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Top 10 tips for CRM trainers – Get more from your next class now

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If you are implementing a new CRM tool, then you will want the best from your investment. A CRM tool isn't just about software; it’s about the people that use it and the attitude and culture of the business within which it operates.

Well trained, knowledgeable staff are key to getting the most from any CRM implementation.  

Here are 10 tips that could help you plan your next training session:

1. Train your staff on what they want to learn and not what you want to teach them

Nobody likes to be stuck in a training room being "talked at" about new features and processes which don't seem related to their day-to-day job.

Most people want to know how to make their lives easier and to make their work more enjoyable and less hassle. Adults learn best when they want to learn and can see that the information they are given is directly relevant to their lives.

2. Training does not start and end in the classroom

You will need to give your students plenty of notice about the upcoming training.  Make sure that you share information about the new CRM tool and your training course. Consider sending everyone links to videos that show the new CRM tool in action, so that your class doesn’t come as a shock.

Design your course outline around the roles of attendees, so that they are clear why they are attending the training. Make sure everyone attending training is given the opportunity to understand what is in it for them. After training, send out links to videos that remind the students how the features covered in training work.

3. Remember the job of the trainer is to allow adults to learn

Your training session should include exercises that allow new CRM users to teach themselves about the software. Any training you deliver should cover other learning resources that are both embedded into the software like coaching screens, quick videos and contextual help and external resources like community forums and blogs. Adult learners want to feel that they will be able to answer their questions after the training finishes.

4. Keep your training sessions as short as possible

You will need to allow your students to apply their new skills as soon as possible.  A training session run in the morning will allow staff to use those skills in the afternoon. If students have a chance to immediately use a practical skill and gain experience, it allows these new skills to be reinforced and embedded.

So don't run an all-day class on a Friday in case your students forget information over the weekend.

5. Training needs to build on your students' existing skills and knowledge

Try to find out as much as possible about your students experience of using software and their knowledge of the way in which the business works. Get them to think about how the new tool differs from their previous way of working.

Allow students to see how their knowledge of a former CRM tool can be transferred, even if the terminology of the new programme is different.

6. Try to lead your students towards considering CRM

At breaks in the training day encourage conversations that allow the students to reflect on the CRM tool and what it will mean for their work and how the experience of their customer is likely to change.  As they discover insights into the benefits of the new CRM tool they will become more committed learners.

I typically ask discussion questions like:

  • What causes you the most hassle in your old way of working?
  • In your old tool, how did you make sure wrong information didn't lead to mistakes?
  • When do you need to check information about a customer?
  • What three things would make your work life easier?
  • How will the customer benefit from the new tool?

7. Design practical exercises based on the way business works

Your students will need to see how the use of the CRM software in training matches the way in which they will use it after training. This means the business rules, screen captions and workflow in the training CRM tool needs to be the same as those in the live CRM tool.

The training data used in exercises should reflect real world data, and the scenarios and case studies used should be realistic.

8. Be explicit about core skills students are learning

Break you sessions into small sections and for each section tell them what they will learn and then at the end remind them what they have learned. Keep asking your students how this can be applied to their day-to-day work.

Think about how you can measure that they are learning.

9. Challenge your students but don’t patronize them

Training instructions should be clear and unambiguous so students do not get confused or frustrated. For more complex tasks, support your students with links to coaching videos and help files. Training in CRM should be like 'playing' where people can safely rehearse solving the problems that they may face in real life.

For example, in Sage CRM, you can make sophisticated searches to create a group of customers.

The group can then be used for email marketing or for creating a call list. I typically start by creating a simple group of customers based on where they live, then go on to create a list based on what people have bought.

Further exercises could look at answering more complicated questions such as which customers have not been contacted in the last three months. Each task is harder than the last, but the student can solve them because they have been taught to solve the challenge by breaking it down into smaller steps.

10. Everyone is different and learns differently

Some people like to be shown how to do something, and they find it easier to understand a new feature by seeing it work. Other people like to be given spoken instructions because it matches up with the prompts they may see on screen. And, others only learn when their hands are on the keyboard working.

And finally...

Try and include as many ways of introducing each CRM feature. Show people by demonstrating the feature, then explain it and ask them to do an exercise. Allow people to talk about what they are doing. Do not be afraid of chatter and laughter in the training session.

These ten tips are based on my experience and my understanding of the principles of Adult Learning and Learning Style theory. I hope this has been useful.

If you enjoyed this post, don't forget to watch our SlideShare

If you have any questions about running a training course, please contact me at @SageCRMSolution.

And if you're about to attend a training course as a student, you can read my blog post about 7 ways you can prepare for your next training course.