Running Sales QBRs that maximise the success of the entire organisation.

How to run a QBR that people genuinely want to attend

Running Sales QBRs that maximise the success of the entire organisation.


  1. Aim to run your QBR in the first few weeks of each quarter
  2. Make them fun and informative for everyone involved
  3. There are some mandatory elements, but give reps and managers the flexibility to add additional insights
  4. Extend invites to Marketing, Customer Success, Finance and Product

Jennifer Bers is a Notion GTM Expert with more than 20 years experience leading sales teams for innovative, fast-scaling SaaS organisations. She supports Notion portfolio companies to create and grow high performing sales teams, with an emphasis on empowering leaders and reps with coaching, feedback, training and leading by example.

The “dreaded” QBR

For sales-led organisations, a rite of passage from finding product-market fit, to moving more into go-to-market fit and scaling, is the internal Quarterly Business Review (QBR)or, as some think, the “dreaded” QBR; the way most QBRs are run, I don’t blame them.

As you can guess from the list below, I’m a firm believer in making QBRs less about just another pipeline review, and more about what is often talked about but rarely put into action: the notion that each territory is essentially a business with the rep being responsible for truly ‘owning’ that business.

What QBRs are not:

  • A chance to bash sales reps and spend time berating them.
  • Exclusively for the sales team to present to sales management and each other.
  • A one-way conversation that’s essentially a longer pipeline review.
  • Something to listen to on Zoom in the background while you’re doing something else.

What a great QBR should be:

  • A safe space for all to have candid and honest conversations about the health and requirements of a territory.
  • A chance to pressure test the health of that territory.
  • Verifying that the ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is correct, and that people aren’t getting entangled in non-ICP deals that will never close. Or worse, non-ICP deals that will close, but will be bad for the company.
  • Validating if the sales messaging is working and if not, taking the opportunity to change it.
  • Reps defending their pipeline account by account, articulating the who, what, when and where of each deal, holding up to deeper questioning. 
  • Understanding if the pipeline is real or perhaps inflated with wishful thinking.
  • A way for Marketing to understand the key accounts that are being targeted so they can be fully aligned for forward planning.
  • The ability for Customer Success to hear in depth which key deals are likely to close, where they might be able to step in to help and how to plan for incoming clients’ needs and expectations.
  • A genuine discussion about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the people on the ground are facing to allow the Exec Team to plan for, and strategise accordingly.
  • A validation to Product that deals are moving forward, or a warning of what’s missing that might be slowing down contracts closing, and a chance to have wider discussions with the feet on the street. 
  • An opportunity for Finance to hear about incoming business, and to think about how to get creative way in advance, if needed, rather than when it be too late.
"For me, QBRs are golden and sacrosanct. I think of sales leaders and sales people at every level as franchise owners and as such the QBR is the ideal opportunity for them to share three things:
  1. Their performance from the last quarter - what worked and what didn't;
  2. Their plan for their franchise for the coming quarter in terms of demand, pipeline and quota carrying capacity;  
  3. What's holding them back, for example friction, lack of quality leads, lack of rep enablement, whatever it might be.
No excuses. Every sales leader needs to present in every QBR". Jimmy Fitzgerald, Chief Operating Officer, Paddle

A chance to shine

Let’s break down what a great QBR looks like; I genuinely want it to be a chance for people to shine. Templates are given out early, though I also know that most reps (at least for the first time) will do it a night or two before. But if you show that you’re really paying attention and ask great questions it will encourage deeper thought and analysis for the next time and you’ll soon see who has a really strong handle on their territory and has obviously put some deeper thought into the presentation. You’ll have a strong view as to what will happen this quarter, what to expect the following and how to adjust now for what might be headwinds coming a few quarters away.

“QBR’s are an invaluable mechanism to take stock and get everybody focussed. The key is not to do a read out but to use the time to solve problems,” Nick Shaw, Chief Revenue Officer, Brightpearl.

I’d advise putting together a template, with the caveat that, if there is anything additional the rep wants to add, they should be encouraged to do so. It’s so interesting to see what else is brought up, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of thought and planning that some reps put into their presentations. Here’s a few sections you should consider for your template.

The QBR Template

  1. Previous Quarter Review:

I always start with a brief look back for context to previous quarter: 

  • How did they perform to quota;
  • Which were the key deals won, what slipped and what did we lose 
  • How much self prospecting did they do vs what was brought in by the SDR outbound or inbound thanks to Marketing?  
  • What’s one thing the rep is particularly proud of? 
  • And what’s one thing they wish they did better or differently?
  1. Pipeline:

Now let’s look ahead.  

  • What are the key deals? Not just for this quarter, but the next quarter and also visibility through the rest of the year.   
  • Where are these in the pipeline and are there any outliers that may need special attention?  
  • Which of these deals was a slipped deal?  

