Maximizing Partnership Potential: The Importance of Business Reviews for Partners

Katie Morley

Feb 8, 2023

Maximizing Partnership Potential: The Importance of Business Reviews for Partners Featured Image
Katie Morley

Feb 8, 2023

Business Review is an essential part of any business partnership. From a customer’s standpoint, it helps them get deep insights into progress, achievements, and performance related to goals set, it also allows identifying new areas to explore, re-strategize, and set new goals. From the service providers’ standpoint, Business Reviews are an opportunity to showcase to customers that they are moving towards the goals they set to achieve, share best practices, and industry developments, and look ahead to future objectives.

In short, Business Reviews help both parties; the customer ( hereon referred to as partners) and the service provider, remain aligned on the goals and expected outcomes. Business Reviews, when done right, can become a cornerstone of an effective agile organization (McKinsey, 2020) and bring immense value to an organization by analyzing the objectives of all parties involved.

Table of Contents
  1. What is a Business Review?

  2. The format of a Business Review

  3. What to expect from a Business Review

  4. Why should a partner attend a Business Review?

  5. Preparing for the Business Review

  6. Business Review Template for Partners

  7. Reports to present in a Business Review as a partner

  8. Closing thoughts

What is a Business Review?

Business Reviews are review meetings where a partner and a service provider come together every quarter to review the impact and contribution of the service provider’s product and services to the partner. 

It is important to understand that Business Reviews are not “status update” meetings or “business as usual” meetings; they are there to specifically talk about strategy, not tactics, requiring different meeting attendees. Business Reviews should be held with key decision makers and senior stakeholders from the partner.

The format of a Business Review

In our experience, most partners fail to leverage the full potential of Business Review. Several common misconceptions harm the efficacy of a Business Review, including

  • A Business Review is simply a sales pitch from the service provider
  • A Business Review is a session where service providers brag about what their product can accomplish
  • A Business Review will always include an attempt to up-sell unnecessary products and services, at a cost to the partner
  • A Business Review is there to serve the interest of the service provider, not the partner

As a result of these misconceptions, senior stakeholders are often disinterested in attending or even scheduling Business Reviews. In instances where senior stakeholders attend a Business Review, they are often not fully prepared.

As a business leveraging third-party products to achieve desired business goals, it is in our partners’ best interest to connect with their service providers every three months to understand the progress of the previous quarter and look ahead to the next. It is an opportunity for both parties to:

Gain a clear understanding of the partnership’s performance: 

Business Reviews are an opportunity for evaluating the efforts and performance of service providers. It helps you gain a deep understanding of where the partnership is succeeding and areas for adjustment or realignment. During the review, the service provider’s team presents key metrics, present challenges, if any, and solutions they can offer to overcome those challenges. It helps both parties see any gaps between the expectation and outcomes. This way, identifying opportunities for improvement and resolution of issues happens in a timely manner.

Re-visit goals and make changes if required

In today’s fast-moving environment, having regular review meetings enables both parties to stay aligned on evolving needs and priorities. Business Reviews are an opportunity to discuss underlying business opportunities, rethink strategy, and create an action plan to achieve new goals. It also serves as a way for the partner to communicate new or changing business needs that have emerged since the last meeting so that the same can be incorporated for the following quarter. 

Overcome challenges and obstacles

When selecting a service provider, partners choose the one they believe can support them best. Sometimes, throughout a partnership, unexpected issues may arise. These can be frustrating for both parties and, in the worst cases, can cost both the partner and service provider wasted resources and time. Business Reviews are a crucial tool in identifying any potential red flags and making amends to achieve the desired outcomes while minimizing disruption to all involved. 

What to expect from a Business Reviews

Partners should leave and can expect to obtain updates on the following objectives from a Business Review: 

  • How the service provider implemented products and tools to achieve the desired goals
  • A performance review of the quarter
  • An open discussion on challenges and obstacles
  • Explore solutions for any other challenges you are facing as a business and how the vendor can help

Preparing for a Business Review requires thorough preparation both from the partner and the vendor’s end in order to make it a success. 

