Customer-Led Growth & Where Customer Ed Comes In? Kevin Chiu, COO & Co-Founder, Catalyst, Explains
Let’s be real. Retention rates are at an all-time low.
So, in a world where you have to do more with less, how do you still service the same customer base and prevent churn?
“You can't apply high-touch one-on-one CSM strategies to everything. And so you absolutely have to. So products, I think, like the one that you're working on, is an incredible solution—one avenue to drive customer education. If people don't understand how to use the mission-critical moments of impact we call in the product, then you are going to lead to churn,” says Kevin Chiu, Co-Founder & COO, Catalyst.
In our latest episode of LEARN, Kevin Chiu joins Ted to take a deep dive into customer-led growth (CLG) and where customer education comes into play.
Additionally, they discuss customer operations and where to invest so you can grow your business.
Tune in to hear Kevin’s key frameworks around:
- CS prioritization and infrastructure for customer-led growth
- Comp plans, renewals, and the evolution of the CSS role
- Leveraging Customer Education for business growth
Check out this episode to learn more about customer-led growth and how to impact your customer base. Listen on your favorite podcast app.
01:02 - Intro
01:43 - Kevin Chiu’s background & about Catalyst
04:15 - Customer-Led Growth (CLG)
11:11 - CSS comp plans
14:12 - CSM: Old vs. new generations
17:22 - Kevin’s framework for growth
22:26 - Education is essential & why digital CS isn't a segment strategy
26:46 - Catalyst’s top priorities for the next year
29:31 - Rapid-fire round
Kevin Chiu: How do you get your customers to learn what you want in a digital world? Digital and scaled CS in the many forms that it comes in is required across all components of the business. In a world where you have to do more with less, right? Look at the market. Companies were overvalued, they raised too much capital, they're running out of cash, and they're cutting headcount, but the customer base is still the same. You still have to service them. So you can't apply high-touch one-on-one CSM strategies to everything. And so you absolutely have to, right? So products, I think, like the one that you're working on, is an incredible solution. One avenue to drive customer education. If people don't understand how to use the mission-critical moments of impact we call in the product; then you are going to lead to churn. Because, you know, you can't just have a CSM educate every decision maker, every potential power champion or adopter in the company. You have to think about all the different digital ways you have to do it.
Ted Blosser: Hi, I'm Ted Blosser, CEO, and Co-Founder of WorkRamp, where we're redefining the corporate learning space with the world's first all-in-one learning cloud for employee and customer learning. Welcome to the Learn podcast, where we learn from the biggest leaders in SaaS and hear what makes them successful. Hope you enjoy the show. Hey, what's up, everyone? Welcome back to the Learn podcast. We have amazing guests with us today. Kevin Chu, Co-Founder and COO of Catalyst. Kevin, welcome aboard.
Kevin Chiu: Thanks so much, Ted, for having me. I'm super excited.
Ted Blosser: Well, let's get kicked off on your background and also background Catalyst, give us an elevator on both you and the company,
Kevin Chiu: So, elevator pitch on myself, I was a, uh, I've always been into tech. I have been reading Tech Crunch since I was like in eighth grade, sales leader by trade. So grew up in the world of sales, in a sales-led world, and, uh, coincidentally ended up at the same company as my brother and now c e o and co-founder Edward at a company called Dig Ocean. And that's where the idea was birth for Catalyst, uh, customer growth and retention software to help protect and grow, uh, protect revenue leak and grow revenue. And you know, now with the economic climate shift, the elevator pitch on CDOs is there's nothing more than protecting the base and growing it, right? If we look at the market right now, so many sales teams are missing quotas, like data from whether it's rep view or only c f o a very popular finance sub stack. Um, data from the pavilion, like every sales team out there, is missing a new business quota. And the dilemma is you still have to grow revenue or die, and that's your customer base. At least, that is the world that we are living in now in a customer-led world. And Catalyst helps solve that.
Ted Blosser: Well, we're gonna do a deep dive into the concept of customer-led growth. The question I have to ask, though, before we jump in, what's it like working with your brother, by the way?
