Strategic Thought Partner

Corinne Goldberg
Corinne Goldberg Member Posts: 7 Seeker
edited January 2021 in Strategy & Planning
Hi GGR community! 

There is some great discussion going on about what to cover/not to cover during QBRs or Account Reviews. I'm impressed by the diversity in approach and creativity from this community. 

I'd love to hear how you think about reinforcing your role as a strategic thought partner during sessions with Exec Sponsors. Typically, we think of QBRs as an oppty for a historical look back at adoption. I sometimes find myself in the weeds explaining BAUs, granular feature adoption. That can pigeonhole me and leave the impression that I am not a strategic thought partner.

I've experimented building in a topic during a QBR around thought leadership. For example, "your [customer's] perspective on the state of your industry, competitive differentiation, what will the future of your industry look like?" 

I'd love to hear from CSMs & CS leaders: what is the right positioning for Exec-level & C-Suites. What do they enjoy talking about that can up-level the dialogue, so they come away "warm & fuzzy" and feeling like we had a thought-provoking conversation. Thanks!


  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 132 Expert
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    edited January 2021
    Hi @Corinne Goldberg -- great question, and as you suggested there's little room for "backward looking" topics in a QBR as you don't want to spend that valuable stakeholder/exec time on problems and instead should be focused on the path forward, i.e. "Joint Success Planning" (JSP).  To accomplish that, for "tier 1 / high-touch" accounts we use our own "Waypoint's TopBox" SaaS to get "deep and wide" feedback from all of the right contacts in the account, by persona. We get visualizations of the feedback that show what the account collectively feels is working well and what needs improvement.  Those facts go into the QBR deck with a first draft of the JSP. That is, we show up with a draft plan of who-will-do-what, including assigning actions to exec sponsors and other key stakeholders, to drive the desired outcomes.

    BTW, one of the questions we really like to ask in the Pre-QBR assessment questionnaire is, "To what extent is Waypoint's TopBox demonstrating leadership in the Voice-of-Customer market?" and then we can do deep-dives into that area. Splitting the results by persona truly helps understand how each persona perceives the full solution, beyond just product/technology.

    And because we tend to acquire 80%+ response (participation) from the approach, the feedback is truly "representative" and trustworthy and therefore easy to share and drive action around the business.  We don't spend time discussing issues because we now truly know those and instead focus on execution of a the well-aligned business roadmap.Makes working with customer so much easier!

    Hope this helps... happy to provide more details...!
  • Rich Alessi
    Rich Alessi Member Posts: 6 Seeker
    edited January 2021
    @Corinne Goldberg

    As a CSM (or PS or Support) employee at a software company, you have 1 thing that the customer is almost always highly interested know.   "What do companies like me do / how do they do it".   You know the answer since you see how all your customers operate - the wildly successful ones and the not so successful ones.  That automatically makes you a very valuable thought partner and the customers should listen to you every time when you get to this part of your presentation.   You have to figure out what that means at your particular company, i.e. can you share genercized data, can you share sanitized case studies, etc.

    In my experience, that's the best path to be considered the highly valuable though leader / advisor / etc. in your space for your product.
  • Max Smith-Gee
    Max Smith-Gee Member Posts: 13 Contributor
    edited January 2021
    Hey Corinne, 

    LOVE this question, and I think there are some great responses on this thread. Some quick themes that I like to cover with Executives are:
    • How we connect with their own KPIs? Are we driving $$ towards the top line or saving $$ on the bottom line? 
    • Can we scale with their growth? As a strategic partner I want to stress that we are long-term and scalable with them
    • Industry Trends that are relevant to them? What are other leaders in their space doing? Have they published something of their own or hosted a webinar or spoke at a conference? 
    • Bringing in your own leadership! Matching titles with titles can always be helpful to build rapport and trust. 
    I hope this helps. These are obviously high-level themes and happy to give you example or 'get into the weeds'. 

  • Corinne Goldberg
    Corinne Goldberg Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    edited January 2021
    Thanks for sharing how your org approaches QBRs @Steve Bernstein. I love the idea of collecting feedback by persona ahead of the session. I'd imagine that also helps the customer feel that their feedback has been taken on board, rather than go into a black hole as part of recurring surveys. I'd love to experiment with visualizations around feedback, I'm imagining almost like a heat map of sorts? Thanks for sharing that perspective!
  • Corinne Goldberg
    Corinne Goldberg Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    edited January 2021
    Thanks for sharing @Rich Alessi, that's a helpful reminder that customer credentials are a valuable tool to leverage with Execs and other stakeholders. I've found highlighting a couple of stories tends to go over very well, and it's a great route to plant potential up-sell ideas. Appreciate you sharing that perspective. 
  • Corinne Goldberg
    Corinne Goldberg Member Posts: 7 Seeker
    edited January 2021
    Thanks for sharing @Max Smith-Gee, those are some great suggestions. I love your third bullet and that's probably what I was getting at with my question. Doing a bit of research to understand what events they've attended, where they position themselves as a thought leader, and industry trends would set me up for a productive conversation. I also love the idea of bringing in leadership, this has worked wonders on some accounts, albeit not always feasible for less strategic, accounts which is why I was thinking about where I could add the most value. Appreciate your feedback!