5 Ways to Make Your Quarterly Sales Review Meetings Memorable

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“Alice runs the very best (and most fun) Quarterly Business Reviews,” a member of my sales team wrote as part of a pitch to someone we’re trying to recruit. Reading that was a proud moment for me.

Too often sales leaders think of Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) as meetings to get through as fast as possible so people can get back to what they were hired to do: sell. For me, QBRs are a sales leader’s best chance to showcase and celebrate each team member’s individual and joint successes, set a clear vision for the future and build a team culture.

A 2013 study from Gallup of 230,000 people across 142 countries reported that 87% of survey respondents globally and 70% in the US had “high dissatisfaction” with the work they do. Why are we adding to this with terrible sales meetings quarter after quarter?

What not to do

One of the worst quarterly business meetings I ever attended happened early in my career. The sales team members flew to Atlanta, where our manager was based. We arrived at 9 a.m. and met without a break until 5 p.m. around a table in a stuffy, windowless conference room in a hotel. With the lights turned down, one after another we put up our slides and our manager drilled us on our numbers. Then we flew home. It’s easy to guess how I felt – depressed and unmotivated.

Over my 20 years in sales, reporting to managers and having team members report to me, I’ve found five key elements to hosting a successful and memorable QBR.

1. Find the right space

Often the easiest to control and most overlooked element of a great QBR is the physical environment. My team’s favorite location is the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort in Incline Village. We meet in spacious rooms with mountain and lake views. Breakfast and lunch are served poolside and dinners lakeside. Fortunately, you don’t have to spring for a five-star hotel to find a team-friendly space.

  • Look for a room with windows and easy access to the outdoors for stretch breaks.
  • Avoid rooms set up with a podium and forward-facing audience seats. I prefer a u-shape set up where everyone can see each others face. Ideally, choose a space where you can gather with everyone or break into small groups.
  • Make sure the space accommodates your technical requirements, for example, that it has a screen, Wi-Fi, and a high-quality audio for anyone calling in.

 2. Get personal

We kick off every QBR with an icebreaker that gives team members a chance to get to know their peers and their managers on a more personal level. Skip the round-robin where everyone shares “one thing we don’t know about you.” Instead pick something specific like asking everyone to relate a (short) travel nightmare, recommend a favorite destination or describe a dream vacation. This exchange builds camaraderie, which in turn encourages collaboration.

3. Introduce some competition

Salespeople tend to thrive on competition, so build in team exercises that let that spirit come out. We’ve held sports Olympics, scavenger hunts, and Karaoke nights. At Incline Village, all 50 of us (sales, professional services, solutions architects and management) took a bus to the Truckee River where we split up into groups of 10. Each took a boat equipped with water guns as well as paddles. We scrambled not-so-gracefully in and out of the boats to maneuver over rocks and branches in our quest to finish first.

4. Focus on the positive

My management style is to give team members regular feedback. For example, when a customer or an executive praises an individual, I’ll share this news with the entire team. QBRs complement this informal feedback by serving as a place to more formally acknowledge top performers with awards. It’s also a time when I can give a nod to the hard work that went into overcoming obstacles, again with a positive spin.

5. Play and celebrate

Above all, think about how you want your team members to feel while they’re at a QBR and when they return home. I want my team members to have fun, feel good about their achievements in the past quarter and be inspired with a clear vision of their goals for the upcoming quarter.

I believe in the transformative power of play to bring teams together. That’s why I schedule fun activities, such as off-site dinners and team-building exercises at every QBR. Our race down the Truckee River ended at the River Ranch cafe, where we shared stories for hours about the journey down the river.

A QBR is a prime time to build the team culture you want. How can you take advantage of these ideas in your next team gathering? Share your ideas and comments below.

Alice Katwan

Working in sales at enterprise software companies for nearly 20 years, Alice Katwan leads the Genesys North American West Commercial and Operational activities, which accounts for half of the company’s North American revenue. Her team —made up of an equal number of women and men, unheard of in high-tech sales—has achieved record revenue growth. Connect with Alice on LinkedIn. Follow @AliceKatwan on Twitter.

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