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How to Build a Great Product Deck for Your Next Quarterly Business Review

Quarterly Business Reviews, or QBRs for short, have become an effective way of reviewing product goals, plans and progress with company executives and important stakeholders. However, delivering a good presentation at a QBR can be tricky due to the mixed nature of the audience and their expectations. I’m sharing what I used to expect out of my product leader during a QBR meeting and the kind of presentations I now try to provide.

Executive team members — including the board of directors — are tasked with watching over the health of the company. The classic E-staff covers different aspects of the business:

Your role as a product leader is to give the exec team a summary of how your product is doing using empirical data and the right metrics in a consistent way that validates your hypothesis. Sound tough? It’s really not.

Your first slide should be a bullet point list of things that went well and things that didn’t go so well. Include everything you want to discuss during the review; all other slides in your deck should be supporting material for this summary slide.

Don’t list more than eight items. And make sure the list is structured well. Remember: it’s a summary of the things the executive team should care about when thinking about the product. For example:

For any item you include in the “things that didn’t go so well” column, you should have a solution you’ll present later in your presentation. That’s the basic rule of QBR presentations: don’t present a problem without also discussing how you’re going to address it. Just remember: The goal is not to try and solve those problems during the meeting.

Metrics are used to help businesses focus their resources on what’s important, so they should reflect the priorities of the company and be used to drive improvements. Overall, metrics should reflect and support the various strategies for all aspects of the organization, including sales, marketing, competition and product adoption.

The most effective product growth metrics are the ones that are simple to define, easily accessible and illustrate the success of your product. Your product metrics needs to be as consistent and easy to understand as your sales team’s numbers.

Be consistent with your measurements and make sure to coordinate your stats with your counterparts in customer success and sales because there’s nothing worse than two executives presenting conflicting data at a QBR meeting.

The North Star metric is the one that shows the true success of your product. A good North Star metric is driven by the value your product provides to your users.

This metric differs from business to business. Uber might focus on the number of drivers hired and the number of rides given, whereas an operational app like SFDC might measure Daily Active Users (DAU)/Monthly Active Users (MAU) focusing on retention and expansion. Then again, a fast-growing startup will usually focus on New Users (i.e., customer acquisition). In most cases, the North Star metric is a combination of user behavior correlated with core feature usage and business results.

When you’re focused on customer acquisition, measuring New Users and sign-ups can be a significant metric that is highly correlated to marketing and sales efforts. However, it’s vital to focus on both qualitative and quantitative aspects, because acquiring less relevant users will cause your product adoption process to look like a leaky bucket. Using product analytics you can learn about key user attributes and core feature usage that drives success in the first mile of product. You can deliver those insights in the QBR through compelling, relevant customer stories. .

Daily Active Users (and Monthly Active Users, where relevant) is a good overall indicator of usage trends. If your product is in the maturity state where only incremental changes are introduced, this key metric will serve you well. BUT, if you’re in a dynamic space and your product keeps evolving, it’s prudent to dive into the relevant cohorts. Accounting for both new users and power users (i.e., users who are more advanced in their adoption) can lead to better insights about DAU/MAU. More specifically, a higher DAU isn’t necessarily a positive occurrence if your power users are dropping off.

Feature adoption metrics are key to helping you drive more informed product decisions and focusing on features that matter most to your business. Measurements should cover different usage dimensions such as:

Be able to answer who’s using the features, when are the features are being used most, and usage trends for different cohorts.

Account-based Marketing (ABM) is a B2B account-centric approach that product and growth managers should pay close attention to. If you’re in the B2B space, your product growth relies on the value your product is able to deliver to your accounts. Being able to associate product usage with account demographics and revenue will help you drive priorities and align with and arm marketing and sales with great insights. Engaging accounts — and key personas within them — in a more coordinated way will help your company deliver a more consistent and cohesive product experience

The value your product delivers to your users is sometimes stored in your production databases as metadata and cannot be tracked through user behavior. For example, when I worked for Marketo, the Lead Conversion Rate and campaign results were key metrics that indicated the value our end customers derived from the product.

We all agree that features are built to deliver intrinsic value to your customers and impact growth. Setting clear adoption goals will help associating revenue with product and engineering investments. Accelerating adoption requires making your target users aware of those new features at the right time and guiding them to the Aha moment, that magic moment when they can realize those feature’s value.

Growth is a collaborative effort between product, customer success, marketing and sales. It is key to communicate your adoption goals and address the onboarding experience and messaging plan and have it done consistently across teams and across channels to make sure every release is crossing the finish line (which is the beginning of a whole new race).

Wait, shouldn’t this be up-front? I mean, this is what a product exec is all about, right? You and I might think the roadmap is really important but the executive team cares about current status and numbers. That’s why you presented the numbers first. The roadmap follows as a way of backing up any items you discussed in the numbers.

Remember to give your audience a chance to ask questions, but avoid the temptation to discuss each roadmap project in detail. Your roadmap slides should include the two to four high-level themes the company is pursuing and the individual projects in each, but the actual talk track should focus on just the themes and how they drive value.

I like two slides for roadmap: Current status and next 2–3 quarters, including themes, value and risks.

That’s it, you’re done. One summary slide, three or four stat slides, two roadmap slides and it’s time for Q&A. My final tip: Be passionate about what you’re doing. Be lively, make things exciting, make them personal. Passion is contagious and nothing is more off-putting than a head of product who doesn’t seem passionate about their product. Proudly share specific examples of how customers are using the product to solve their problems..

In this book, we share what we have learned about what it takes to succeed with a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company. We explain how to deliver a winning customer-centric experience strategy to your customers throughout the customer lifecycle, from acquisition to up-sell/X-sell. We show how to implement a faster and more effective product-led go-to-market strategy to meet changing customer expectations. And we share how to optimize Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) by building better contextual relationships through personalized product-driven engagement.

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