We’re not here to hate on Salesforce. It’s a great tool. If you’re…in Sales.
But if you’re running a modern Customer Success team with an eye on revenue growth, you aren’t going to do it with Salesforce alone.
We get it, of course. You already have Salesforce, and you’re reluctant to add yet another tool to your tech stack.
If you want to use Salesforce for CS though, then you’re going to be adding a bunch of tools anyway. Add-ons and integrations and workarounds, oh my. It’s going to cost you more than buying a new tool—and it still won’t work as well as a platform that was purpose-built for CS teams.
Today’s businesses have realized that CS can’t be an afterthought anymore. If they want to keep NRR high, maximize expansions, and stop churn before it happens, then CS has to be proactive and precise.
CSMs need a tool that will help them get that job done. And it sure ain’t Salesforce.
In this article, we’ll break down:
- Why CS teams need to own post-sales data, so they can drive post-sales outcomes
- Why giving Sales and CS the right tools for the job means that everyone wins
- Why you should be powering up your CS team with Catalyst, not weighing them down with Salesforce
It’s not negotiable—you need to own your post-sales data
Salesforce is meant to house pre-sales data, and it does that very well. What it’s not designed to do is to surface insights into your existing customer accounts.
Even with major investments in customization, it will be really hard to use Salesforce to:
- Tell you when an account is ready for expansion
- Understand how your customers are using your product
- Automate customer outreach to prevent churn
- Monitor customer health
In short, it lacks the basic information that every CS team needs to do their jobs well.
If you want your CSMs to effectively pursue NRR and account expansions, then you need to give them the data involved in those outcomes:
- Product usage
- License usage
- Customer health scores
Without ready access to that data, your team is stuck in reaction mode, fighting fires and dealing with churn they can’t see coming.
You wouldn’t send a Sales rep out to do a customer demo without giving them the data they need. There’s a reason that Salesforce is so successful, after all—Sales teams that have customer data in front of them run rings around their competition.
If you want to see real results from your CS team, then you need to give them that same easy access to their customers’ data. With a customer growth platform like Catalyst, your CSMs can:
- Track customer health and set up alerts to identify accounts at risk of churn
- Boost NRR by identifying and actioning expansion and upsell opportunities
- Automate notifications and assign specific tasks as soon as a customer’s health score drops
- Finally make the leap from reactive to proactive
Sales and CS teams can both have their cake and eat it too
Catalyst closes the gap between CS and Sales by empowering each team with the information they need to be great at their jobs. Sales teams need Salesforce. We won’t argue with that. But CSMs really don’t.
With a well-integrated CS platform, there’s no more neglecting CS and then wondering why churn is so high.
And for CSMs, there’s no more going cap in hand to Sales Ops to ask for the tools you need to do your job.
No more feeling like you’re wearing hand-me-downs that were bought with Sales in mind.
What we’re not saying here is that you need to spend more and more on software licenses. In fact, many of our customers end up letting go of Salesforce seats for their CSMs; they can get access to all the data they need via Catalyst—plus insights, automation, and playbooks to get the job done.
We even offer unlimited free “read-only” licenses, so anyone (looking at you, product managers and marketers) can see customer health and behavior too.
Suddenly, instead of dragging CS into a sales tool, you’re building a truly customer-informed and customer-centric organization. And it’s not costing you an extra cent.
Work smarter, not harder
Catalyst is a lean company. We know all about the pressure to save money on software and get more out of the tech stack you’ve already got.
We also dog-food (yes, that’s a thing) our product every day. Our Senior Renewal Manager, Melanie English, manages a massive book of renewals almost single-handedly, on top of strategy sessions, overages, and much more. We asked her why she prefers using Catalyst over Salesforce for renewals.
Her answer? Catalyst makes it easier for her to work smarter, and she doesn’t get buried in admin tasks.
“I rely on Catalyst to automate a ton of communications,” explains Melanie. For instance, she uses:
- An automated introduction that goes out to every customer on Day 60, which includes a survey to gather information on their budget timeline, procurement process, and points of contact. (Something that would be basically impossible to automate in Salesforce without customization by Ops.)
- An automatic playbook that fires based on those survey answers, so she can get an email in front of the customer right when they’re planning their budget, with a quote on their projected costs to eliminate any nasty surprises come renewal time.
- A renewal kickoff playbook, which starts renewal conversation automatically 120 days before the renewal date, and which she can tailor based on the customer’s health score or other metrics.
- A Notes template that she can use during customer calls to gather relevant details and automatically update their Salesforce data during the call.
