I recently attended a sales training meeting at my company where the point of discussion centered on “QBRs” or quarterly business reviews. Conducting a quarterly or annual review is critical to the ongoing development of a customer partnership, but the content must be relevant and important to the audience. The concerns with our sales teams centered around who should be at these reviews-both on the client side and our side. On the client side, certainly they wanted the C-suite leaders to attend, but that’s not always achievable. And the agenda of the meeting varies, depending on who attends.

A quarterly or annual business review can be an effective tool for growing and upselling your business, but it must be an authentic and strategic conversation with the client to be effective. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we are sharing these key questions from Small Business BC to ask your clients during your next business review.

1. Describe a great supplier relationship. No one enjoys being put on the spot, so if your first question is, “What do you think about me as your promotional consultant?” you will make your client uncomfortable and will be less likely to get an honest response. Instead, open by asking about their ideal consultant. They’ll likely relax and provide a few key points to consider for your offering. If they give generic answers like “I like good communication” or “I want the lowest prices,” ask them to think of their favorite supplier and draw out what it is that is so great. Questions like, “How quickly do they respond?,” “Do they phone or email?” and “How were problems handled?” will help you get the information you’re looking for.

2. Tell me about a supplier relationship that isn’t working. As important as knowing what promotional consultants are doing right is finding out where they’re letting their clients down. Again, you want to put them at ease by asking about their relationships generally, not their relationship with you specifically. However, if a client starts talking about your offerings, you must listen and allow them to vent.

3. What are the company’s goals for the next few years? Ask open-ended questions about the importance and urgency of these goals. For example, are they planning to double sales? Are they introducing a new service? Are these short or long-term plans? Once you have explored the company’s direction, ask about their vision of their consultants’ part in accomplishing it.

4. What challenges do you anticipate along the way? This is the other side of the goals. What will it cost to achieve them in terms of time, money or personnel? Probe using open-ended questions to understand their direction.

5. Here’s what others are doing successfully. This is when you get to talk. Avoid telling them what they should do and suggest to them what they could do. Refer to a third party to explain what other companies are doing and how your solutions can move them in a strategic direction.

Try these questions at your next meeting to build effective dialog that grows your partnership.

Source: Small Business BC is British Columbia’s premiere resource center for knowledge-based business products and services. It provides entrepreneurs with products and services that will assist their successful entry into small-business ventures. They also provide products and services that assist in development and growth, improve productivity and profitability and enable businesses to take advantage of new opportunities.