Kevin Chiu: Oh, never do it. Never do it. No, I'm just joking. Uh, the joke is, you know, my mom is the real CEO Uh, when we told her we were starting the company in 2017, she was very emotional, very emotional, like emotional for five, six minutes, and it was a little bit awkward. Like, what the hell's going on? You should be really excited. We just raised two and a half million dollars. We're gonna be fricking top of the world. Little do we know it is gonna be a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, and you know, she had some experiences with some siblings and starting companies, and that doesn't always work, right? You don't wanna, not a lot of people start companies with, uh, siblings, significant others, people that you have to see every minute, every day, right? You need a little bit of space. And so she wanted to make sure that we would be able to get through anything. And you know, Edward is one of the few people on planet Earth that I think we could get through anything. So we've had our hardships, but we work incredibly well together, and uh, there's a good balance.
Ted Blosser: Well, hopefully, you're more like the Collison brothers and less like the Harbaugh brothers who, uh, had to compete against each other during, during
Kevin Chiu: Yeah, I've heard good things about the Collison Brothers
Ted Blosser: Alright, well, let's go into the acronym CLG, customer-led growth. Give us the core principles you find in CLG so that we can understand a little bit better.
Kevin Chiu: Yeah, it's uh, it's interesting. I've, you know, the, the market right now is talking about all things customers. So I think it only makes sense that with or without Catalyst, we are in a customer-led world and customer-led growth. And I was sitting next to a CRO at a, at a CRO dinner, uh, in Chicago. And it was funny, this, this person was like, what does customer-led growth even mean? Like, isn't that obvious? Like, you know, I wish it were obvious. Maybe it is, but the execution isn't there. Why do you look at the market? Fast forward 12 months back ago; I guess I just fumbled my words there, but you know what I mean is that we were in an economic environment where you could raise as much capital as you want. You didn't need to back it up with metrics, right?
Kevin Chiu: Profitability and efficiency might be an obvious thing, but that wasn't prioritized to grow revenue at a slow and profitable pace wasn't the thing. Andreessen Horowitz, uh, you know, the S V B crash and all these things like these were indicators of an overfunded market that were making bets without necessarily all the right metrics. And when you have everybody making those bets, it's hard not to take the same bet, right? Because if you are a bootstrapped organization and you have a great product with happy customers, and Tiger comes in and gives you a new competitor, a hundred million, what are you gonna do? You're going to raise 50 million from the next VC, right? And so you start to prioritize new business growth in a sales-led world, which means big s d R teams, big marketing spend, not necessarily watching c profitability isn't a thing that the market rewarded or cared about.
Kevin Chiu: And so, you know, I have this saying which is like, the market is the herders and the, and the companies are the sheep. You just follow what everyone else is doing, and overnight, you have the market dynamics switch, and it's really hard to close new business, right? Procurement teams are getting more strict. CFOs have a really huge influence on every single thing that's buying; you know, the term product-led growth implied that people could buy things in a bottoms-up way. They could just go sign up for their credit card and convert to a company. No one's watching. Capital is not expensive, right? There's an abundance of capital. So you're not really watching software spending, and renewal rates are at an all-time high. And again, FastTrack fast track to the market that we are in today. Nobody is buying new business software. New business teams are missing their quota. And when nobody's buying marketing, inbounds are also down because why would you go and spend all this time requesting demos if the CFO said you couldn't buy anything for the entire year? So you think about what is a faster, cheaper, more cost-effective way to grow revenue with less red tape. You're sitting on it; you're sitting on a pot of gold with your customers. And so, in a customer-led world, it's about prioritizing infrastructure on your customers and being able to retain them and grow them. So
Ted Blosser: Let me ask you a little bit more of a specific question based on this concept, and I'll give some numbers actually actual numbers from like Work Ramp, and I'm curious to get your take on whether this is right or not. Actually, I was actually playing tennis last night with a C R O, and I was running the numbers off him 'cause I think you need a nice balance still to have some new business come in; otherwise, you won't have that customer-led growth. Long term. So, for example, historically work ramp and we're, and let's just call it SaaS for now, um, in the SaaS category for us, we were historically about 60% new business, 40% upsell or cross-sell, whatever you wanna call it. And we've now essentially, over the last quarter or so, flipped that to about 60% growing from the base, 40% from new business in this market today. Do you have a rule of thumb you give to CROs or, um, heads of success on, hey, what are good balances in this market so that you don't taper off your future growth as well? Um, do you have any good benchmarks that you have been sharing with leaders or is it, or is it too individual per client?
