Great CRM Training is More than Keeping the People Awake (but that’s a good start)

We have all been there before, you are training a group and then you see that guy in the second row drift off to sleep. Hopefully I’m not the only one that has also BEEN that guy falling asleep! Training can be a hard task both to deliver and to participate as a trainee.

Essential to CRM success is user adoption and one critical element of user adoption is that the users know how, and are excited, to use the system. That knowledge and excitement starts with excellent training. The importance of training is often understated but is pivotal in the initial success and adoption of CRM.

I have been performing end user training for CRM for almost 5 years and in that time have had my fair share of dud training sessions with sleeping participants, as well as a good number of “home runs”. Fortunately the “sleeper” sessions have become less frequent as my experience has increased.

Having picked up a few techniques I consider helpful in successfully delivering CRM training, I have put together my top 5 techniques list for delivering bettering CRM training:

  • Question based training: I can’t take full credit for this technique as Socrates had me beat by a few thousand years but I mention it because of how easily we fall into the trap of just telling what we know and not guiding the training experience with questions. It is not enough to simply ask at the end of a segment “Are there any questions?”, you must proactively guide the class using questions. Asking questions can be scary for the trainer because you are opening yourself up to criticism or not knowing the answer, I have come to accept both fears as normal parts of training and actually user follow up questions to understand and resolve the root concern of the asker. Using questions can blend your vast CRM knowledge with the classes vast knowledge of their industry which makes for a more clear and interesting training sessions.
  • Have fun: This may seem a bit “little league soccer” like the coach saying “remember team if you had fun then you ARE a winner” but the fact is if you aren’t having a good time training, it is obvious and your class probably isn’t having a good time either. Humor can be a powerful tool to maintain attention and let down your attendee’s walls. The ice breaker cheesy joke to start your training is ok but you can’t then just move into the dry details of CRM. You need to engage people throughout a training so they are alert and attentive. As an example, I once gave a day long training in a room that we all agreed looked exactly like a college lecture hall, so I made everyone call me “Professor Case” for the remainder of the day. As stupid as that may sound I had fun doing it and so did my attendees.
  • Using varied forms of Media: Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “The Tipping Point”, talks in detail about sesame street and how it was designed with short segments that didn’t exceed the attention span of children.       Reading that impacted me as a trainer because I thought “adults are not much better with attention than kids”. So I changed the way I trained. By doing something different every few minutes therefore breaking training into short segments I have better held people’s attention. Try to change something every few minutes, by keeping the audience’s attention you increase retention of information. Use a white board, do flip chart drawings, use live demo, have participants do hands on activities, ask questions, use videos and stories, stand up if you have been siting, sit down if you have been standing, bottom line, mix it up. I use all these in trainings to keep attendees entertained and focused.
  • Remember you are a sales person: This principle is lost on most people who are on the delivery side of a business. When the CRM has already been purchased built and is being delivered you think it’s fate is sealed, but the truth is the users also need sold on the software, not just trained. It is the job of a trainer to remind their attendees throughout the training that CRM will make their job better, easier and more efficient. Of course it is essential to deliver the technical details, but keep in mind you are presenting to a room full of skeptics who don’t want to change the way they are currently operating, helping them see what is in it for them goes a long way.
  • Repetition is a law of learning – I have been more conscious of my training session’s cadence recently and I try to slow down and repeat myself more often. I think a common belief of trainers, who understand their material well, is that everyone is understanding everything they are saying. If that belief were true pausing or repeating yourself would be belittling and pointless. BUT since the audiences is barley grasping what you are saying as they attempt to commit the system to their long term memory, slowing down and repeating yourself can benefit retention greatly. Additionally, using short recaps before moving on to the next segment or after coming back from a break is a good way to repeat the most important information.

So to recap, CRM training success can be accomplished by: Asking questions, having fun, mixing it up, selling the product and repeating yourself more than you think is necessary. I am confident that following these techniques will help you be more successful in training your employees. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for assistance in developing a winning training plan.