Best Practices for CRM Implementation & Training | TechnologyAdvice

Best Practices for CRM Implementation & Training

Have you never implemented a new CRM before, or are you looking to make this go-round faster and easier? Maybe you’ve been part of the process in the past, but you know there’s plenty of room for improvement. You’re not alone. Many companies put off taking the plunge with new software because the task of implementing and training employees on a new software seems insurmountable.
Woman teaching co-workers a new application

No one’s going to tell you that a new CRM implementation is going to be easy–except maybe CRM vendor sales reps–but you can reduce your overall stress during the process by following best practices, a lot of planning, and careful user training.

These are the best practices you should follow for implementation, training, and follow-up on a new CRM.

When implementing and setting up your CRM

  • Automate as much as possible: the best CRM tools on the market right now contain advanced workflow and task automation to make entering and updating customer information in a CRM easier than ever. This is a huge selling point for many companies because of the overall time savings, and will help with both stakeholder and IC buy-in. Use feedback from your power-users of the previous systems to best understand how to set up automations that work best for the whole team.
  • Document how users actually use the tools so you can teach those pieces first. Not every user is going to use your CRM the same. Marketing will use features differently than sales, who will use features differently than customer support or C-level stakeholders. Understand how everyone uses the tool so you can differentiate instruction.
  • Decide upon rules for CRM use: For example, every lead must be processed through the CRM, every email documented, or whatever works for your team. Document these rules so they can become policy, and provide each trainee with a copy during training sessions.
  • Set up your CRM and user roles for maximum collaboration and maximum data security. Who should have access to what types of account information? How will contact and lead data be shared across departments, and who will have edit/update access to which records? Consider whether you will ban the transfer of data out of the CRM electronically or on paper to protect the security of your data and your customers, and how your company will ensure the security of EU customer data in light of GDPR compliance.
  • Get buy-in: Buy-in happens through early and frequent communication. Gather feedback about the types of tools users need most and what their CRM priorities are in the research and comparison phase. Then use this feedback to show how your choice of CRM is right for the company and their workflow needs. People are resistant to change, but you can provide resources and information at the time of contracting to really get buy-in.

Training users on your new CRM

  • Offer a variety of training courses: It’s no secret that people learn differently, and retaining your CRM training is no different. Use all the resources available to you from the CRM vendor plus any in-house training you can provide to get new users started. Consider in-person, online, hybrid, video, and manuals to cover all your bases. And get the CRM company to give you all the training materials they have. You don’t have to make all of this yourself!
  • For in-person training: Combine instruction with hands-on learning and practice assignments to improve retention. To further improve retention and prevent productivity loss, stick to less than ½ day of training at a time. This will reduce employee stress about missing a full day of work and will help break up your training into manageable chunks.
  • Prioritize your training. Start with practical, day to day processes that you’ve already automated. When everyone has a good idea of how to navigate your new CRM, you can move on to some of the flashier features like analytics.
  • Simplify: Limited time and attention span means you have to pick and choose what’s best for each user type you’re training. Consider breaking your training into different user type groups instead of sales learning how customer support uses the tool and vice versa. If users want to be cross-trained on the tool, provide follow-up sessions for these users.
  • Training is critical to improving buy-in from your users. One way to improve the team’s overall sentiment for the CRM tool is to show time savings. Try setting up some comparisons that show “this is the old way, this is our new way!”

Increase training retention with CRM training follow-up

  • Have follow-up open sessions, perhaps try an office hours format, to address any usability questions for the users. Schedule these sessions the first and second week after roll-out, and follow up monthly for a few months to answer questions. This may turn into a formal power-users group that you can then use to help you train new users down the line.
  • Have trainers and admins on the floor and available to help during the first 1-2 days of roll-out. Tasks that might have seemed easy in the training session could quickly turn to frustration points, so have backup ready to assist.
  • Use the time you take to train new users in the months following the implementation as optional refresher courses for existing users. This may require that your team put together a detailed training schedule so existing users can sign up. Refine your training curriculum from your initial onboarding training sessions to reflect what happened in real life, and then use that to set a training schedule.
  • Advertise and promote any retention-focused trainings you provide. Send emails, invite the whole team training appointments, hang a sign over the coffee machine, or add it to your company schedule.

CRM implementation and training will differ according to the needs and infrastructure of the company. By planning and taking a hard look at your internal processes, user types, and workflows, you’ll be better prepared to implement your CRM.

Further Reading

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