Kevin Chiu: I don't think it's too individual per client. I think we're just still relatively new in this world where there aren't years and years of data sets, right? I think any benchmark is recency bias. Um, so look, all that's to say is Catalyst is actually working on a state of the economic market and a customer-led world, and we'll be able to share that out. So make sure to stay tuned with, you know, the catalyst updates. But I don't think there is a benchmark yet. That is the status quo. You need data and years and like trends for that. And I think we're about to hit the cusp of being able to get that. I think you're absolutely spot on in the initial stage of a business. You need a base to be able to apply that methodology, and you need to acquire customers.
Kevin Chiu: I think that the biggest takeaway, though, is the mindset shift in what that even means. And so it's mm, simple concepts that are oftentimes overlooked. An example is most compensation plans really just incentivize a new business account executive to close the deal and pass it off to cs. Now you Google sales to CS handoff. Why is there so much content out there? Because the process sucks. The customer comes to you, and the new business is, who is incentivized to close the deal and pass it off the CSS, and a majority of the time, not really think about it again, right? 'cause there's a renewals team, there's a CSS team. They drive the right behavior by having the right comp plan. So that's also part of the challenge. And so in this world where I buy something and then I tell the AE this information like, Hey, I'm buying it for X, Y, and Z by the time they renew, I guarantee you no one even remembers what they even told you on day one of why they bought the product.
People barely present the right metrics and ROI in these quarterly business reviews that basically beg the customer to understand how much value they're getting. So I think there are a lot of operational things as we invest in sales operations. That is a new business sales investment predominantly. What about customer operations? There are so many things that go into customer infrastructure, customer debt, customer processes, and workflows that the intention and outcome is to drive expansion in renewal revenue. And most people don't really think about it until things start really breaking. And so, for me, in this current environment, it's less about having the perfect benchmark but just organizing the company's priorities around the customer.
Ted Blosser: You know, you, you just hit on a topic we were even talking about internally. Do you have any strong opinions on better CSS comp plans in this type of market? Um, it could be anything like, you don't have to get too specific, but do you have any strong opinions on CSS comp plans yet? Or maybe this is coming on a benchmark report? <laugh>,
Kevin Chiu: We actually have a lot of, uh, CSS compensation data, so you could also find that on our website. So looking at a high level, I think CSMs need to pay and be paid more. And let me caveat that with CSMs in this economic environment, I think that I write a lot of content that you've actually read, which is like CRO 1.0 versus CRO 2.0. What do most CSMs do versus what do CSMs should do, right? In a market like this, when you are talking to the customer for a year-long contract, whether you're an SMB CSM, mid-market CSM, or enterprise CSM, you have to be a challenger. That is a concept in sales. And what typically happens in the CSS world is you've been trained to be great at servicing the customer, saying, yes, let me get right back to you.
Kevin Chiu: Monitoring one-hour SLAs, right? Your compensation is arrived, is derived around just making the customer as humanly happy as possible. Uh, and I think in this world where there're skeptics, there are people canceling, they're gonna ask you for feature requests that don't necessarily make sense. You have to challenge the customer to think about why you want this feature. How does this feature TED tie to the top three OKRs in initiatives of why you bought the workroom? Does this sound like a nice to have, or does this sound like a need to have that level of discovery? Rarely, this rarely happens with CSMs. It might happen on an account management team, which you could bucket under CSS. It might happen with a strategic or enterprise CSM who's got five accounts and is trained in discovery and has a quota because their book size is so big.
But for a majority of CSMs, they aren't that. And I wanna be clear on something 'cause I've been called out on this before. Yes, A lot of this is leadership. A lot of this is training. CSS is not a dumping ground for everything that is in sales. And it has kind of become that because CEOs and board of directors and frankly what I call a VP and CCO 2.0 need to think differently. It is a different type of leader. It is a revenue leader. You have to believe and understand that a majority of your growth will always come from your customers. And the process and infrastructure and prioritization around it are around that. If you don't, you will get this Dumpster fire, CSS ground where they could do everything and they have nothing else but being trained to be, yes. Let me get right back to you. Let me handle that feature question. Yep. Lemme go ask product right now.