This is a chance for the rep to give a professional commitment on what will come in this quarter. It’s also a chance for management to ask the right probing questions to validate if these are real, where the company can align to help provide additional support, and to give a view of where the quarter will land. It’s also a way to understand how sophisticated and thorough the reps are in working their priority deals. When an AE talks about an advanced deal, they should have a thorough grasp of the prospect’s budget, validation of stakeholders, agreed success criteria of any trials, multiple stakeholders involved, an agreed business case, etc.  It’s paramount that the reps can defend the deals they’re forecasting with more substance than ‘hope’ or a ‘gut feeling’.

"QBRs really help us formalise feedback and expectations giving us a more holistic outlook regarding client potential and our pipeline. Instead of losing ourselves in day-to-day operations this enables us to understand potential more holistically and align everyone on what's the next best step for the client, ultimately leading to a clearer path to upsell. Sometimes stopping and assessing enables you to run even faster". Tobias Eppler, CRO, HeyJobs.

It’s critical to also focus at least a quarter ahead; if the pipeline is extremely light for the following quarter, and you know the deal cycle is more than 90 days, this gives you warning that something has to happen fast. I always have a section on the next quarter ‘look forward’ and the rest of the year, so we have the full picture.

  1. Pipeline Generation:

What pipeline generation activities are the reps planning for the year? 

Hint: waiting for their SDR (Sales Development Rep) to book them meetings or just relying on inbound from Marketing isn’t really an “active strategy”.  

Who are they planning on targeting, why and how? I see lots of teams focusing on deals in the pipe but almost no focus with the AEs on what their own strategy and priority is for generating pipeline. 

Pipeline generation must be a constant focus–pipeline is oxygen, pipeline makes you less desperate and pipeline ensures a much higher chance of hitting numbers.  This needs to be its own section.

  1. Marketing Alignment:

Is there anything they’d like to work with Marketing on, whether it be this quarter or in the near future?

  • What can they do to help increase visibility in their territory and drive more leads?  
  • Is there a particular ABM campaign they could run? 
  • Could they target executives on LinkedIn through content or ads in accounts that are prioritised or in later stages of the deal cycle?  

The best performing organisations have extremely strong alignment between Marketing and Sales, with common goals. There’s no point in having thousands of MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) if they’re not the right ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) or they’re not going to close. 

Similarly, you’ll find poor outcomes when AEs 1) don’t communicate with Marketing about the accounts they are prioritising 2) share the success when a great lead comes in and closes, and 3) don’t give feedback as to why certain leads are good or bad.

  1. Partner Strategy:

What is their strategy for working with Partners (if applicable)?  

  • Are there any accounts they are struggling to get into that perhaps a partner has a great relationship with?  
  • Who are the key partners that are active in this territory, and how are we aligned?  

A company that has a well run partner programme, which is a difficult and enormous undertaking when done correctly, essentially expands their salesforce and influence by multiples. For startups this can be a challenge to properly run and gain share of thought in the partner, but once a company has traction and great case studies it’s often an extremely beneficial additive to the team. This probably warrants a whole separate blog post, on what a great partner programme looks like and how it runs.

  1. SWOT:

What are the territory’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats?  

These are often misjudged: 

  • Strengths and Weaknesses are internal to the company.  
  • Opportunities and Threats are macro; they’re market conditions, competitive, economic.  

A really strong sales rep is always looking for what’s impacting the territory and adjusting their pitch and discussions accordingly. A QBR is a great place to discuss with a wider audience and have the back and forth as to how to take advantage of Strengths and Opportunities and how to mitigate Weaknesses and Threats. I always ask my reps to have a mitigation slide in their deck as well; how would they plan to adjust or combat these negatives.

  1. Overall Territory Plan:

It’s important to have an ongoing overview of the entire territory to ensure the ICP accounts are actually being worked and not just hoarded. There are lots of templates out there for this, but it does not need to be complicated.

  • What does the territory look like overall?  
  • Is there a lot of whitespace where our company hasn’t done any business?  
  • Is it mostly the case where it’s expansion within the territory? 
  • Who are the key competitors that are strongest here?  
  • For my Priority A, B, C accounts, do I genuinely know what’s happening in them and have I contacted or tried to contact them? 
  • Or are they untouched?  
“I’ve been through great QBRs and pretty worthless QBRs in my time in sales. For me, the most effective are rooted in honesty, collaboration and being data-driven.  They’re not about ‘thumping your chest’. They’re not about saying what someone else wants to hear.  They’re about using the collective wisdom of the attendees to put you on a better path than you would have been without them.” - Nils Marchand, SVP Sales, SecureLink

Wrapping it up

There are a lot of topics to cover in a QBR, and hopefully this guide will help you create a template that’s right for your business. I’d advise getting these scheduled in weeks 2 or 3 of the new quarter, so there’s plenty of time to manoeuvre afterwards as a result and diaries can be blocked.

Have some fun with these as well! I always start with a pretty robust sugar hit for everyone and ensure that throughout the - often long - day, the team is well fed. QBRs often can be an intense experience. But when they’re run as a way to genuinely share where the rep is and with the ability to reflect honestly and receive advice, feedback and validation of the pipeline and territory, you’ll find enormous benefits across the whole business and a more aligned team overall.

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