Hot take coming your way: Customer Success software is not just useful for CSMs and CS leaders. It’s wildly helpful for salespeople, too.
I know what you’re thinking. “Here goes another SaaS company, claiming their product can be everything to everyone.” Don't worry, we're not going to do that.
But after interviewing Vitally’s Founding Account Manager Lauren Axworthy and Senior Customer Success Manager Steph Townes, I’m confident it is for salespeople, specifically any Account Managers (AMs) or Account Executives (AEs) who are responsible for upsells, cross-sells, renewals, or expansion. The insights, screenshots, and examples in this article are all thanks to them.
Lauren and Steph use Vitally not just for typical relationship management and post-sales tasks, but rather to close new deals. Lauren specifically said she spends more than 95% of her day in Vitally because it gives her:
- Accurate, easy-to-digest data visibility
- The ability to be strategically proactive from one place with her CS counterparts
Before we dig into the perks of using Vitally to create, manage, and grow revenue opportunities, let’s first talk about how we got here in the first place. Why are Sales and CS teams not on the same page already?
The Problem: The Uncoordinated Dance Between Sales and CS
Be honest with yourself: Do your company’s sales and CS efforts — think customer handoffs and tag-team renewal conversations — feel repeatable and efficient? Or are they random, disjointed, and kind of confusing?
“Across the tech industry as a whole, there’s a major gap between Sales and CS.” — Steph Townes, Senior Customer Success Manager at Vitally
For AEs or AMs who are asked to “go back in and expand previously closed-won accounts,” or CSMs who are told to “bring Sales in when it’s time for renewals,” this is how everyone feels.
It’s not because of a lack of respect or appreciation for what the other team does. It’s because pre-Sales and post-Sales work has been siloed for so long. No one’s given CSMs, AMs, or AEs a way to stay in lockstep with each other and their “shared” customers over time, and it feels like more trouble than it’s worth to work together. Therein lies the problem.
When working together is more hassle than helpful, CS teams end up doing things like:
- Pestering AEs and AMs to update Hubspot or Salesforce records with expansion notes so they’re not flying blind with their own accounts
- Convincing Sales VPs to pull their AEs or AMs away from closing new logos to join kickoff calls and hand off customers more tactfully
- Asking AEs and SVPs — or worse, new customers themselves — what the customer’s goals are with their new purchase when they’ve already shared that
- Delivering an awkward, suboptimal customer experience
While more tech is not always the solution, especially in a world where salespeople are saturated in tech, the right tech is. A Customer Success Platform ends this chaos.
The Solution: Sales Teams Need To Work Where Customer Insights Live
Without a Customer Success Platform (CSP), customer insights live in people’s minds, notebooks, Salesforce, Google Docs, LinkedIn DMs, emails — everywhere. That information needs to live in one place.
“Why can’t it just live in our CRM?” you may be asking yourself. Because Hubspot and Salesforce were made for first-time sales; not for ongoing customer relationships that grow and evolve. CSPs are made to grow with customers.
There’s one important caveat here: Customer Success software is objectively most valuable for navigating new opportunities within existing customers, less so during the initial lead nurturing and prospecting days before an opportunity turns into NRR. But interestingly enough, Lauren and Steph both flagged one important instance where a CSP can really help pre-Sales teams: during a trial.
If a prospect is going through a trial, their AE could use a CSP to either:
- See how adoption is going based on their product usage data, or
- Comb through the data of current customers that are from the same industry (or a similar size or use case) and recommend actions and easy wins for their trial users based on what’s worked well for those current customers.
So there are CSP use cases for AEs who are only focused on new logos, but the real benefits are on the post-sales side. For the balance of this article, that’s what we’ll focus on.
Here are the two main benefits Sales teams who work in a CSP enjoy that siloed teams don’t.