- A Renewals dashboard that she built herself in minutes (without needing to ask an Admin for help). So she has all the information about renewals, at-risk accounts, and contractions right in front of her, and can quickly report to leadership on gross retention and forecasting.
Catalyst’s automated workflows and playbooks empower people like Melanie and CSMs alike to own renewals, own customer health, and own expansions, with efficient, standardized, and effortless processes.
Do more with less
So we seem to be talking about adding another tool—you might be wondering, how is that doing more with less?
The thing is, if you want to give your CSMs actionable insights, automated workflows, and aggregated customer data (like product usage, licensing, and churn risk) using Salesforce, you will need a bunch of third-party tools and integrations.
To recreate the experience of using Catalyst in Salesforce, you’d need (at a minimum):
- A BI tool
- A marketing automation tool like Braze
- A collaboration tool like Quip
- An AI tool like Einstein
Each of these tools requires Admin time to maintain and operate. Not to mention, you’ve added a gatekeeper between your CS team and the reports, data, and project management tooling they need, like, yesterday.
Plus, if your team needs to change a process or workflow, good luck configuring Salesforce to fit your new requirements.
As Alex Cook, an Enterprise Account Executive at Catalyst, explains, this is why so many Salesforce users end up talking to our team. They know they need to be proactive with their Customer Success function—and they can’t find an affordable, practical way to do it in Salesforce.
Alex says that the big “aha!” moment with Catalyst comes when former Salesforce-only clients realize they can “alert CS reps about things that they would have missed otherwise, whether that relates to churn mitigation or expansion opportunities.”
And because you can automate your CS playbook so comprehensively, you’re also able to achieve extraordinary results with a small CS team. You can take our word for that—since we introduced our lead workflow, we’ve increased our own customer success qualified lead (CSQL) expansion revenue 1700%.
Since we introduced our automated renewal kickoff workflow, we’ve started closing renewals 23 days earlier.
And we’ve done that with a single Renewals Manager.
Why stop at Salesforce?
Actually, while we’re on our soapbox, there are a few other tools that you shouldn’t be using for CS either.
CRMs and Marketing tools
Tools like Hubspot and CRM solutions were built for Sales and Marketing teams primarily, so they’re centered around the pre-sales flow which has a very clear beginning and end. But Customer Success is ongoing, so you need features designed with that longer relationship in mind. Think lifecycle management, health measurements, and product adoption rates, for starters.
One caveat here: Customer Success should not work siloed from their go-to-market counterparts just because they’re not using the same tools. Instead, people who talk with customers day in and day out in the Customer Success org should relay their insights to their Sales and Marketing teammates so they can craft better pre-sales motions and campaigns.
Project management tools
Tools like Asana, Smartsheet, and Jira can be helpful for implementation workflows, but they’re better at customer support than customer success. They might help you track tickets, for instance, but they won’t help you spot revenue opportunities or churn risks. What’s more, they don’t integrate into core CRM tools. So the burden is on CSMs to manage multiple tools and update the client’s status in the CRM manually. Bleh.
Platforms like Slack and Google Sheets are useful tools of the trade, but if you’re handling your customer renewals with a spreadsheet and a messaging app, you’re tying your teams’ hands behind their backs. There’s no visibility over customer data, no single source of truth, no way to automate any of your processes, and no way to easily act on crucial customer information in a scalable way. Plus, you're asking your reps to do duplicative work, as most collaboration tools don't sync with systems of record; filling out something in a spreadsheet still means you have to fill it out somewhere else, too.
Business intelligence tools
BI and data analytics tools are a good way to get insight into your data, but they’re built for reporting, not for actionability. They’ll give you summaries of your customer metrics and trends, but they won’t let you set up alerts to take action immediately, whether that’s to re-engage an at-risk account or to reach out to an expansion opportunity right when they’re looking at their budget.
It’s (past) time to do better for our CS teams
We don’t expect Sales teams to use HR software to get their work done.
We don’t ask the Finance department to use a Marketing platform.
So why are so many companies still requiring CS teams to use tools that aren’t fit for purpose?
Instead, let’s give CS teams a customer success platform that was purpose-built for CS out of the box, so they can build customer health scores, automate customer outreach, reduce churn, and grow NRR.
Your CSMs deserve a Customer Success Platform (CSP) that lets them:
- View aggregated data about product use, license use, and customer health
- Switch from reactive to proactive mode with automated workflows
- Build configurable dashboards themselves without waiting for Ops support
- Actively pursue NRR and expansion targets
In other words, it’s time for Catalyst. Want to learn more about why your CSMs need Catalyst licenses, not Salesforce seats? Let us show you!