Ted Blosser: You had this great post that actually dives into this topic a little bit more of essentially old-generation CSMs and new-generation CSMs. And you and you talked a little about, hey, I also think they should get paid more if they move into a new generation CSM. What are the, for the audience, what would you say characterize like the top three things in the perfect world of kind of this new generation C S M that we should all potentially strive towards?
Kevin Chiu: Let me give you two that I could think of, and I'm sure I'll be able to think of the third in just a second. So the first, actually, I could think of three. Then the first one is being able to ask the right questions. Great discovery skills are a trained skill in the art of sales. And you don't need to necessarily act commercially as a CSM, but you certainly need to think commercially because you are, in fact, holding a big pot of gold that, if you let that leak on the post-sale world, gross retention and net retention numbers are not gonna look good. And that is the number one, number two metric in every boardroom right now. The second is you need to be a challenger. So I won't go too deep into that because we just discussed what being a challenger mindset is.
Kevin Chiu: And then I think the third one is you gotta be able to sell the product, uh, and at least articulate it in a way where it's really value driven. Like I would bet any CEO or CRO or CCO, whoever's listening to this podcast right now, go listen to your best sales rep and your best CSM, listen to those two calls in Gong or whatever tool you're using. And I will bet you that they are night-in-day differences in how they pitch and how they drive value. That's a problem because what the customer bought and what they're hearing is different than what they're receiving in value and onboarding implementation leading up to renewal. And you know, I actually have a post queued up, which is, there's a lot that goes into this, so I'll stick it at the high level, which is like every C S M right now is struggling with explaining why the customer should renew, right?
Kevin Chiu: It's why retention rates are at an all-time low because everybody's canceling turns at an all-time high. And who's on the call explaining to customers why they should stay on the product? That is a reselling process, and you probably have your least trained person to resell it because all the people that are trained in command of the message and, uh, medic frameworks and deal risk mitigation, they're on the new business side. And so I'm not saying to just package that up and put it on a new business because I think new business doesn't always understand the intricacies and nuance of all the post-sale things that really matter. But there's just gonna be an evolution of both sides of the coin from sales to CSS that's gonna mean in the middle, which is a go-to-market team.
Ted Blosser: What's the solution? Let's say you're an organization, and you want to essentially uplevel your c s m org into being growth mi with or being, uh, an org that has a growth mindset; what is the solution? Is it better enablement? Is it the right hires now top of the funnel? You have to get the right people in. Is it, is it the leaders? What would you say if a company says, Hey, actually, I believe in what Kevin is saying, and I want to get there? Now how do you actually get there? Would you say, if you're, let's say if you're currently at a team of kind of, uh, what you, what you would call kinda the legacy CSM function,
Kevin Chiu: It starts with the people. It really does. And by people, I'm not talking just the CSM or the VP of Cs or the CCO, oftentimes you could have all the right people there, but the CEO just doesn't care and doesn't understand there's too many internal politics for the C Ss organization to win. And that's hard because maybe the board of directors is influencing this first-time CEO and how they think, and they also don't care, right? Like I meet a lot of VCs that it, they just don't really understand. They're kind of a laggard in this customer-led growth movement. Now they understand it because all of their customers are, or all their portfolio companies are raising down rounds because they have major leaky buckets all over the place. And so, the CEOs and boards take responsibility and ensure a customer-led growth mindset.
Kevin Chiu: Next is the org structure is really, really critical. The CEO is the chief org designer. And to me, it doesn't necessarily matter if like it's one team or if it's separate teams, but if you have the wrong CRO who is, basically, a glorified VP of sales who only knows new business SDR ae, uh, sales operations, they, they will struggle in this new economic environment and extracting more revenue from your customers. There's a lot of strategies and process that they just don't know. At the same time, you have this tricky situation, which is, you know, the VP of CS or the chief customer officer that doesn't really know how to act commercially or think commercially in any capacity. But you have the, the, the CRO of Miro, right? This person named Santo, we used to be their CCO, and she was the CSO of, I believe, Okta, uh, and then also checker before.
