We suppose you're here because you are evaluating Gainsight and Totango.

In that case, I assume either you are leading a customer success (CS) team, or one of your key goals is to improve net revenue retention and reduce customer churn at a fast-growing B2B organization.

First of all, you're already doing the right thing by looking for a solution that will help your CS team's performance.

Going by the G2 customer success software grid, both Gainsight and Totango are in the 'Leaders' category. So, how do you decide which one to go for?

The key place to start is—have a strong understanding of your organization’s maturity stage. You need to know the revenue contribution by customers, i.e., who are your high-paying customers, how many of your customers are high-touch accounts, and more.

It’s an exercise that needs to be typically done among your CEO and CS leadership in collaboration with the entire CS team. And that in turn will help you determine the features you may want to look for.

For instance, here’s an example of how to categorize customers and thereby prioritize the features you want in a CS software:

To keep the discussion focused, in this blog post, we will be objectively comparing Gainsight and Totango—and give you our neutral perspective on which solution you should go for based on your requirements.

The key difference between Gainsight and Totango

Gainsight lets you define the measure of customer health

The fundamental difference between Gainsight and Totango is—Gainsight strongly believes that product usage isn't always the most important indicator contributing to churn and renewals.

The standout feature of Gainsight is its Customer Health Score—which gives each customer a score depending on their satisfaction level. Equipped with machine learning capabilities, this tool feeds past customer data and behavior to make accurate predictions.

The best part is—Gainsight offers its customers choices when it comes to measuring customer health.

As a customer success leader, if you want to measure customer health based on real-time usage alone, Gainsight allows you to do that. Similarly, if you want to include survey results, invoice history, support history, etc, in your scoring model—the platform is flexible to let you add that too.

If more than just real-time usage data is desired, you can extract multiple kinds of health-related data, including support tickets, product usage, survey results, NPS ratings, billing, and more, making Gainsight more appealing to enterprise organizations.

- Dan Steinman, Chief Evangelist at Gainsight

To sum up, though Gainsight offers dashboards for product usage, it recommends you to consider other factors that contribute to customer health such as:

(a) How often do customers reach out to support?

(b) Are your current customers making referrals?

(c) Are your customers actively involved in your community?

(d) How does the billing history look, and more.

Gainsight is very clearly positioned for mature SaaS companies with needs that are vastly different from that of early-stage startups.👌

Totango focuses on product adoption

Totango is built on the idea that the biggest contributor to churn is poor product adoption. The philosophy behind the approach is to tell you which customer needs your attention and why.

Therefore the focus of the platform is on identifying and monitoring leading indicators that help SaaS companies predict at-risk customers and proactively drive positive customer experiences.

Looking at support tickets and other such metrics is important but they can’t predict churn. For instance, you could have a customer with no tickets either because they are totally disengaged or because they’re very happy.

- Omer Gotlieb, SVP Business Development & Co-Founder, Totango

Totango drives customer engagement across every touchpoint by helping you proactively engage with customers to improve evaluation, streamline onboarding, drive product adoption, improve renewal rates, and thus, revenue growth. Automated workflows in Totango offer a visual representation of customer relationship hierarchies for rich insights.

Based on its customer reviews, it looks like Totango’s core strength is—how it operationalizes usage data. It helps in two key areas:  

(a) It eliminates the need for manual data upload thereby saving time, resources, and potential manual errors.

(b) It provides high-fidelity signals that help you identify the most highly engaged customers out-of-the box without the need for your CS group to depend on the engineering team for deeper customizations.

Takeaway: Totango helps you drive customer success and engage with your customer base in a scalable yet contextual and relevant manner. 👌

Choosing between Gainsight and Totango

When you are evaluating between two or more SaaS products, it’s best to slice and dice your comparison from 4 critical lenses:

Key factors for evaluation

1. Ease of use

The ease of using a customer success platform is an essential factor to consider since it will make or break the platform's adoption among your CS team.

Questions to ask:
  • How hard or easy is it to set up and implement the CS software?
  • Do you need a dedicated manager to administer the tool?
  • Can you trial the platform yourself with some automated nurture assisting you?
  • Will the users need training to start using the tool effectively?

2. Product capabilities

If the CS software’s UX gets a passing grade, the next evaluation criteria should be the range of features and benefits it offers.

Questions to ask:
  • How comprehensive is the platform in terms of allowing flexibility based on various customer success goals and approaches?
  • What integrations does it support?
  • Do they support the integrations natively or via some third party API connectors?
  • Are its functionalities out-of-the-box or customizable?

3. Pricing

Pricing is an important area to explore considering your team size, budget, and the net retention revenue goals you expect to achieve as a result of leveraging the CS platform.

Questions to ask:
  • Does the CS tool offer a free trial or freemium subscription model?
  • Is the pricing affordable, flexible, and fair for your business use cases?
  • Does it have flexible monthly billing options or does it force you to sign annual contracts?
  • Are there any hidden costs?

4. Scalability

When you're buying a piece of software, you're not just buying to solve your pressing needs today but also looking to use it for your future needs.

Questions to ask:
  • How easy and affordable is it to add more users to the platform?
  • Does it offer enterprise-level features?
  • Can the platform support you across the growth and maturity phases?

