A common aspiration of Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) and IT Solution Providers is that they want to be seen by their clients not so much as the “IT Guy”, but more of a “Trusted Business Advisor”. Someone a client can approach not just to fix the computers, but as someone they actively involve in their business plans.
One of the most effective methods towards this goal is the Quarterly Business Review (or QBR).
A Quarterly Business Review is, as the name suggests, a meeting with your client on a quarterly basis where you discuss their business and how you can support them. The meeting is not to talk about outstanding Helpdesk tickets, upcoming projects or other issues, it's to talk about your client's business. To understand what is on their horizon, where they want their business to go and how you can help them.
It also helps educate you to the client's long-term plans, how they see their business going for better, and for worse, and giving you the opportunity to help them plan for that.
By showing an interest and learning about your clients business, you’ll be taking a huge step towards becoming that Trusted Business Advisor.
Although not the goal, invariably the meeting will uncover sales opportunities.
For example, if the client is projecting a good quarter where they will be taking on two new employees – you can speak to that client about the computers, software and licenses that they will need. Often the client hasn’t even considered these things. This helps educate them that IT requires a planned budget.
You can also remind the client of the amount of lead time you’ll need to help them. This helps educate your client of the sufficient notice you require to bring a new employee on-board. It also helps reduce those Monday morning phone calls from your client to your Helpdesk where the simple admin task of adding a new user and sourcing and setting up a new PC becomes an ultra urgent task.
Longer term, you can use reports – like those created in your SolarWinds® MSP Remote Monitoring and Management dashboard – to help the client understand usage trends and to budget for their IT requirements.
If the client is consistently adding two new employees a month, and their server is already consistently running at 70% CPU and 80% capacity of Hard Disk Space – you can use the report to demonstrate in cold, hard numbers that the clients server will soon need upgrading.
You aren’t looking to get that new server signed off at the meeting, but you are helping bring this onto your client's priority lists. At this point you’re not selling anything, you’re simply helping them solve a very understandable problem.
The QBR is also a great opportunity to scout out opportunities for your Strategic Alliance partners (a topic discussed in this blog post “Why Building Strategic Alliances can help your MSP business”).
Perhaps your client shares with you that they could do with more leads as their sales pipeline is growing dry. You can ask them questions on how their website is performing for lead generation, and what level of leads they’d like for it to deliver.
An introduction to your Web Design or SEO Strategic Alliance Partner complete with this information does two things: it makes you a hero to your Strategic Alliance Partner by passing across a truly qualified referral lead; and, it solidifies your reputation with your client as someone who is actively looking to help their business even when it doesn’t mean business for you.
Whatever form your QBR takes, you must undertake them regularly and consistently. Setting a recurring ticket in your PSA, or a recurring reminder in your calendar to schedule a QBR with each client is one way to make sure you’re doing this.
Pretty soon, the regular QBR becomes seen as a real value-add to your client, and is a huge step for you to be seen as their Trusted Business Advisor.
As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSP’s to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts.
Some people also refer to the QBR as a Quarterly Roadmap Meeting, check out Karl Palachuk's article here for yet more insight and advice.