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CRM User Acceptance and the Importance of Training

by Bill Harrison on November 2, 2009

4 minute read

Today's post is part of my continuing series on CRM User Acceptance. This time we'll look at training and orientation and why they are so important to overall CRM success. It should go without saying that complex new systems should be accompanied by comprehensive user training, but we have found that many companies short-cut new system training. I think there are three reasons for this:

  1. Budgets are tight and companies would rather spend money on CRM features or further customization rather than training.
  2. Timelines to get a new system up and running are short and training is often skipped in an effort to get the system deployed quickly.
  3. Companies are not sure how to train users on CRM. How many training sessions are needed? How should they be structured so that information is retained? Should you have one long training session or several shorter sessions? All are important questions that are difficult to answer for companies without experience deploying CRM.

At W-Systems, we bundle training services with just about every deployment we do. And we are constantly trying to convince customers and prospects to do more training. The truth is, it's hard to train too much. But training is expensive and taking employees away from their regular jobs for software training is inconvenient and costly. So how do you strike a balance?

  • Fist, understand the costs of NOT doing training. Leaving sales reps and other CRM users on their own to learn a new system is a recipe for failure. To realize the full benefit of an investment in any new business system, including CRM, users must embrace and utilize the system every day. Without training, this is unlikely to happen.
  • Second, focus training on the business processes users need to complete, not on the system itself. All too often, training focuses on the technical details of how the new system works rather than the broader issues like which business processes are being automated and why. By giving users some perspective on how the functions they are completing in the CRM system improve business operations and process flow, users will be will learn faster and be more likely to use the system.
  • Third, make training as hands-on and experiential as possible. When possible, conduct training in-person in a classroom setting with each user having her own computer for hands-on exercises. When this is not possible and training must be conducted remotely, break the training into modules and give users assignments between each session so that they are encouraged to start using the system immediately.

W-Systems has developed an archive of CRM training webinars that are designed for users of SugarCRM but would be equally applicable with other CRM systems. You can access the archive here.

One final thought on training for CRM system success. Make training part of your plan right from the beginning of your new CRM system project. Document the business processes being automated using your new CRM system so they can become the basis of your user training. And keep a list of all customizations you make to your CRM system so that the training you deliver is tailored specifically to the needs of your users.

By following these steps, you'll deliver training that is more engaging and that users will willingly attend. And ultimately, that is the key to improving CRM user acceptance through training.