👀 Accurate, Easy-to-Digest Data Visibility
Salespeople, good news: As long as your organization has either a data warehouse or tools that identify accounts using the same external IDs, you can pull everything you’d ever need to know about a customer into just one place. A CSP can ingest everything from communication history and ticket submissions, to the latest notes from a CSM and product usage data. Vitally is a legitimate one-stop shop for customer insights and data.
“Sales teams are walking into a lion’s den if they don’t know about things like bugs, feature requests, or support conversations. A CSP makes sure sellers have informed, educated conversations with customers every time.” — Lauren Axworthy, Founding Account Manager at Vitally
Salespeople who lean on Vitally love the ability to visualize each customer alone or their book of business as whole using sleek dashboards and simple graphs. Plus, they can automate certain cadences for their accounts and set up triggers to let them know when expansion opportunities or churn risks need their attention. They can even create new deals and opportunities for existing clients right within Vitally that show up in real-time in the CRM. (Shoutout to bidirectional syncing!)
I could say more, but I’ll let these screenshots from Lauren’s demo account do the bulk of the talking.
Here’s an example of what an AE or AM’s dashboard might look like if they’re responsible for the expansion and growth of their book of business. They’ve got an easy way to see the overall ARR they’re in charge of, their customers’ aggregate Health Score, CSM sentiment, product usage, and past retention. 👇
This next one could be for a salesperson who is exclusively focused on renewals. They can see predicted churn and predicted upgrades by month, which renewal stage their customers are in, the likelihood of someone upgrading or downgrading, and even customer-by-customer Health Scores. 👇
“When I enter a customer’s renewal quarter, I have the TLDR of what’s important to them right in Vitally. I can see what they’ve been asking for and what we need to do to renew and grow them.” — Lauren Axworthy, Founding Account Manager at Vitally
How does all of this happen? Vitally integrates with your favorite tools: Salesforce, Hubspot, Gmail, Outlook, Slack, Chargebee, and Clearbit. Everything a salesperson sees in Vitally is the latest, most accurate information.
🙋 The Ability to Be Strategically Proactive
Most great salespeople are highly proactive, but without a CSP, it’s tough to know what actions will give them the most bang for their buck. With a platform like Vitally, salespeople and their CS counterparts can work together and set up alerts so that both people know instantly when any of their customers exhibit what Lauren calls “low-hanging fruit” behavior that indicates they’re ready for more of your product. This is the definition of working smarter, not harder.
For Lauren specifically, she’s got alerts set up that notify her when customers:
- Suddenly boost their use of the product, either in time or volume of users
- Have a new leader or executive join their instance of Vitally
And Steph, as a Sr. CSM, has Slack alerts set up for her and Sales teammates that fire when she “escalates” a customer because they’ve demonstrated behavior that indicates they’re a flight risk. Vitally sends a message to a shared Slack channel of people responsible for that account across Sales and CS, including a link to drive everyone back to that customer’s profile in Vitally where all of the data is. From there, they come up with an action/safe plan.
Here’s an example of the kind of dashboard that Slack alert might drive someone to. On a more positive note, if there’s a customer who’s about to hit their license limit, that is the prime time for an AE or AM to hop in and offer up more licenses. If there’s declining activity, Sales and CS folks can work together to re-engage their customer. Normally, this information is hidden, but with Vitally, it’s not just exposed; it’s organized and clear and ripe for sellers and CS folks to take action. 👇
The Main Takeaway: Customer Success Software Makes Work Easier (and Smarter) for Salespeople
In most organizations, salespeople know exactly why new prospects buy, but they don’t know what differentiates customers who flat renew from those who upgrade. Or customers who churn from those who stay.
Salespeople have one main job: close new revenue. With so much potential revenue buried in existing accounts, the rag-tag, back-and-forth between CSMs and AEs/AMs is just not cutting it anymore.
Vitally is the solution. With our top-rated Customer Success Platform, Sales and CS teammates can be proactive in how they address both risks and opportunities and work together in a way that gives customers a delightful experience.
To get a first-hand look at our platform, book your demo of Vitally today!