Everyone in the Customer Success world knows that the quarterly business review (QBR) often takes front stage as the preeminent customer meeting.
It's big, flashy, and often gets all the credit for moving an account forward.
Because of this, the cadence call is often viewed as being a less important filler meeting. But, if done correctly, this meeting can be the key to unlocking your account.
In this post, we'll take a look at how Customer Success teams can utilize the cadence meeting format to their advantage.
Let's dive in.
What is a Cadence Meeting?
For those who are unfamiliar, a cadence meeting is a recurring scheduled time between a customer account and their primary day-to-day contact(s), traditionally focused on tactical execution and alignment.
Why Should You Hold Cadence Meetings?
First, let's acknowledge that no one likes to have a meeting to just have a meeting. Especially throughout the pandemic, as people's calendars have become impossibly more time-crunched, receiving meeting time is a gift.
Meetings have to add value, be relevant, and be concise. Often, a cadence meeting is treated as 'just a check-in," and this lack of formality can create a lack of value.
Holding a cadence meeting can be incredibly helpful for the following reasons.
Cadence Meetings Provide Consistent Exposure
By having a set interaction with your customer contact, it allows you to stay top of mind, so you can remain aware of active and upcoming projects as they develop.
Think about a friendship you have where you talk to someone weekly compared to one where you catch up every few months.
The person you connect with more often hears the minutiae of life rather than the filtered headlines you may share after a few months.
Cadence Calls Allow for Relationship Building
When you don't meet with any frequency, the meetings you do have often have so much to cover you can miss out on time to develop the relational aspect. You can't cram "relationship building" into the first five minutes of a QBR and consider that goal complete.
Relationships take time to build, requiring consistency and more than an ice breaker question.
Regular Cadence Meetings Help You Gain Deeper Insight
If you only have a limited opportunity for discussion, trying to maximize gathering information from the customer can feel like a game of 20 questions.
If you set an objective to learn one new thing about the business each cadence call, you start to accumulate helpful information in a more conversational flow, without the customer feeling like they are being interrogated.
These Discussions Can Be Used to Test the Waters on a New Idea
Rather than introducing a completely new idea at a QBR where it could fall flat in front of a larger audience or the executive buyer, use the cadence meeting as a testing ground to get early insight and feedback.
The cadence meeting is a great place to bring up new topics or product suggestions and provide a high-level overview to better get a sense of whether it makes sense to advance the conversation and to bring in a specialist for a deeper dive.
As an added bonus, having you bring up the suggestion in a cadence meeting gets you comfortable with an elevator pitch while building stronger internal rapport.
That way, you only bring in additional resources when required.
How to Structure Your Customer Success Cadence Meetings
Once you've aligned with your customer on the value of a cadence meeting, you need to create a structure that allows you to maximize this time together.
While a cadence meeting may not require the formalized approval of the agenda a week before the meeting, maintaining a format that allows both sides to understand expectations and topics is helpful.
Here is a suggested cadence meeting agenda:
- Outstanding project status, next steps, and ownership
- Company updates (from both sides, as relevant)
- Review any recent tickets and feedback for you/your team
- Align on upcoming meetings, projects or goals
- Agree on key milestones to accomplish prior to next cadence call
Business Reviews vs. Cadence Meetings - Why You Need Both
I'm not advocating that the cadence meeting replace the QBR - each has its own time and place.
Some limitations of the cadence meeting (and why you should continue to hold business reviews) include:
No Executives Will Be Present
Typically, the cadence meeting is a great connection point to your main contacts or champion, but often doesn’t include the executive buyer.
This relationship is also one that needs to be established and developed, but the cadence meeting is often not the right level of detail for them.
Additionally, without time or insight from the executive buyer, you may lack hearing about a strategic company direction, as your main contact may not be involved in those conversations.
Short-Term vs. Longer-Term
The cadence meeting is often focused on the here and now - current projects, timelines, and actions. This is helpful to keep momentum but doesn't provide the opportunity to look six months or more in the future to begin laying the groundwork for longer-term alignment.
Remote vs. In-person
With a QBR having a bit more pomp and circumstance, there is (as we begin to return to a more normal world) the ability to hold these meetings in person.
This may include traveling to the customer's office for the discussion and even extending the interaction through lunch or dinner. This face time, especially beyond the meeting, can help drive a more personal and authentic relationship.
Introducing the Cadence Meeting to Your Organization
If you don't have cadence meetings set up with your customers today (and it makes sense given your segment and structure), how can you introduce them?
In bringing the idea up with a customer, you need to provide context on why you are looking to connect more frequently (hint: look at the reasons above and determine what is most relevant to your situation).
One question that has provided insight to me in the past is asking how they work with their top/favorite vendor. This provides guidance into what structure may work for them.
Then, determine what cadence makes sense - weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Look at the projects or potential projects, ticket flow, and the relationship or communication gap to help determine how often it makes sense.
You don't want to over ask for meeting time and struggle to fill it with content (which means it probably won't be a valuable meeting).
If the customer sees value in the discussion and a project ramps up that requires more frequent connections, there is the opportunity to adjust the cadence.
Once you have the customer's buy-in to meet, be sure to maximize the time together by focusing on consistently providing value!