Perfecting Service Management

Issue #110

Tuesday, February 14, 2007

CRM Article by Craig Bailey Published in BusinessWeek

Our current newsletter series on Addressing the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations was recently published in BusinessWeek magazine as an Expert Insights Special Report entitled "You've Bet on CRM: Now, Improve Your Odds for Success."

Newsletter devotees should be familiar with most of the information, but there is still some new content, so check it out!

CRM Implementations: Proficiency After 2 Days of Training?
By Craig Bailey

In our last newsletter, we continued the series on Addressing the Realities of (Sales) CRM Implementations. Prior articles covered the following topics:

This article covers the topic of "Proficiency After 2 Days of Training?"

There are several dynamics to consider when defining your Sales CRM training program, besides the main content. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, computer skill set, locale and duration. And, don't forget about the ongoing training and reinforcement that will need to be provided post-deployment.

Duration A key step in defining your CRM training program is obtaining commitment to take Sales personnel out of the field for the necessary timeframe. An effective CRM training program requires 2 to 4 days of training. In our experience, 2 days of training provides only a first pass at the process and system functions that the Sales team needs to become familiar with, and only a minimal amount of hands-on use with ready support from the training team. Mark our words, as soon as you indicate that training needs to be 2 to 4 days long, Sales management will respond with "you can have 2 days maximum." Then, there will be constant pressure to reduce the training time from 2 to 1.5 days, to 1 day of training. Hold your ground! If you don't provide at least 2 days of training, user adoption will suffer and post-deployment support requirements will be high.

Computer Skill Set Participating in the launch of a brand new CRM system is quite a daunting task for the Sales team. You can deliver the best possible CRM process and system training, but if members of the team are computer novices, you have a major user adoption risk factor on your hands. To mitigate this risk, you can offer a session on computer basics. This may be provided as an optional class, or if the user population includes a large number of computer novices, you can make this a required session for specific individuals.

Locale of training - A couple of key approaches to consider (at the extreme) include: 1) a city-by-city tour, or 2) going out with a big bang! Each has benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Option 1) The city-by-city tour is the least risky of all. This involves a core set of training resources (or teams) traveling to central locations within the scope of your deployment to deliver the CRM training program. The main benefit of this approach is that each training session and location is an isolated group in a controllable environment which minimizes the risk of any single logistical or system glitch jeopardizing the entire deployment. Drawbacks include the fact that full deployment may take several weeks and the training team will be on the road for the duration.

Option 2) Training your entire sales force at a single event (i.e., National Sales Meeting) is by far the riskiest approach you can take. The major risk factor is that you are putting all your eggs in a single basket and if any single issue (system, network or other technical glitch) emerges, your entire CRM training program will be disrupted. This is EXTREMELY PAINFUL! Recovering (on the spot) from such a situation can be difficult. Worse, if you fail to recover on-the-spot, then it will be very costly to reschedule. However, if you can pull it off, there are several advantages including: senior leadership being "on location" to deliver key messages (i.e., expectations to the sales force), all hands on deck to focus on the big event and the satisfaction of "getting it done" in one fell swoop.

Follow on training and reinforcement One of the realities of Sales CRM deployments is that as soon as the training program completes, the Sales team is back in front of the customer (where they need to be) building relationships and moving product. And, it may be several days before they get into the swing of making the CRM solution a part of their daily lives. To address this reality, there are a number of follow-on training and reinforcements that you will want to offer to ensure maximum adoption of your Sales CRM solution. This includes: sending daily helpful hint emails addressing common questions or challenges that people have with using their new tool-set. You can also offer a number of online webinars each week, providing the option for users to participate in a mini-training session on specific topics. There may also be a need to have a training resource do a site visit to meet with a Sales team that may be struggling with use of the system. Finally, you will want to schedule "full blown" training programs on an ongoing basis for new hires and offer this as an option for people who need a complete refresher if they simply didn't get it the first time around.

Even with a carefully planned 2-day training program and follow-up training sessions, there will be pains with coming up to speed on the system. This is where strong management/leadership is required to hold people accountable to fulfilling their CRM process responsibilities (including building business plans, developing opportunities and forecasting).

In summary, to ensure your Sales team gets the most out of CRM training you will want to carefully plan and execute the training program, then offer ongoing reinforcement and support. Doing so dramatically improves the odds for success in achieving the anticipated ROI.

In future editions we will cover the remaining topics of this series including:

  • Your Sales CRM is Live: What's Next?

In closing, if you are embarking on a CRM initiative, or are in the middle of a CRM program that doesn't seem to have the traction you'd like to see, give us a call. We'd be happy to assist you in framing up your initial project for success as well as provide objective insight on your existing initiative to ensure that you achieve the anticipated ROI.


+ CRM Implementations: Avoid Overly Aggressive Timelines
+ Recommended Reading

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Recommended Reading
For additional considerations for CRM implementation, read NewsFactor's CRM Daily article Planning for Growth with Scalable CRM by Elizabeth Millard. Ms. Millard stresses the need to think ahead and map out growth plans for your company, from the top down (or bottom up), to be able to implement a flexible CRM system that can grow with you.


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