How-to Avoid CRM Failure: Have a Training Plan

Published August 1 2017 by Patrick Lewis
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In my previous article, I talked about the first of three building blocks in the High Performing Organization Modelorganizational structure.

In this blog, I’ll dive into building block number two, which is about training, or having a training system.


There are three things that you see in every HPO, including:


  • Adoption. Adoption comes from two places primarily. It comes through leadership engagement, and training; specifically how well you train your users.
  • Productivity. Productivity means that CRM is more than just entering data on a form, or something that you're doing so someone can get their report. It becomes more than a tool, it’s a way of doing business.
  • Employee satisfaction. CRM should not be something that you and your team dread. It's not something that they feel like they're using completely for someone else. It becomes a part of their DNA.

This should be what you're trying to drive to, so you have adoption, productivity, and team satisfaction. When failure is not an option, the only way is to put your organization in the best practices group – and be a HPO. Now that we’ve laid out the some of the best practice goals; let’s take a look at the most common training miss-steps to avoid, and then the top training considerations.

5 Common Training Mistakes that Derail your CRM Success

Let's walk through the five most common mistakes that we see organizations make that keep them from becoming a high performing organization:

  1. Little to no training. Often, organizations don't train at all, or very little, because they assume that the software's going to be easy enough that their people are just going to get it, and understand it. That's a mistake; that's not how it works.
  2. Go-live only training. Sometimes organizations train just at go-live. With training is going to be specific to the software, the same way that they might train Word or Access, and that's all the training that their users get.
  3. No training plan. Even if a business delivers some level of good training at go-live, they don't have a plan for how their users are going to get better over time.
  4. No training validation. Another big mistake that companies make, is not having a method for gauging whether the users are actually understanding CRM. They haven't rolled training out in a way that they can validate that the users actually understand.
  5. Training that is not role-specific. We commonly see that businesses don't provide training that is specific to the person, to what they actually do in the organization. They might provide training, but its generic - the same for everybody, which won’t drive you to the “best performing” category.

Now that we’ve taken a look at what to avoid, let’s cover the three things that a high-performing organization does, and how they think about training.

How high-performing companies approach training


Persona Training

The first is persona, which is "Who is the person that I'm training?" Do you provide training specific to the role, to the position, to their level in the organization? The way that you train your manager should be different than the way that you train your users. The way that you train someone who works in service should be different than the way you train someone that works on sales. And of course there's overlap, but there should be some specificity to what you're going to roll out to those people.

Experience Level Training

The next type of training HPOs focus on is experience level. When you train at go-live, there's a certain amount of information that's important to you, that you need to know in order to do what the organization needs you to do. But beyond that, you may be three months in, or six months in with more experience. This is the time where you can get productive in the system, but only if you're getting the appropriate level of training. And when you think about experience, also think about what happens to the new hire. In many organizations, the new hire gets 15 minutes, with the person sitting next door. When this happens, the new hire loses all the nuance, and all the reason, and all the in-depth training that the others had. So you want to think about the experience levels that you want to train to.

Along with experience training, you want to think about the type of training that you're offering. So, of course you want to train on the application, with application-specific education to answer questions like:

  • How does it work?
  • How do I open a form?
  • How do I move from stage to stage in an opportunity?

Those are important, but what about the process? Think about what you're actually introducing. In many cases, this will be the first time everyone has seen the sales process altogether. Little mistakes like not actually training to the process can mean that you end up with bad data. As an example, if everybody thinks that "qualify" means something different, when you're looking at this brand-new pipeline that you've created, you have numbers that don't mean anything. Then, you have to pedal your way back to having information that makes sense.

Motivational Training

And the third type of training that I want to cover is reinforcement or motivational-type training. This is the training where the CEO talks to the organization about why the change is happening, and what the target outcomes are, and the fact that CRM is not optional. This is what makes the initiative real. Not the software, the initiative, because everyone can engage now around a conversation from leadership that matters.

Persona training, experience appropriate training, and motivational training are key in your training system. That can be a lot to manage and create! The good news is, there are already solutions available that include all the important types of training your team will need to be successful. Have you heard of D365 University? It's a training system built off best practiced and designed for Dynamics CRM (now Dynamics 365) users. When it comes to structuring a training system, D365 U is like pushing the easy button, see for yourself here.

In order to have a successful Dynamics initiative and achieve adoption, you must have a solid training plan. This guide will walk you through 5 common training mistakes to avoid as well as the 3 crucial types of training to ensure your success.

As the Director of Business Outcomes and CRM Success, Patrick has more than 25 years in customer relationship management. He’s worked across Manufacturing, Professional Services, Sports, and Financial Services industries. Patrick’s primary areas of focus are organizational change management, and business process.

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