CRM Reading Lounge: The Essential CRM Guide

Training for Success: This article is an excerpt from our free CRM Essentials ebook series.

Training is not an area where you should even think about cutting corners and reducing costs. Any member of staff who believes they have not had adequate training is a potential threat to the system.

To get the most out of your CRM system, and to get your employees to use the software effectively, you have to make provision to train each person who will use your system. This means that you send them off your premises to have professional training. There are both advantages and disadvantages to off-site training, so let’s deviate a little to examine them in more detail.

It is probably cheaper and more convenient to have the training done on your premises. However, it is also more disruptive, both to the trainer and to the staff undergoing training. What will happen – and it always happens – is that some other staff member will knock on the door to ask someone on the training course a question, or require them to leave the training session to sort out some relatively minor mishap.

If the course were held off your premises, the questions would wait until later, or be resolved by some other person. Most of the time, the issue is neither urgent nor a matter of great importance. So why accept interruptions to on-premise training? We would suggest that it is because nobody takes on-premise training seriously. So, either you have off-premise training, or you have strict rules that govern access to course attendees – and the rules apply to everybody in the organization, from the owners and senior managers to junior clerks and cleaners. No exceptions.

Of course, holding training on your premises makes a lot of sense in that the staff can gain hands-on experience on a copy of your data. This can also help with ironing out little problems in configuration, data integrity and system stability. But be wary of running training courses on-premise too early. You have to be sure that the system has settled down and all the major wobbles have been addressed. Having things go wrong with the system during training can be as disruptive as the inevitable run-of-the-mill interruptions. It’s a tough choice – as waiting for the system to become stable means that staff are not getting trained and the backlog of data waiting to be input on the system becomes larger.

A common mistake with staff training is to send two or three key staff on intensive training and then expect them to train the rest of the staff on how to use the system. This fails for a few reasons.

  • The staff not sent on training are made to feel less valuable and may well become resentful towards the system.
  • The staff entrusted to train the other users may not have the ability, or the patience, to make good teachers.
  • Generally, only twenty per cent of what is covered on a training course is retained by the course attendees. This means the staff entrusted with training their colleagues will only be able to explain 20% of what they learnt with any confidence. Given that the people being trained will only retain 20% of that, the bulk of your staff will end up only knowing 4% of the CRM system.