Kevin Chiu: And you're seeing the CRO of Hoppin, which used to be the Chief Customer Officer. It used to be a VP of CSS at Salesforce. And so you're seeing the rise of very commercially driven CSS leaders. They get the seat of the CRO. That's incredibly exciting. You've never seen something like that before. And it's because, in this world that is customer-led, you need to understand customer strategy, understand customer lifetime value, understand all of those things. So it's a complicated dilemma that I think we're all in the process of figuring out together. Um, but you gotta get the right people on both sides of the house.
Ted Blosser: That makes a ton of sense. And I and I think what we see in our world is, hey, you have to have the right leadership mindset, and people can adapt and change. And so I think that it requires a lot of enablement training, but you have to put in that time to get them there and change them into growth and to having a growth mindset. So, so my personal advice is, hey, it's doable with, I would call, the ICS you have, it will take a lot of change management, but the leaders, just like you're saying, is they truly have to have a CLG mindset.
Kevin Chiu: A hundred percent. And lemme just add one more thing real quick 'cause I forgot, forgot to add. It is like there is just a reality that some CSMs and some CSS leaders just aren't into that. And that's okay because markets shift. But when markets shift, the job description and demand, and requirements for the company to survive also shift. So there are a lot of CSMs that I talk to that just don't; they are not comfortable in asking hard, tough discovery questions that I fundamentally believe are the evolution of the CSS role. And if you don't want that, that's no problem. But you know, what I'm trying to tell them is then you might not match the new market customer success manager description because that's what this market needs is protect gross retention at all costs. You have to protect your customers, and that requires you to learn new skills.
Ted Blosser: Everyone, I wanna take a quick break from this podcast and ask you for a quick favor. We would love for you to write a review or give us a rating on the podcast app of your choice. Really helps us with discoverability. So thank you for doing that. Also, want to share a little bit more about Work Ramp. Work Ramp is building what we call the Learning Cloud. Learning Cloud is the all-in-one l m s for sales enablement teams, for HR professionals, and customer education teams. Given Kevin is on this podcast right now talking about customer-led growth, wanna talk about our product called the Customer Learning Cloud, which enables you to train your customers and your partners or any external audience to learn how to adopt your solutions even better. So if you wanna learn more, visit email@example.com ramp.com. Now, back to the show. I'm going to zoom out back to customer-led growth as a kind of a macro topic; I actually want to pair up, and obviously, this is a learning podcast, so I want to pair up your views on customer education and its influence on customer-led growth. You, we all know big programs like Trailhead, how Bar Mark Benioff, uh, pioneer that to really build a brand through education around Salesforce. What are your views on education as it pertains to the concept of customer, customer-led growth?
Kevin Chiu: I think education is super key. I mean, Mark Benioff wouldn't have invested as much money, time, and resource in the Trailhead if it wasn't working. I think removing Trailhead aside; it's just how you get your customers to learn the things that you want in a digital world. And just to be very clear, digital customer success isn't a segment strategy. It's not just for SS m B, low a c b; it's a company and business strategy because enterprise CSMs need it for their accounts because they can't physically talk to everybody. Digital and scaled CSS in the many forms that it comes in is required across all components of the business in a world where you have to do more with less, right? Look at the market. Companies were overvalued, they raised too much capital, they're running out of cash, and they're cutting headcount, but the customer base is still the same.
Kevin Chiu: You still have to service them. So you can't apply high-touch one-on-one c s M strategies to everything. And so you absolutely have to, right? And so products, I think, like the one that you're working on, is an incredible solution. One avenue to drive customer education. If people don't understand how to use the mission-critical moments of impact we call in the product; then you are going to lead to churn. Because, you know, you can't just have a CSM educate every decision maker, every potential power champion or adopter in the company. You have to think about all the different digital ways, webinars, customer training, group training, in-app notifications, email, maybe s m s using tools like the one that you're working on, l m s solutions, like you have to do it. Um, and Catalyst is actually doing a lot of those things right now, both in our product both in solutions that we're partnering up with in the market, and we're able to achieve crazy good results. Like, you know, we have a cohort of customers that's self-onboarding themselves in 11 days. They're integrating data from CRM to data warehouse tables, things that we would only do over a call like this. But we're in a world where we can't talk to everybody, and we have to teach them hard concepts through digital channels.
