Customer Success Platforms Don't REPLACE Salesforce, They ENHANCE It
Salesforce and Customer Success Platforms don't have to be enemies.
At Catalyst, we talk to a lot of Rev Ops and CS Ops leaders about the relationship between Customer Success Platforms (CSPs) and Salesforce. And on occasion, the Ops leader will tell us they don’t need a CSP because they already have Salesforce.
Salesforce is a fantastic product, but while it excels at powering Sales teams, it was not built for Customer Success, which means that while it is certainly a useful and customizable tool, it is not a sufficient replacement for a CSP.
Neither is a CSP a suitable replacement for Salesforce! In fact, we would go so far as to say that Salesforce would benefit from being in the same tech stack as a Customer Success Platform, and vice versa.
“Ops people tend to think they can do everything in Salesforce,” says Joe Lehr, Customer Success Operations Manager for Catalyst. “And it can do a lot. It’s just that Salesforce doesn’t do it well. And deep down, experienced Ops people already know where it’s lacking.”
Here’s why Salesforce is more valuable to an organization when paired with a CSP:
- Salesforce data is easier to maintain, manage and manipulate through a CSP
- CSMs find CSPs easier to work with than Salesforce from a UI/UX perspective
- Salesforce and Customer Success Platforms make each other exponentially more valuable for Operations teams
Let’s review this point by point:
SFDC data is easier to maintain, manage and manipulate with a CSP
Even the most die-hard Salesforce advocates admit that its UI could be better.
“Updating data in SFDC is not straightforward. What should be a simple update to perform usually turns into a drawn out series of tasks,” Joe says. “Maybe you could use SFDC extensions, sure, but they’re really not all that flexible compared to the alternative of getting a well-built CSP.”
This also applies to drawing data out of Salesforce, too. You can have the largest and most detailed customer database in the world, but that doesn’t help much if you can’t easily pull the information you need when you need it.
“Slicing and dicing is difficult for folks to do in Salesforce,” Joe admits. “I know we’re talking about Ops specifically, but it’s also very difficult for folks that aren’t in Ops. It’s just a clunky, frustrating experience all around.”
Now contrast that with a SFDC database that’s integrated with a Customer Success Platform like Catalyst. The only thing that you need to do in an active dashboard is simply click on the relevant field in the dashboard and enter the new data. Both SFDC and the CSP are synced - what happens in one, happens in the other. Any update or manipulation of data all happens in seconds.
No matter how you slice it, updating through the CSP is faster and more efficient than doing it solely through Salesforce.
CSMs find Customer Success Platforms easier to work with than Salesforce from a UI/UX perspective
Ops teams generally do a fantastic job of making sure user needs are met and that requirements for software solutions are clarified and checked off. But according to Joe, “There are some Ops people who don’t understand the pain and frustration a CSM has to go through. The initial reaction is, ‘Oh no, I have to learn another system. I could build that out in SFDC.’ But they don’t think about the critical part: the folks who are in charge of updating the data.”
“Salesforce was not built for post-sales. The clunkiness slows CSMs down and frustrates them. Many CSMs just end up exporting their data and managing everything on Google Sheets. And then when they update their sheets, where does that go? Right back into Salesforce. It’s a circular problem.”
Left unchecked, this seemingly minor UI problem can have severe consequences for the business. “You can build out the metrics and the structure, but if people aren’t able to update the data regularly, then you have inaccurate data, which is dangerous for your reports and dashboards, and by extension to the leadership team that relies on them to make decisions.”
By having a CSP like Catalyst be the CSM-facing interface, and using Salesforce to power everything else in the backend, Ops can keep Salesforce populated with up-to-the-minute data while boosting Customer Success’ productivity.
Salesforce and Customer Success Platforms make each other exponentially more valuable for Operations teams
You as an Ops person are correct to be cautious about the integration process in any new CSP, but that doesn’t mean it should be an automatic “no.” Salesforce works best when a team builds processes that support Salesforce’s strengths and compensate for its weaknesses. And the degree to which this is effective depends entirely on the capabilities of the CSP you’re working with.
“Catalyst has a lot of functionalities where you could build processes in place to supplement what you’re doing with Salesforce.” Joe says. Functionalities like:
- Pre-formatted note templates
- Helpful and actionable alerts
- Weighted Health Scores based on SFDC data
Putting processes in place like this will also make Ops look really good to leadership. You build a process that feeds information into a comprehensive executive dashboard in real time. When everyone’s looking at the same dashboard, everyone’s following the same path.
“It’s all about perception,” Joe says. “RevOps and CS Ops assume linking a CSP with Salesforce will be difficult and drawn-out because that’s what they expect. And for some CS platforms, this might be true. But in the case of Catalyst, it’s very intuitive and easy for the most part, and it blows people away.”
Salesforce and CSPs are like PB&J
I hope we’ve proven by this point that Salesforce and a Customer Success Platform don’t have to compete for space in your tech stack. It’s perfectly feasible - even beneficial - to have both systems coexist in a mutually beneficial relationship. They make up for each other’s strengths in a way that elevates Customer Success teams and the company as a whole, leading to improved productivity, accurate data in all systems, and ultimately increased revenue.
Want to learn more about how a Customer Success Platform like Catalyst can supplement Salesforce? Let us show you!
Stories, best practices and thought leadership from the customer success community.