Comparing Gainsight and Totango

The TL;DR version

1. Ease of use

Gainsight

Both Gainsight and Totango are rated highly by their customers. Since both are market leaders with thousands of customers, they have many reviews on G2 platform. If you look at their side-by-side comparison on G2, despite 861 reviews and an overall rating of 4.4/5, ease-of-use doesn’t necessarily seem to be their strongest suite.

Totango

Totango is not too far in terms of ratings with 4.3/5 stars out of 549 reviews. However, between them and Gainsight, Totango is objectively rated higher for their UI and UX, and their simplicity.

2. Product capabilities

Gainsight’s approach

Gainsight looks at customer health as a holistic indicator, which is a result of several factors such as product adoption, number of support cases raised during a given period, referrals coming from your existing customers, and more.

The fundamental understanding is—when you’re a small organization, product adoption and usage metrics are probably the biggest indicators of customer health. But talking to VPs of Customer Success at fairly large enterprises, we often hear that usage metrics hardly give you the entire picture of customer health.

Here’s what Gainsight for Customer Success looks like:

With features like Scorecards, Customer 360 and Timeline—you get a complete overview of your customer health (not just in terms of product usage, but also in terms of the number of interactions, bill payments, referrals, community participation, etc) and can set up a workflow to drive the right action at the right moments across the customer success pipeline.

These pipelines can be used in order to understand exactly where a customer is in the process of being supported by a CS person, and the next course of action. Also for a CS leader, this pipeline visibility is very helpful for internal reviews and to discuss how best to operationalize customer success in the most efficient and effective way.

Totango’s approach

Unlike Gainsight, Totango’s core philosophy is based on product adoption and the platform acts as an early warning system for CSMs and the CS team at large when a specific customer health metric drops.

Though adoption is at the core, Totango doesn’t ignore the various factors leading to churn. Though their messaging is simpler compared to Gainsight, they allow you to comprehensively configure health score models based on multiple factors, segment customers by stages, account size, etc. For instance, you can set segments for customers in the onboarding stage, as well as SMB vs enterprise ones.

Here’s an overview of what Totango offers:

Totango offers you a good mix of ‘insights at the user adoption level’ as well as ‘trends at the account/organization level.’ What this means is that you will have a good understanding of who are your power users within an account, as well as a broader understanding of which verticals or customer segments are the best fit for your product.

The platform also offers workflow automation and helps execute success plays so that your CSMs take the right course of action at the right times for each account.

To sum up, Totango offers a good mix of features that helps CSMs in their day-to-day operations, as well as CS leaders to manage their teams and progress towards their goals.

3. Pricing

Gainsight’s pricing

When you visit Gainsight’s website—you won't see pricing right off the bat. So, if you want to trial their platform or want a demo, you need to go through a typical enterprise-style form where you will be BANT qualified by an SDR before you even get a glimpse of the product. And it's not necessarily a bad thing.

On an average, if you were integrating with one or two key platforms with minimal customization, it looks like you will be spending $2500/user/month. Ideally suited for enterprises and upper mid-market.

Totango’s pricing

If you’re in the SMB or mid-market segment, Totango’s pricing appears to be more flexible— allowing you to crawl, walk, and then run. They allow you to start with a free community plan. You can start using Totango at $199/month for 2 users and 200 accounts.

4. Scalability

Gainsight—scalability maybe subject to affordability

From the scale point of view, users of Gainsight say that it makes the task of managing multiple systems easier—both from an admin perspective, and the user perspective.

To create scoring and action plans for ‘customer health’ Gainsight can get data input from multiple sources. And since it is native to Salesforce, their significant advantage is—Gainsight can keep its data behind Salesforce’s firewall, which is a huge plus in terms of security making them a preferred choice for larger enterprise customers wanting to go the extra mile for security.

While the customers of Gainsight have great things to say about the platform, the only downside is—the pricing is not transparently available on the website like Totango.

Therefore at the outset, it's not very clear if you can crawl, walk, and run in terms of moving from a low-tier plan to a high-tier plan—based on your CS maturity curve

Totango—scalable and affordable

Totango is scalable too, but the edge it gives you over Gainsight is—flexibility in pricing. Very much like in the case of Gainsight, Totango also integrates with major platforms like Salesforce, Marketo, Zendesk, etc. and the best part is that you can easily get it up and running at any stage of your customer journey and scale up as required.

Final verdict

If you are at a point where you are seriously considering investmenting in a customer success software—between Gainsight and Totango, the choice isn’t straightforward. Both Gainsight and Totango are great tools. The sheer number of customers and the ratings they have across review platforms is a testimony to that.

Especially, if you are in SaaS, the insight these tools provide will be absolutely core to your business. Therefore, though it won’t be a small investment, it’s worth getting it right and getting it as early as possible. So, which one do you go for?

Here’s our view:

1. It boils down to your core philosophy. At the core, if you believe that the most important aspect of your business is understanding and driving customer behavior—go for Totango. It’s quick to set up and probably the right option if you’re an early stage startup or a midsize company. They also have a lot of marquee enterprise customers, so obviously scaling won’t be a problem.

2. On the other hand, if you strongly believe that your CSM team needs to account for factors more than product adoption, and are primarily reliant on Salesforce—Gainsight could be your choice. You’ll appreciate its native integration with Salesforce, workflow pipelines, and ability to get data from multiple sources, especially if you’re an enterprise with 500+ customers.

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