There are many tools and best practices out there to streamline, and automate technology conversations with RMM integration, ticket reports and asset management functions. The reason is that as most MSPs by starting their QBR processes they simply try to run faster to the wrong direction. The common mistake we see is they try to streamline a technology focused tactical conversation (important for them) rather than elevate themselves with strategic-business focused QBRs (important for clients). Let’s see the 3 reasons why it is the case, 3 impacts taxing these MSPs and the 3 steps to fix this quickly.

 

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If you are one of the fast developing MSPs this is totally normal to have tech conversations with clients first then move up to the executive level for business conversations. Staying on the “tech” level though raises many issues on the long run that leads to less profitability, lack of differentiation and competitive price pressure. Let’s check how to fix it with better QBRs.

 

3 Reasons

Wrong Process

Most of the Quarterly Business Reviews has not been developed from a strategic standpoint proactively. They started after losing a client or based on a negative client feedback. The team realized some sort of “regular meetings” needs to be taken place. That means the process usually ad-hoc, rushed and developed “by implementing a tool”. The main success criteriums of any account management process are missing and very immature. Implementing a tool gives a hope of structure.

As the MSP mature the development process shifts from ad-hoc to proactive.

 

Wrong Focus

As the QBR process starts shaping the most obvious conversation points are determined by the issues the team faced. Warranties were not discussed with a client, the client developed a technology debt or simply the client did not see the value and activities from the client. Therefore the to satisfy the audience reports are generated to so

lve those technology related issues with technology focused conversations.

As the MSP mature the focus is shifting from technology focus to business focus

 

Wrong Audience

Most MSPs are starting these conversations with the point of contacts to resolve the technology related issues. These point of contacts are usually office managers, power users or financial people. Their main focus is mainly tactical, not strategic. They are looking for solving day-to-day issues like replacing a computer of an employee. This is good for a start however elevating the conversation from tactical to business the audience needs to be different.

As the MSP mature the focus is shifting from tactical to strategic approach.

 

3 Negative Impacts that Taxing you

Stuck in a “tech box”

One major impact of not developing QBRs is to stuck in the “tech box”. That means simply that the client sees the MSP is a very good technical vendor rather than a business partner. Technical vendors are less strategic to a client therefore easier to negotiate or replace them in a long run. Becoming a high-value business partner is not a soft “feeling”, it does not mean that 5 star reviews and recommendations are putting an MSP to this spot. This means that the executives of the clients are constantly engaging the MSP with strategic business questions and consultation.

As the MSP mature it is perceived from client executives as high-value business partners

 

Perceived Salesy

The main issue we are seeing when we help an MSP to further develop their QBR is they feel the process is salesy. Showing the clients budget reports, bombs, warranty issues, subscriptions are teaching the client quickly is a QBR means spend more money. That connotation makes the MSP hard to actually solve those tech issues as they have no business context around those. Yes the MSP is a victim of the circumstances as without the client investing on technology they cannot really provide value. The MSP should generate a strategic layer on top of the QBRs to avoid the constant “sales” conversations.

As the MSP mature the QBRs are more touchpoints of the strategy execution

 

Perceived less engaging

After the first few QBRs the topics are settled and all around technology metrics and customer satisfaction and so on. Even if a client executive were involved on the QBRs they learn quickly that this is now on track and the second in command can handle these “boring” meetings. As the executives are detached from the opportunity to elevate the conversation has already gone. As the executives are not present most of the QBR stuck in the technology-tactical conversation which forces the MSP to “make it more streamlined”. This is where they implement more and more automation to actually get further from their goal is to actually engage executives.

As the MSP mature the QBRs have topics for engaging multiple audiences in the same time

 

3 Steps to fix

Identify the client roles

Use the MSPL’s 4 quadrant formula to determine the different roles to separate tactical / strategic and technology / business conversations. As you identify the CEO / Business vCIO roles you can map those roles to each clients and find who should be engaged with business conversations. You need to be able to sit down with the MOST senior executive at least once a year to get her perspective of their goals and to demonstrate your strategic value to them. Identifying those target individuals are the first step.

As the MSP mature the QBRs are engaging more senior people on the organizations

 

Map your talking points to roles

Use the QBR Kit #1 to identify all the talking points the different roles you have. Keep going with your tactical/technical conversations with the office managers and power users but make sure you create a new narrative with the executives. Use Kit #2 which has all the power questions you need to engage an executive and generate a strategic agenda outside of a QBR. This can be called a Strategy Meeting or Digital Transformation Annual Review. Anything related to a higher business level conversation. Create a scoring/audit mechanism to measure the different tactical elements of their business such as Security / Infrastructure / Office 365 / Applications and so on separately. These are separate audits you conduct in order to present all of this at once as a “Master Score” so they cannot see the details only the very high level.

As the MSP mature the high level strategic conversations are getting measurable

 

Run multiple layers

As you have a number / score for their strategy / digital transformation you are able to claim a spot for an Annual Strategy meeting in their agenda. As the context is their business and technology you have all the talking points making technology decisions in a business context. This high level conversation / report and deliverable is the single most important leverage you have to make all QBRs effective, decisions made and engage both the executives and the critical contact persons.

As the MSP mature the QBRs are becoming the execution of the Annual Strategies

 

Conclusion

Starting a QBR process is always ad-hoc tactical and technology focused. However you have a choice how to go to the next level. Once choice is to automate a wrong discussion and create a process which generates less engagement, price pressure and lack of differentiation. OR you develop a business conversation which elevates your discussion, connects to the key decision makers and helps you stand out from the crowd.

 

Do you engage the proper people from your client’s organization?

DowNload our Strategic QBR Client Mapping Tool 

 

Denes Purnhauser

Written by Denes Purnhauser

Denes has grown his MSP from a 5-persons staff to a 20-persons staff in less than a year by implementing business problem focused sales processes with vCIOs. As a result, he has transformed the client engagement processes for hundreds of MSPs.