“Business Reviews” typically occur quarterly or semi-annually. They can be defined as a meeting with your client to discuss their business and how you can better support them. What a fantastic opportunity for any service provider, right? Nope. These two little words, “Business Reviews,” trigger sweaty palms for many client-facing services and delivery professionals. But why?
I find many Program or Account Managers in Talent Acquisition don’t truly understand the value a “business review” brings to a partnership. Anyone managing client partnerships understands the need for Business Reviews with client stakeholders. I emphasize the word “need” because these reviews represent critical relationship-building opportunities. Think about it. A “Business Review” is your opportunity to highlight your product or services’ ROI, creating a chance to reinforce the value your firm delivers. A “Business Review” lets you structure an open, candid conversation about your customer’s health, challenges, and opportunities. And a “Business Review” allows the provider to showcase its services and its strategic competitive advantage over rival providers. “Business Reviews” also create a platform for your customers to give you valuable feedback on your product, service, and team. Ultimately, QBRs help you move your customer in the direction most beneficial to them—which is also likely to be a direction that’s beneficial to you, the provider. After all, if your customer isn’t experiencing positive results with your product or service, there’s a good chance they’ll leave you behind eventually anyway.
I’ll confess, in the early days of my career, “Business Reviews” were highly nerve-wracking for me. In preparation for the meeting, I’d pour over hundreds or thousands of data points in an attempt to be ready for ANY possible question. I’d build a PowerPoint presentation laying out table after table and graph after graph in granular detail. Time permitting, I’d try to memorize all the data, although I’m not sure why. After all, I created an endless array of tables, charts, and graphs and dropped them all into a colossal PowerPoint slide deck. It would all be there on the screen in front of me as I braced for impact: Total Spend, Cost-Per-Hire, Time-To-Fill, Time-To -Source, Retention Rate, Voice of Customer Scores, and more.
Then, with my trusty slide deck in hand, I’d hop on a WebEx or into a conference room and spend an hour or two with a roomful of people, most of whom pretended to care about what I presented or, occasionally, didn’t even hide the fact that that they didn’t care. Slide after slide of black and white numbers. After completing my presentation, I’d shake hands and exchange pleasantries before saying, “see ‘ya in next quarter.” If I left the conference room feeling unscathed, I’d breathe a sigh of relief, “whew!”
I was uneasy with “business reviews” early in my career because I didn’t understand why these meetings were essential. Instead of approaching “Business Reviews” as an opportunity to showcase the assistance we provided and the value we created through our services, I saw them as an opportunity to be raked over the coals. Thankfully, over time, experience, and using great feedback offered by my managers and clients, I learned, and my mindset dramatically changed.
If I’m meeting with clients who want to know how our partnership is operating, a data dump will not get it done. Of course, data such as contract KPIs previously mentioned need to be part of the discussion, but data shouldn’t be THE discussion. After all, as a provider, if I’m going to enhance and build a client relationship, I have to share more than data. I have to provide actionable insights. And actionable insights come from meticulous data analysis that identifies a problem’s root causes and from leveraging my expert experience as a provider to develop new and better solutions. Is there a better opportunity to do this than in a “Business Review”?
Of course, it’s imperative to communicate all this effectively. After all, it’s not often you get all your key client stakeholders in one room with an opportunity to reinforce their decision to hire you. Effective communication that strengthens relationships doesn’t come through presentations of endless data tables and charts. It comes through storytelling–by using real anecdotes, names, and events that yielded the data in the first place. I offer market insights from past and current experience, other clients’ experiences, and what we see client competitors doing in the market related to compensation, client branding, hiring processes improvements, and more. I’m always prepared to discuss what we learned and how it will change what we do moving forward. And whenever possible, I use the data to highlight a problem BEFORE it happens and offer proactive solutions. That’s how you build and strengthen relationships.
I want to end this article by offering a few suggestions you can use to create more effective “Business Reviews” that will help you be the expert you are and strengthen your client relationships.
- Master the data that’s driving the story and your recommend actions. “Mastering” doesn’t mean memorizing and including every single piece of data in the presentation. It means knowing which data points are the most important to have, understanding the best way to communicate them, and putting everything else in the appendix.
- Don’t present a slide deck. Tell a story. Be prepared to share insights in a compelling way that highlights the benefits your product or services delivers and communicate the value you create. Use data, but tell a story using real-world examples that allow you to showcase your expertise. Remember, because you have multiple clients, you have a broader view of the market than most clients.
- In every “Business Review,” try to bring forward at least one unexpected insight or idea that gets your clients excited about a future that includes you and your team. Bring thought-provoking ideas to them that stimulate a thoughtful discussion. It’s a great way to see how strong their appetite is for new products and services, and it positions you as a thought leader.
- Always show the ROI your clients achieve with you, and whenever possible, use industry or competitive data to benchmark off. It’s one thing to show your TTS is 5% lower this month than last. It’s quite another to show benchmark data that demonstrates you fill RN jobs 2% faster than the industry as a whole.
- Be sure to leave time for questions and comments. You want to make sure you allow the client to discuss any issues or upcoming initiatives that are especially important to them.
- And by all means, ask them for their feedback on your performance. You never want a supplier review or RFI to be a surprise to you—how often does the incumbent retain the business after a client-initiated (versus procurement-initiated) review?
Thinking differently about how you build and present “Business Reviews” enables better delivery of the content needed to assess the partnership’s state and provides a unique platform to develop and enhance client relationships. Your company is in the recruiting business, but if you are a client-facing service and delivery representative, you are in the relationship business, and both partners benefit from healthy relationships.
Timing, which was once a limiting factor in recruiting, also becomes a non-issue with AI because the technology “remembers” candidate profiles to match them with ideal positions as soon as vacancies are posted. Candidates quickly learn which employers can connect them with the opportunities that align with their capabilities. As a result, at scale and over time, AI-enabled candidate relationships become a competitive advantage and boost the company’s employer brand.