Top Tips for CRM trainers – Jeff Richards offers advice from his years on the job

3 minute read time.

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.  My colleague, Jeff Richards, offered up ideas from his experience in developing & delivering training programs. Here are his top 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 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 – making their work more enjoyable and less hassle. Adults learn best when they want to learn and can see that information given is directly relevant to those needs.

2. Training does not start and end in the classroom

Students need plenty of notice about the upcoming training.  Make sure that you share information about the new CRM tool & the training course. Consider sending everyone links to videos that show the new CRM tool in action. Design course outlines around the roles of attendees, so they are clear why they are attending the training. After training, send out more links to material to remind the students how the features covered in training operate & the benefits they bring.

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

Training sessions should include exercises that allow students to teach themselves. Be sure to highlight learning resources that are both embedded (coaching screens, videos & contextual help) and external (community forums, blogs, etc.) 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

Allow your students to apply their new skills as soon as possible.  If students have a chance to immediately use a practical skill and gain experience, it allows these new skills to be reinforced and embedded.

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

Get students to think about how the new tool differs from their previous way of working. Allow them 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

Encourage conversations that allow students to reflect on the learnings, what it will mean for their work & how the experience of their customer is likely to change.  As they discover insights into benefits, they will become more committed learners.

Jeff typically puts discussion questions like:

  • What causes you the most hassle in your old way of working?
  • In your old way of working, how did you avoid mistakes?
  • What three things would make your work life easier?

7. Design practical exercises based on the way business works

Students will need to see how a tool in training matches the way in which they will use it after training. This means real life business scenarios, meaningful data & useful outcomes that students can apply to their day job.

8. Be explicit about core skills students are learning

Sessions should be in small sections - - for each section, lay out what will be learnt & then remind them what they have learned at the end. Always check with students on how they could apply each section’s learning to their day-to-day work.

9. Challenge your students but don’t patronize them

Training should be clear and unambiguous so students do not get confused or frustrated. Training in CRM should be a place where students can safely rehearse solving the problems they may face in real life.

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. Yet others only learn when their hands are on the keyboard working.  Be prepared & aim to use broad learning methods were possible.

In conclusion

Try and include as many ways of introducing features. 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 tips are based on Jeff’s many years of experience & understanding of the principles of Adult Learning and Learning Style theory.