The two most overlooked parts of a CRM implementation, above all others, are documentation & training. Funnily enough, those are also some of the most crucial factors when it comes to guaranteeing long-term success and utility.
In our previous articles, (Part I & Part II), we covered how to prepare your organization for the technology and how to prepare that tech for the organization. Now we’ll cover how to build a framework to teach your team to use these tools.
We’ve done a ton of these implementations at Central Metric and training is consistently where the plot is lost. All of that investment and time means nothing if your team can’t use the new tech. Miscommunication and misaligned expectations at this stage can lead to confusion and inefficiencies. Training minimizes misalignments.
It is understandable that busy professionals don’t want to sacrifice an entire day for CRM training and that Executives prefer to work only with the high-level information on a dashboard. However, spending time reviewing how this software will work for each function will prevent future headaches. Not everyone has to be a Salesforce Superstar with a robust Trailhead Account. But everyone will interact with the CRM in their own way. Teach them how to do so effectively.
The organizational stakeholders we are going to address here are: Executives/Managers, Administrators, and Representatives. These are broad functional groups that can be fulfilled by whole teams in large enterprises or one person in a growing startup. Read on, and decide how you fit in.
Executives and Managers are too busy for the minutiae of your CRM. They have many functions to oversee, and at the end of the day, they just want their reports. This makes sense. They’re trying to keep the lights on! That being said, at some point, these leaders always have trouble understanding how to manipulate those same reports to measure company health and performance. Many assume they do not need training after the CRM has been implemented, but then try (and fail) to customize the parts of the system most relevant to them. Every CRM consultant has had an Executive client or two who skipped the training, and then began reaching out almost hourly for small changes. Choose to empower your Executives from the start with the knowledge they need to manage their reports.
Leaders can absolutely have a limited account if they want to. They don’t need a system admin account or any of the complexities that come with it. They won’t be updating fields, layouts, user permissions, or automations. Limited accounts can usually fulfill their needs, and training someone to use a limited account makes your job that much easier! At the very least, teach them what issues they can solve on their own, and which ones will require help from your administrator. Senior management will be more than happy with limited accounts if they have easy access to the reports they need and the ability to manipulate that data to answer more questions.
Middle management will also need further training compared to Executives with regard to keeping daily tabs on their team of representatives. They need transparency into the data entry process by their reps to ensure accuracy is achieved, as well as reporting on activities and outcomes at the individual level. Training your Management and Executives on the CRM will take time, but pays off in saved time (and stress) over the long run.
In this context, consider administrators as your CRM experts. That may be difficult considering the many functions they work with, and all of the other systems they are likely owning. So, you will have to invest in your admins and give them ownership of the tech stack. I’ll say it one more time in case you skipped that part: Invest. In. Your. Admins.
What does that investment look like in real life? It can take many forms. From sponsoring your Sales Ops Manager’s Salesforce Certification, to sending your Marketing Manager to a HubSpot conference, to paying for a consultant to serve as that admin. Your mission is to find or build an internal or external resource that has a high level of expertise within the platforms you're using. That expertise will pay off in increased rep productivity, data transparency, educated decision-making, and a long-term vision for your RevOps org. You won’t get much of that from someone who’s just cobbling together their first sales funnel. So, please. Invest in that expertise. Your team (and board) will thank you. If you don’t want to pay for training and wait for an internal resource to level up, then consider outsourcing this to qualified consultants.
One of the most common issues we see with CRM implementations among sales reps is low user adoption. You can have the best race car in the world, but if your drivers don’t know or don’t care to use that vehicle properly, you’ll still finish in last place. At this point, we’ve come to accept that the industry norm is to NOT hold comprehensive training for reps. Most companies take a ‘learn by doing’ approach, which we do not advise. Or, they will put a senior rep in charge of helping troubleshoot issues for other reps. Also, not advised. Your reps should be empowered to sell, and a clear process with the right training, documentation, and follow up is the best way to make that happen.
Take a day to train your reps on everything they need to know about their sales stack. Take more than a day, if you need, and have your Admins follow up with open office hours to keep everyone on track. The reps are the base of your pyramid. If they don’t follow process, Admins can’t build accurate reports, and Execs can’t make data-driven decisions. You need a high level of process adoption to succeed.
When training, listen to rep feedback. If a part of your process sounds good on paper, but encounters friction from your reps, explore that step of the process and try to find a resolution. If you think of your sales process as a software product, your sales reps are your customers. Keep them happy and your revenue will go up.
To that end, it is incredibly important for your Managers & Admins to document a Standard Operating Procedure for the reps. Why? So that a replicable process of activity and clean data entry is achieved. So that reps are prepared for their weekly pipeline review with managers. Don’t be afraid to tie monetary incentives to data cleanliness or entry. It is quite common for data errors to occur during the middle of hectic days. Salespeople are driven by money.
Training & Culture
We couldn’t close out this article without touching on cultural adoption. It is intangible yet critically important for a successful CRM rollout. If the perception at the top is that the CRM is a nuisance or not that important, the message will be sent down whether intended or not. Same with influential members on a sales or admin team.
If the culture of the company values the CRM and pledges to leverage it as an important tool, it will become part of the culture. If the CRM was just forced in by a decision maker but the rest of the team does not value it, it could become a waste of time and money for the company. Remember the Vodafone example from Part II? Well, that report singled out Employee Training as one of the areas that Vodafone could’ve handled differently. Here’s a direct quote:
“The best CRM system in the world will have no value if your employees are not willing and empowered to help your customers.”
The report then mentions that Vodafone went on to increase their investment in training by £30m and 190,000 hours. That investment led to “a 50% reduction in complaint volumes and a significant improvement in its net promoter score.”
In closing, comprehensive training, cultural acceptance, and a sound change management strategy lead to a noticeable difference in efficacy and return on investment for any CRM implementation. You paid for state of the art tech, now invest in using it properly.
If you’re interested in learning more about successful CRM implementations, sharing a horror story of a failed implementation, or just learning how to avoid costly CRM mistakes, feel free to reach out to me. I can talk about this all day! Good luck out there.