The common pitfalls to avoid from a partner’s perspective:

  • Walking into a Business Review without an agenda
  • Key decision makers (CEO, CMOs, Director, Managers) not attending the Business Review
  • Discussing day-to-day operational challenges of the implementation team
  • Long gaps between two Business Reviews
  • No set calendar 

Not having a clear agenda for the meeting, not conducting adequate preparation beforehand, not having a clear understanding of the vendor’s performance and service, and not effectively communicating the customer’s goals and objectives during the meeting will not result in any constructive outcome one would typically expect out of a Business Review. Besides, going into a meeting with an open mind is equally important. This means it is important to avoid focusing solely on negative issues and complaints and instead approach the Business Review with a constructive and solution-focused mindset.

Why should a partner attend a Business Review?

A Business Review is an opportunity for a partner to

  • Recap what worked and what did not
  • Highlight any open projects and dependencies
  • Discuss any unresolved issues 
  • Communicate a change in business goals
  • Evaluate the quarterly progress
  • Put forward pain points
  • Discuss future plans
  • Nurture their relationship with their CSM (Customer Success Manager)

Preparing for the Business Review

Now that you have understood the importance of attending a Business Review in your capacity as a partner, here’s what you need to do to leverage the full potential of the review meeting.

Prepare ahead of time

Being well-versed with what you signed up for, including details like basic subscription information, milestones, strategic goals, and key performance indicators, is important to assess the value you are getting out of this association. Also, reviewing the agenda of the meeting and any materials provided by the vendor in advance of the Business Review session will give you an idea of what to expect. Make a list of questions and any points you would like to discuss. 

Identify new business goals, if any

Make sure you have clear objectives and goals for the next quarter beforehand. This will allow them to make a plan to achieve those objectives effectively and efficiently. If there has been a change in your internal strategy, convey the same to the vendor. It will also help them to make better decisions about how to prioritize their resources and efforts and identify opportunities to add value to your business.

How does this work? When you onboarded company XYZ, you sought ways to retain and re-engage existing customers. However, now as a business, you decided it’s time to expand your reach and you want to acquire new customers at 2X. This needs to be conveyed to the vendor as this is a re-alignment of business goals.

Business Review is all about strategy and choosing attendees who drive them

Business Review is not about discussing day-to-day issues like who will be training your team to use vendor tools if required; Business Review typically involves decisions around:

  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Phase of implementation
  • A performance snapshot of the last 3 months
  • A discussion of the pain points and obstacles
  • Discussion about what else can the vendor do for you

In any organization, it is the leadership team, such as the CEO, CMO, and department heads who drive these decisions, work on strategy, and give approvals. It is, therefore, extremely important for key stakeholders to participate in Business Reviews so critical business decisions and actions happen in real-time, and there is no scope for any ambiguity. 

Besides, the people in the organization who are using vendor tools are often not the decision-makers. However, it is the decision-makers who are spending thousands of dollars to use those tools. It is these people, at the end of the day, who know if or not the vendor can help them achieve those goals. 

Expectation setting

List down what your expectations are out of this partnership so that you can communicate the same to your vendor during the Business Review. The scope of work, deliverables, and timelines should be communicated. This helps prevent misunderstandings or miscommunications that may lead to delays and rework. Most importantly, let your vendor know how important it is to have these meetings regularly to track progress and make improvements along the way.

However, one must understand that preparing for a SaaS Martech Business Review can be a bit different than a general Business Review. As  a partner from a SaaS Martech space preparing for a Business Review involves:

  • Reviewing their data and metrics related to the vendor’s product usage, engagement, and the outcomes they’ve achieved.
  • Reviewing their goals and objectives and how they align with the vendor’s product roadmap.
  • Reviewing their team’s feedback and satisfaction with the vendor’s product and support.
  • Having a clear understanding of the vendor’s product roadmap and upcoming releases.
  • Preparing any specific questions or concerns they would like to address during the meeting.