Ted Blosser: Do you have any, 'cause you're, you're posting a lot of great content in a, in essence, if you, if you squint at it, you're doing a lot of education to your market? Do you have any perspective for companies out there on how important that is to educate on the industry category? So in your world, you're educating on CLG versus putting all your eggs into, let's call, product education itself. Like are you a firm believer in category education a little bit more like the HubSpot model as an example?
Kevin Chiu: You have to because people won't believe it otherwise. And you know, so like HubSpot could have built, built the best inbound machine, but if people didn't really believe it, then nothing would matter. And you know, I think HubSpot, I, I don't know exactly their playbook, right? I know it at a high level 'cause they're such a successful company, but they had a lot of successful customers. So there are a lot of ways to get the word out there. There's customer marketing, right? Then there's LinkedIn marketing; then there are all sorts of different avenues to educate the market. I think what's important for us right now is as Catalyst has evolved away from just being more of, you know, just a customer success product. We're a customer growth platform where we're signing six-figure companies, uh, that are rolling us out to 400 people across sales, engineering, account executives, account managers, and CSMs. And that requires a different train of thought. It requires our product to be different. It requires our product to be better, and the content that we're pushing out, whether it's through digital CSS programs or content education or customer marketing or my LinkedIn, kind of my LinkedIn posts that are educational, it has to all tie together as this flywheel. So yeah, absolutely, there's a lot of different ways to do it, but we're, we're finding a lot of joy in the one that we're doing right now.
Ted Blosser: Hey, we're gonna go into the, uh, learn lightning around here in a minute or two, but I want to ask you a question. As you look forward to Catalyst itself, the top two to three parties, you are, you are looking at, and this could be if you want to talk about a product or directionally what you're excited about over the next, let's call it, 12-24 months.
Kevin Chiu: Yeah. You're saying, sorry, they cut out for a second. You said priorities, right?
Ted Blosser: Yeah. Top priorities. Yeah. Like, are there areas of the market you're really excited about all the way to, um, advancements in tech that you're excited about? Really curious to hear about how you're looking at the next one to two years here.
Kevin Chiu: Absolutely. I think the exciting thing that we're working on is it's a, it's a big, big dream, right? And a lot to, a lot to gain if we do, and a lot to lose if we don't, 'cause we're making a bet and it, it will be no secret. We have lots of customers that are not just the CSMs using anymore, and its chief revenue officers, CEOs, are starting to get involved, right? Because everything in the company, whether people like it or not, is a revolving around the customer. And they need a system and tool to be able to understand how to do that. And it's just; it's a different way. It's gonna challenge us to amp up the way we think to think differently and how to have a go-to-market technology that the entire company can use. And it's a hard problem to solve from the product end.
Kevin Chiu: It needs understanding new personas, uh, permission settings, and all these different things that we haven't necessarily cracked. And I also think that the thing that I'm most excited about when I'm working with our VP of product right now is there are a lot of outdated concepts. Like people buy CSS tools for a health score. And what's interesting is I ask any c s m, they don't trust the health score. So what the heck is the point? Do you know? So like you buy the tool for this health score, you spend 12 to 18 months when you're using legacy solutions to get it up and running, and then the C s M logs in to look at the health score. They don't believe it. Then the c e O goes in and is like, what the heck's going on? And it's like, then there's no point in the category. And so I think Catalyst is working on, and I don't wanna spoil it here, but we're working on a lot of innovative solutions to rethink outdated concepts and practices that match the current economic environment.
Ted Blosser: I think you're spot on. And I think when you think about health scores, they, I think I, I don't know, do you feel like got Gainsight pioneered that Who, who pioneered? Just this, like who, who kind of got that wrong? Yeah, like, like, what happened there?
Kevin Chiu: I think Gainsight pioneered a lot of things. Yeah. Now did they pioneer the House score? Who knows? Maybe, yeah, possibly. I give a lot of credit to Nick made. I'm a big fan. Uh, I think Gainsight's done, and Cattle, frankly, the Catalyst wouldn't be here if it weren't for Gainsight. Yeah. Uh, they, they basically invented the first practice and evolution of customer success. I think what Catalyst is doing now is obviously seeing where that takes us to this next level in this economic environment. So I, I don't know who, who invented it. That's a good question.
