scene from Blazing Saddles

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ CRM Training

Ben Consulting, CRM, Sales, Training

One of the least addressed reasons for the dis-satisfaction (and sometimes outright failure) of new software deployments, particularly CRM systems is not having a good focus on training.

There is always a tendency to let on-the-job, organic training take the place of formal instruction. After all, everyone now is ‘computer literate’ and we don’t want to insult our employees by making them attend training. This is especially true of sales reps who get compensated for being in front of prospects and closing business.

Customer Relationship Management and other selling tools help reps work smarter. And the more they know and understand the application of those tools the more advantages they will have over their competitors. You just can’t count on your competitors not investing in tools and training ― you have to be out front in order to win the business.

Here are some ways to improve the training delivered to CRM teams.

It’s a Workshop, Not a Presentation

I can’t count how many ‘training sessions’ that I have (begrudgingly) sat through. Slideshow after slideshow of features and benefits. And some of these were from vendors wanting me to carry and support their product line.

bored dog image by

“Next Slide, Fluffy!” (by joshme17)

No, It’s Not a Demo Either

Too many times the training is delivered by the vendor’s or consultant’s sales team. And I’ll bet you got a product demo — probably a very good one. Chances are it did not address the subject areas that YOUR team needed to go back out in the field and use to close business.

Use professional trainers wherever possible. It’s OK if they don’t know the answer to every question posed ― a subject matter expert can address those specific issues. The important thing is to impart new skills and ideas. Try to focus on workshop exercises, role play, and other ways to get your team engaged and participating in the training.

Identify Teams and The Skills They Need

This should have been done in the planning and assessment phase of your CRM project. Not every team member needs the same skills at the outset. Focus on the features that will give them the best bang for the buck the day they return from class. Future sessions will reinforce the last training and bring in more tools to help them sell better.

tools in a toolbox

The right tools for the right job. (by Ryan Hyde)

I personally will not consider conducting a training session until the client and I have hammered out the teams and the knowledge transfer that needs to take place by the end of the training. I learned this the hard way early on. Now all projects, including training start with a knowledge (or mind) map with the outcome as the central topic.


Training and knowledge transfer needs to be a continuous effort. Sales meetings, “lunch ‘n learns” and other group events are a good place to introduce a new topic and set the stage for a new training session. These don’t have to be long sessions, in fact they often get shorter and shorter. The idea is to continue to offer up new tools, updates, or methodologies that aren’t being used currently.

And if you have done a great job of team building and fostering collaboration, the training will start to evolve into on-site cross training between internal teams. Your CRM superstars and high performers will often take the lead in showcasing what works best for them.

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