Common pitfalls to avoid include:

Not having a clear agenda for the meeting.

Not conducting adequate preparation beforehand.

Not having a clear understanding of the vendor’s product roadmap and upcoming releases.

Not effectively communicating the goals and objectives during the meeting.

Not having a clear understanding of one’s own data and metrics and how they align with the vendor’s product.

Not having a clear understanding of the customer’s team’s feedback and satisfaction with the vendor’s product and support.

Not approaching the Business Review with a constructive and solution-focused mindset.

Not bringing the right team members to the Business Review.

It’s essential to have the right people on the customer side involved in the Business Review, such as the point of contact, the decision-maker, the end-users, and the analysts. It’s also important to have a clear follow-up plan to ensure the discussed points are addressed and the customer’s objectives are met.

Still not prepared for the upcoming Business Review? Here’s a template for you! 

Business Review Template for Partners 

Name of
AgendaPerformance review for Q1 (period)
1.Objectives for Q1
a)………. (met/not met)
b)………. (met/not met)
c)………. (met/not met)
d)………. (met/not met)
2.Challenges/obstacles Q1
3.Vendor support
a) Satisfactory
b) Not satisfactory
4.Projects completed in Q1
5.Pending projects in Q1
6.Key metrics to discuss
7.Goals for Q2

Reports to present in a Business Review as a partner

As a partner attending a Business Review presenting the below reports can help your vendor suggest you a plan most relevant for achieving your business goals:

  • Business metrics report
  • A “behind the scenes” internal survey report that you may have conducted specific to your industry
  • Industry benchmark report
  • Competitor analysis

It would be helpful to share these reports with the vendor ahead of the Business Review so that future plans are made based on facts and figures.

Best Practices to optimize Business Review outcomes

A vendor is working towards providing solutions for many companies, which means that each customer success manager (CSM) is handling more than one partner at a time. However,  as a partner, there is a lot you can do to get more efficiency from your CSM. The best way is to build a strong, collaborative relationship with your CSM. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Communicate regularly: Schedule regular check-ins and meetings with your CSM to discuss the progress of your goals, any challenges you’re facing, and what you need from them to be successful.
  • Share data and metrics: Share relevant data and metrics with your CSM to give them a better understanding of how your business is using their product, and how they can help you achieve better outcomes.
  • Be proactive: Let your CSM know what you need and when you need it. Be proactive in communicating your goals and objectives, and be responsive when they reach out to you.
  • Be open and transparent: Be open and transparent with your CSM about any issues or concerns you have. This will help them understand your perspective and provide better support.
  • Invest in the relationship: Building a strong relationship with your CSM requires effort and investment from both parties. Be willing to invest time and resources to ensure the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Closing thoughts

A business is always evolving, and so are its goals. To run a successful relationship with SaaS platform stakeholders, it’s also important to have a clear understanding of the vendor’s product roadmap and upcoming releases and to align your goals with the vendor’s product roadmap. Additionally, regular communication and transparency about usage and feedback are crucial, as well as having a clear follow-up plan to ensure the discussed points are being addressed and the customer’s objectives are met.

Business Reviews help keep a track of gaps, incorporate a  plan to achieve new goals in real-time, and stay on top of your business growth plan. It helps all parties involved to tap the full potential of the association and presents an opportunity to collaborate, learn from each other, and grow the business together as a team. 

Katie is an award-winning content marketer with over eight years of experience in content strategy, development, and copywriting. As Global Content Director at Insider, she currently oversees content strategy across 26 regions. Fun fact: Katie read 64 books last year (for which she owes a long commute and two week-long holidays where she spent approximately six hours a day with her nose in a book).