5 Top CRM Training Tips

You’ve designed a user friendly interface, automated as many processes as possible, tested the system to destruction and told everyone its on its way. Now its time to train the users. Here’s 5 tips to help you deliver your session.

  1. The culture of using CRM

Using CRM is different to your standard system where you may add a note covering your tracks and explaining what you’ve done. You may then send an email to a group of 20 people just to make sure everyone knows what’s happened. Then, it’s fingers crossed the right actions being taken. With CRM, you need to deal with things a little differently, for example you may categorise the contact;

  • What was it about?
  • How did it come in?
  • Can I deal with the issues?
  • Should I send something to a colleague to follow up?
  • If so, which team/individual…and what do they need to do?

The 2nd option may seem more long-winded but, it;

  • Allows you to effectively handle any follow up contact you have with that customer
  • Identify how, why and when customers contact you
  • Influences how you develop your CRM system moving forward
  • Provides some great data that can influence how you structure other digital platforms such as your website or portal.

Helping users understand this can be tricky. It’s a good idea to explain the benefits to them as an individual so they appreciate how this new way of working is going to help them.

2. Fail to plan, plan to fail

Develop a lesson plan to ensure you deliver a consistent message to all users. Keep this flexible as new learners may ask unexpected questions which can shape future lesson plans and tailor it to the team you’re training. Introduce real world scenarios to help colleagues understand how this new way of working will benefit them personally and make their lives easier.

3. Get your style right

Understanding different learning styles helps you prepare a detailed lesson plan with clear outcomes and a suite of materials which cater for all the students. As well as the main training session, provide refresher training and easily accessible quick guides to help colleagues gain a deeper understanding of the system

There are thousands of websites dedicated to learning styles (and I’ve visited many of them). Neil Fleming‘s VARK model is one of my favourites

Learning style Description How to tailor your training
Visual Prefer to see/watch Use visual aids which represent how CRM should be used. Demonstrate the product.
Auditory Learn best through listening Discuss how the product will be used, have conversations about any challenges they may face
Read/write Allow time for these users to write instructions and provide written guides
Kinesthetic prefer to learn via experience — moving, touching, and doing Allow users to play with CRM, a more practical lesson.

Update: This traditional way of identify how people learn is being challenged. The British Council Blog Four reasons to avoid ‘learning styles’ – and one alternative, by Carol Lethaby suggests there’s a wealth of evidence-based teaching approaches that we are not exploiting. Using learners’ prior knowledge to help them learn new things is one such approach. What the learner knows already has a strong effect on how well they will learn new information. There is even evidence that a particular part of the brain is activated when we connect old and new information.

The connection between prior knowledge and the way the brain works is a new area of research, but the implications are clear. Finding out what learners know already – and helping them to make connections between that and new information – is a great way to help them learn.

Listening to what learners want and taking note of this in teaching is useful too. That’s not because it’s related to learning styles, but because of the learners’ previous knowledge – we’re interested in what we already know about. This in turn helps us learn new things about the topic.

Whatever method you use remain flexible and adapt to the needs to the users

4. A material world

You’re work up to this point will have identified how colleagues will use the system. Work hard to make it easy for them to get to grips with how they’ll use it. You can produce webinars, quick guides, YouTube videos etc. when you roll out updates or start using new functions.

5. Location, location, location

Make every effort to carry out training sessions away from the user’s desk. This helps them engage and understand what they’ll be doing. I’d suggest no more than 6 colleagues in each session. Sessions can run for 2 hours giving everyone the chance to discuss the process they follow and ask questions.

It’s also worth involving other teams who iinteract with the team you’re developing for. You may need to provide some light touch training or just make sure they understand the whole process.

Need help with your training sessions. How about letting us produce some CRM HIT Sessions to help learners after you’ve gone live?


Want to Avoid A Painful CRM Project Post Mortem?

Prevention is better than cure, so why wait until its all gone Pete Tong (wrong) before taking action? A project post mortem is carried out after the event when the damage has been done, we may sometimes take that learning into the next piece of work/project or, as in many cases, the paperwork gets put away and never looked at again….

So what’s the alternative? A Pre Mortem. This process happens at the very start of the project and should include as many key stakeholders as possible.

When they’re all in the room the project manager briefs the team on the CRM plan and asks them to imagine its failed like no other project they’ve ever been involved with.

Over the next 5 minutes each team member writes:

  • All the reasons they feel it could have failed
  • What preventative action could have been taken

This information is gold dust. The fact that its gained at the start of the project means that team members are more relaxed with sharing concerns than in the middle of a disaster or at the end of a project that’s gone horribly wrong. It also helps the project manager strengthen the project in a number of ways including:

  • Identifying risks early
  • Ensuring the correct project team members are in place
  • Ensuring the correct project elements are developed/tested
  • Setting realistic timescales
  • Adding the correct tasks to the project plan

This video, The Pre-mortem Technique – The Trick To Avoiding Project Failure provides more detail about this powerful tool that should be used at the start of every project and even when you’re looking to start something big in your personal life.

Harvard Business Review have also done a great article on the subject

Harvard Business Review, Performing a Project Premortem, by Gary Klein 

CALL TO ACTION!! Add a Pre Mortem to your next project. Remember prevention is better than cure.



14 Tips to Support Your CRM Go Live

I’ve put together a few tips to help go live run smoothly. It can be a daunting time, but if you start planning early you’ll keep everyone in the loop and manage any weird  and wonderful things that happen on the big day.

  1. When will you go live? Be realistic, you don’t want to be testing the product the day before you hit the button. If there’s time constraints then manage how you roll out CRM. Going live with 1000 users across 20 departments may be a bit ambitious.
  2. Who will go live? Establish this early and put an appointment in their calendar.
  3. What will they go live with? How will they use CRM, what functionality will they use and how will they interact with teams who don’t have access? They’ll need to know if they should use other systems for part of their process or will legacy systems disappear from day one?
  4. How will they get help? On the day, the first week/month etc. Think long term. Having a variety of ways to get support will help users. You could use YouTube videos, Word quick guides or super users. This variety will also help people with different learning styles
  5. How will you manage problems? I’d suggest adding these to an issues log and review it at the end of each day. Things that seem big problems in the moment often aren’t that bad. On the flip side if something serious does happen people need to know what action to take there and then.
  6. Put together a go live team. The team should be made up of project team members, the team going live and others who are impacted. IT and (depending on cost) your supplier will provide technical cover. This team will have a good understanding of CRM from the start and be able to manage any issues the users experience. These often range from knowing where to click to dealing with error messages.
  7. Develop a go live support plan. Work with the team to agree on the best way to manage user issues. Grade them from low (we’ll deal with that when the dust settles) to medium to high (pull the plug it’s all gone Pete tong). Doing this will give the team clarity on what’s expected. Put the plan place for the first week of go live
  8. Get the message out there. Tell users CRM is on the way and how they’ll get extra help (this makes the assumption users have been trained).

The big day – avoid Monday 

  1. On the day. The project lead should be visible but not dealing with all the little issues. You’ll need to look at the bigger picture to make sure everything is running smoothly
  2. Set up conference calls between the go live team. One in the morning, after lunch and at the end of the day to keep on top of issues and to let them know about any ongoing issues.
  3. Set up a Skype or Whatsapp group. This helps the lead manage issues and gives the team the opportunity to help each other, especially if they’re on different sites.
  4. Let people know how it’s gone. This goes for the team on the day, new users and senior managers.
  5. Have a drink and repeat 9 to 12 for the rest of the week.
  6. Finally give yourself a pat on the back. Getting CRM off the ground is hard work.

Now you’re live the fun really starts. Enjoy!!