we focus on at Clari.
I've sat in a lot of QBRs that focus solely on past results, like last quarter. While this conversation is necessary, it shouldn’t be the majority of the meeting. I’ve learned from experience that when we focus too much on the past, we can’t go as deep into current deals and opportunities, which is where the real growth happens.
At Clari, we quickly review what happened last quarter, but even these reviews face forward. We discuss what worked well and what didn't with an eye on what we want to change for this quarter. For example, a rep might discuss why a deal has stalled this quarter, but then also discuss how to change that dialogue for future quarters.
During our Clari QBRs, we examine pipeline coverage and open opportunities. We stay strategically focused:
- What are our top accounts to go after and what’s their status?
- What are our next steps?
- Where do we need help?
Top target accounts
We also do deep dives into our top 10 prospects. We discuss the last engagement, the current status, and next steps. We strategize how we can help progress and accelerate the deal to closure and make sure that we are addressing any potential issues or risks.
It is an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, where everyone on the revenue team helps to offer creative and new ways to help drive revenue and growth .
Strategic and tactical follow-ups
Another key responsibility of a revenue operations leader is managing the follow-up from the QBRs. For example, someone on my revops team or I take notes during our QBRs to ensure that we capture key takeaways, learnings, and any action items. From there, I assess the action items, which requires an assessment from both a strategic and tactical perspective.
For instance, on the tactical side, I might need to remind the CRO to send email introductions to colleagues at prospective firms. I can do this via a spreadsheet or a document or even through a ghost email.
On the strategic side, I consider how to make our systems and processes more efficient and effective. What can I do to help the team perform better and help address the challenges and obstacles shared during the discussions? Perhaps we need to add better metrics to the dashboard, add a new best practice to our sales process, or partner with cross-functional teams for better alignment or visibility.
At Clari—and with Clari—I can confidently say that our QBRs are the most productive I’ve been involved with. Clari’s commitment to a RevOps process, and the real-time, accurate, comprehensive data we can all see, offers transparency and drives alignment among our go-to-market teams every day.
As a result, when we walk into a QBR, we’re already on the same page. We have visibility across all aspects of our business, for next quarter and beyond. And that means we can focus on strategy and achieving revenue predictability and growth.