Which CRM Training Methods Are Most Effective?

By Geoffrey James

It’s said that successful CRM implementations share one characteristic: the sales team using the system got great training. While everyone wants excellent training, it’s not always clear which CRM training method is best for the needs of individual team members.

Here are the four most common CRM training methodologies, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

e-Learning. This training is conducted across the Web without human intervention or participation, other than that of the student. e-Learning usually is self-paced, typically includes online testing and often provides management with progress reports on each participant. The advantages are consistency – the same training is available to everyone – and cost-savings – once developed, e-learning modules cost almost nothing to use. The disadvantages are rigidity – the training cannot be adapted easily to different learning styles – and the upfront costs to develop a course can be expensive. e-Learning is best used as a supplement to other training, either in preparation for a classroom session or as a periodic update, such as training to use a new feature of the already-installed CRM system.

Webinars. This training for remote users is led by an instructor via the Internet, with telephone conferencing scheduled at predetermined times. The advantages are convenience—students can participate from anywhere there’s an Internet connection and telephone – and interactivity – the format encourages dialog between participants and trainer. The disadvantage to Webinars is that they are impersonal because there is little interaction between students. The best use for Webinars is training for geographically dispersed sales teams, where travel for classroom training would be prohibitively expensive.

CD-based training. This method provides training material on a CD that can be played either on a computer or television. The advantages are availability – the CD can be used wherever there is a computer or television – and privacy – there isn’t a manager staring over the user’s shoulder. The disadvantages are inflexibility and cost. Once the CD is recorded, it’s difficult to change, and the initial development cost is high. The best use for CD-based training is as supplemental training for entry-level users.

Classroom training. The main advantage to traditional training is effectiveness. Numerous studies have shown that human interaction and discussion are as important to learning a new system as mastering the technical skills. Another advantage is that classroom training presents an excellent opportunity for the CRM team to gather requests and requirements for the next phase of the system. Cost, of course, is the main disadvantage. This expense can be offset, however, by combining classroom training with other training methodologies. The classroom methodology is best used for initial training on the CRM system.

The above is based on an article by Sidney C. Lejfer, president of Harvest Solutions, a CRM consulting and training organization. He can be reached at 781-530-3736 or at www.harvestsolutions.net.