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Quarterly Business Meetings and the Preemptive Strike

Holding quarterly business reviews can help you manage your client’s changing needs, report on your success, and make the necessary adjustments to help create their future. But if these meetings aren’t handled well, and if you forego the pre-work necessary, you run the risk of turning your quarterly business review into an execution—with you as the guest of honor.

Without the pre-work, quarterly business reviews can easily turn into a forum to voice complaints, large and small. And they can easily descend into a chaotic series of attacks that are difficult to defend. This is not the goal of your quarterly business review.

Here is what you can do to ensure that your reviews are effective and don’t end up being only a forum for complaints.

Collect Dissatisfaction Ahead of Meetings

You should never be far from your clients to begin with, but it really helps to meet with them in the days and weeks leading up to your quarterly business review. These meetings give you a chance to collect any dissatisfaction in advance of the meeting.

Your client wants to be heard. They want a chance to share with you any problems that they are having. They need you to listen to them, and they need to know that you care.

It is not a good idea to wait until your quarterly business review to discover that your client has a lingering, festering problem. It’s a horrible idea for you to allow these issues to surface in a meeting with your key stakeholders—and you caught off guard. Your being surprised is evidence that you don’t care enough to find out how satisfied your client is—or isn’t.

By collecting the dissatisfaction ahead of your business review, you not only give your client a forum, you also give yourself an opportunity to do something about it.

Resolve Dissatisfaction Ahead of Meetings

The best course of action when you discover that your client has a problem, a challenge, or an issue is for you to dig in and resolve the issue. Going into a business review is no different. Once discovered, you need to make corrections.

Your goal should be to gain the opportunity to correct any unresolved problems. For complicated problems, you should do your best to gain agreement on a new course of action and to begin taking the steps to correct problems. And keep them informed.

By taking action, you eliminate much of the need to try to solve these problems during your review, and you prevent the problems from crowding out the rest of your agenda.

Report on Resolution at Quarterly Business Reviews

Your agenda at the business meeting should not be to uncover the problem. Your agenda and your goal in that meeting should be to discuss and verify that the needed results are being produced according to plans. If they are, you can check the box and claim victory.

If problems are not yet resolved, you can discuss adjustments. This is a far better plan than allowing the problem to surface during the meeting, when there is limited time and where these discussions can turn into something far less productive.

The real problems you want to tackle at your business review meetings are the future-looking challenges that will bring future value creation. If all of your time is spent on problems that are revealed for the first time, you have lost the time you might have used for a higher value creating and differentiating meeting.

Questions

Why shouldn’t you allow yourself to be surprised to discover your client has problems at your quarterly business meeting?

What does your lack of knowledge about problems say about how much you care?

What are the advantages to resolving problems quickly and in advance a business meeting?

What is the highest value creating activity you should be taking during your business reviews?


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