Reinforcing CRM Value With Ongoing Training

by Bill Harrison on February 22, 2010

On Thursday and Friday of last week, I was reminded of the importance of ongoing training to reinforce the value of a CRM deployment.

I was in Denver for two days of SugarCRM training with our client ViaWest. Frankly, I didn't know what to expect. ViaWest has been using SugarCRM for about three years and their system is a fully integrated part of their sales and operations departments. What more could I add that had not already been figured out internally? But ViaWest's new Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Bill Hobstetter (pictured below) realized that the use of the CRM system is critical to his success and the success of the company. And as he talked to employees around the company, he found that there was still lots of inconsistency in the use of the tool.

So I spent two days in front of the sales groups at headquarters in Denver while the remote ViaWest sites were linked in via video conference. The sessions were tremendously productive. We went through all of the major processes that sales and sales support staff manage using the CRM. I took questions throughout and clarified many of the inconsistencies. It turned out that most folks knew how to use the system, but they lacked knowledge of the overall processes being completed, so their methods of getting things done were all over the board. Here are my takeaways from the training sessions:

  • Executive buy-in and support is critical. The primary reason that everyone showed-up and participated for two days of training is because Bill Hobstetter and Steve Prather, Senior Vice President of Sales Operations, reinforced its importance.
  • Data quality requires discipline. Getting high-quality data from a CRM system that can be used to make management decisions requires that everyone use the system consistently.
  • Its all about the process. Understanding, documenting, and training on the business processes being automated using a CRM is the key to success. Too much training focuses on the mechanics of using the system. The better approach is to train on the process first and then show users how to automate that process using CRM as a tool.
  • Web conferences are great, but there is nothing better than quality face time with a key customer!

A big thanks to the ViaWest team for hosting me on Thursday and Friday. Do you have thoughts and ideas on how to make CRM training more effective? Please share them here.

Bill Hobstetter, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ViaWest
Bill Hobstetter, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ViaWest

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Bill Harrison
VP of Products and Technology at W-Systems
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