Ted Blosser: Yeah, I was, I was thinking more about, you're right. It is even, even myself when you think about the category, that is the first thing you think about, but I love how you've changed; changed perspective is that this is all one integrated experience across your company, and you're not just like how Gong changed the whole market of, hey, it's not just conversational, uh, intelligence, it's a whole, uh, a whole revenue intelligence suite. So lo love hearing that. Okay, let's jump into the learn rapid-fire round. This is where we do just a few questions. I'll ask you for one two-line answer for each, all related to learning, um, or things that we can all learn. But what is the first question I'll ask you is, what's one podcast book blog that you're super hot on right now?
Kevin Chiu: Uh, podcast all in's always, always a good one. I mean, it's just so educational, and the video production, everything is just amazing. So big shout out to that team, uh, in terms of a book, not a really good reader. So I read a lot of Blinkist that just gives books in 15 minutes, so, yep. Um, the latest book that I did reread, uh, on Blinkist, was The Hard Thing About Hard Things. I think as a first-time founder, I learned a lot about building a responsible business in a market like this and, you know, Catalyst, we talked the talk for sure and, and we also walked the walk, but there's a lot of things that we didn't know, and we had to learn it just like everybody else in the, in the world. And so, the question is, how fast can you adapt to that? And I think rereading a lot of the concepts in there just helped me prepare and understand that I'm doing the right things because I take this job very seriously. I'm employing a lot of amazing humans, people who have kids, right? And, maybe their kids have kids, or it's, it's a really important thing that I make the right decisions. And if I make the wrong decisions, I take ownership, and I adapt, and we make quick moves because this market's tough. And Catalyst is to survive and thrive like everybody else out there.
Ted Blosser: I feel like you inspired me to go reread my bookshelf down here. But, uh, it's good.
Kevin Chiu: Book for a founder
Ted Blosser: Wrote he wrote that at a time when he was going through so many trials and tribulations and came out on top. Um, I remember the story; I think when his wife, wife was what, having a heart attack or something. She got sick while he was on the, uh, I fear o, roadshow, and just adding it shows how much pressure you could have added on top of all the other things you're dealing with. Alright, next question. If you could learn from one person, that's gonna be someone, alive or dead, who would you wanna learn from?
Kevin Chiu: It's a great question. So many amazing people. I would have to say it would probably be from Mark Beo. I think he is the 800-pound gorilla in customer relationship management, right? So I think Salesforce does an incredible job at building such a successful company and, you know, withstanding all the hardships throughout the decades that they've been around, and they dominate the presale world, right? Every go-to-market organization uses Salesforce to input data for their sales team. I think where Catalyst comes in is we provide more contextual data around the entire customer 360 view, right? The post-sale activities of a CSM purpose bill for account management, customer success, and workflow. And I think there's a lot of synergy in what we're doing, and he's been an idol forever. And you know, I'd love to shake his hand one day.
Ted Blosser: Last question. Where do you think the CSS market will be in three to five years?
Kevin Chiu: I don't think it'll be around. I really don't. I think it'll be a much smaller market, and it'll be almost non-existent because of go-to-market consolidation. I think having siloed markets and siloed technology is not working; otherwise, Gong would've kept doing what they're doing by just having a call recorder. They saw that it was required to have a revenue intelligence platform. Everything from deal tabs to rolling out a signal-based outreach component, right? They're competing directly with Outreach and SalesLoft now, and everybody's gotta do more than just that little piece of the pie. And you know, I'm sure Salesforce is thinking about that. They call themselves the customer success platform, the 360. And I think that when you think about customer success as a silo, you get what we've always gone, which is it is a silo, it becomes a silo, it becomes a dumpster fire for all the things that CSMs are supposed to do. And that's why Catalyst we're repositioning itself; we are a customer growth platform. It's not just the CSMs team to make customers successful. That's where a lot of the thought processes run.
Ted Blosser: I love that. Just listening to, uh, my, my first million, which I just got turned onto the podcast, and he was talking about progressive ambition, how as your co-company grows, you become progressively more ambitious. And it sounds like that's exactly what's happening at Catalyst. I love hearing about that vision.
Kevin Chiu: We're trying.
Ted Blosser: Kevin, thanks so much for being on here today. We learned a ton and got a lot of perspectives on customer-led growth, which I think will be great for our audience. So thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.
Kevin Chiu: Yeah, I really appreciate it; thank you so much for having me. It was a ton of fun.