Why can’t I use my customer relationship management software (CRM) for customer success management (CSM)?
Think of it as using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. As screwdrivers are designed, they aren’t best suited to drive nails straight. You may use the back end of one, but you’ll likely end up with a crooked nail or a damaged screwdriver handle.
The same logic goes for trying to use your Sales Force Automation (SFA) tool as a Customer Success Management tool. It’s not designed to manage the work involved in delivering ongoing value to B2B subscription-based businesses.
As growth-minded B2B companies charter Customer Success teams, they are asking important questions about what resources (both human and technology) they need. Investing in software to support this function should be taken seriously. A tool designed for managing pipelines will be inadequate for managing the complex workflows involved in customer success.
Similarly, Customer Success tools that only provide metrics around customer health will be hind-sighted, rather than provide the ability to proactively deliver what customers need to be engaged and “healthy”.
Let’s Break it Down.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): a comprehensive term that refers to all the ways a business manages the data of their business relationships
- Sales Force Automation (SFA): a tool specifically designed to manage sales pipelines. Its primary functionality is built upon tracking opportunities.
- Customer Success Management (CSM): a process which is dedicated to managing the work associated with delivering continuous value to customers. CSM tools manage work around best practices for Customer Success and are built around customer engagement models.
2. Tools Used
- Consider all the account data accessed throughout an organization, and the multiple tools used to keep track of that data as shown in the diagram at right.
- All of these functions rely upon much of the same data, but have different vantage points and needs.
3. Key Differences Between Tools
- Sales Force Automation is focused on opportunity management, while Customer Success Management is focused on managing the ongoing delivery of value and the assessment of outcome attainment.
- Not only do the functions within the organization differ, but the tools designed for these functions also operate differently. SFA tools are not designed to manage triggered workstreams, while CSMs are (or should be).
- Consider the differences in functionality between an SFA and a CSM tool in the diagram below*.
(*based upon the functionality of Salesforce and Bolstra)
Let’s Sum it Up.
Just as the people who comprise a CS team have unique talents, so must the technologies that support them be purposely built to assist in their daily work needs. The tools required to support Customer Success are designed around the work required of CSMs. This is work that requires full visibility, supports doing the right work at the right time, and is defined by best practices. It requires a Customer Success Management tool that has all these functions.