How to Plan CRM Training & Avoid These Frequent Mistakes

CRM success is dependent on how well people use the technology but what do you need to make sure that CRM training translates into bankable results?

Investment in user training is the most frequent area that is prone to more misjudgement than any other project element as leaders often tend to under-estimate these needs.

Inefficient, or non-existent CRM training plans, all too often result in weak user adoption despite significant investments in other areas.

Our team have a wealth of experience gained from helping Microsoft Dynamics 365 users get started and do more with the application so we've shared our top recommendations for running productive CRM training courses that will help to drive early success.

Define success criteria and set training expectations

Before the session confirm your training aims, share them with your team to gain shared commitment for follow through and achieving these aims.

Consider incentives that will increase the motivation of your team to put learning points into action. This could involve gamifying certain elements of their usage, for example who has logged the most time or sales lead this week, who has contributed the most knowledge posts and other role related metrics.

Assess the skills gap

For new CRM implementation most individuals will have the same learning requirement but if you want to kick start an existing project carry out a skills audit to see where everyone is.

If you have a mix of competency levels you’ll want avoid grouping all users together in a 'one size fits all' course.

Send out some questions to find out exactly where each employee is on the scale and use this to put them into similar skill groups.

To increase relevance, consider splitting training into separate modules and assign users accordingly. This could involve different groups in morning and afternoon sessions, or tuition spread over several days.

For individuals with specific requirements one to one tuition will often prove to be the best option.

Don’t leave training too late

There is a good case for allowing new users to have the opportunity of testing out the new CRM system before training.

A few days can be useful to allow them to familiarise themselves with the basics but if training is delayed there’s a risk that everyone will go off in different directions with resulting chaos. 

Bad user habits can also be quickly ingrained in the absence of early training so we recommend that CRM training is carried out within the first week or two following implementation.

Training environment

Tuition will never be effective if users are distracted by emails, phone calls or office chatter.

It may sound obvious but do not attempt to arrange training on the shop floor. For a more conducive training environment, book a room away competing noise and if necessary consider an off-site course.

Check the IT

If you’re using a meeting room or working off-site check to make sure everyone will have access to a network connection or WiFi and any other resources that will be needed.

Individual computers

Allowing delegates to follow tutor-led worked examples is always more effective than just watching a trainer or sharing laptops.

We recommend that each person attending has their own computer with access to a non-production version of your CRM database so they can test the learning points covered.

Use your own data

Tuition is always more relevant if everyone can apply learning points in the context of your customised database.

Group sizes

We find the optimal size of a training group is 5-6 people.

Any more and there’s a risk that user questions and chat will slow pace of the day restricting the depth of content covered.

Speak to the trainer in advance

Our trainers will seek to speak to clients prior to training to make sure they are clear about our their learning ojectives so they can prepare accordingly.

Make time for a pre-training call as this is an ideal opportunity to collectively agree a structure for the course, discuss any concerns or challenges, and make sure that all parties are clear about what outcomes are desired. 

Ultimately, this call will help your trainer prepare for the day and make best use of their time from the start of the session.

Confirm the key CRM processes

If you are getting started with a new system, one of your key aims will likely be to use this technology to improve the efficiency of your processes workflows, perhaps by reducing a reliance on manual tasks.

But don’t let this overlap your training sessions. Database design and workflow planning should be already have been discussed, executed and tested before training otherwise your sessions risk descending into a chaotic ‘free for all’.

Your original CRM implementation should already have these processes built in. If not, you'll need to take a step back.

Even with these processes mapped out in your system, users may present new ideas and requests for changed on how this has been configured. This can prove a double-edged sword. On one hand, you need to gain user acceptance but you also need to guard against the project being blown off course or hijacked by ideas that don’t consider the bigger picture and will dilute CRM effectiveness.

It’s a good idea to have a whiteboard handy that can act as a ‘car park’ for new ideas and questions that crop up but aren’t directly related to the immediate training session.

If people know you’ll follow up their points away from the session they’ll be more happy to move on they understand their ideas have been listed.

CRM trainers are an invaluable impartial resource in this situation.

They work with projects every day so know what works and what doesn’t. Use their insight to crystallize your process detail and decide if user suggestions are justified or stand firm and gain group commitment to the plan.

Display strong management support for CRM

Following on from the above, some users may use training as a forum to push back on anything that impacts on their world and build resistance among colleagues against change.

Pre-empt this by having the session opened by a senior project sponsor to reinforce executive commitment to CRM. A good way of demonstrating this is to stress that key performance indicators will only be based on CRM data. This is best reflected in team meetings that focus on what has been input in CRM and take the view that if it isn't is CRM, it doesn't exist for recognition / reward purposes.

Q&A

Always remember to leave time at the end of the day to ask users for questions to make sure that they’re fully on board with all the key points.

Takeaways

Create a tips sheet, send an email or even pin up step-by-step instructions so learning points have lasting visibility beyond the training session.

CRM Go Live Help

The crucial milestone in your CRM project is Go Live day. It’s the day that user acceptance is on the line.

As they start using the live system, users may encounter issues and will have questions that didn’t crop up in training. It’s essential that a trainer, or project sponsor is on hand to floor walk to seal the deal and quickly resolve any points as they occur. As an implementation partner, Preact provide on-site and / or remote assistance for project Go Live's to make sure any issues are switfly resolved.

Training Review

Plan and measure the results to assess how well you’re doing to make a comparison with your success criteria. 

Immediately after training it's useful to schedule a meeting a week or two later to get everyone together to share experiences, identify issues, collect ideas and if necessary take corrective action.

Often, an effective way to run this session will be to ask each person to share their biggest CRM learning and their most significant achievement in using the system.

Using Dynamics 365 there are numerous dashboards and other metrics that will help project leads and administrators monitor usage to understand which people are engaging with the system, and who might need help.

INFOGRAPHIC: How To Prepare For Your Dynamics 365 Training


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