Monday, September 19, 2011

Achieve Success for Your Business with CRM Training

By Sidney Angelos

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are becoming a necessity for both small and large businesses. These systems, which generally run over the Internet, can assist customer service agents, sales people, marketing and support departments maintain efficiency in their business practices. While CRM applications are proven to boost efficiency, these tools are only as good as the staff that employs them.

Therefore, businesses must ensure that authorized employees are adequately trained in in the use of all of the customer relationship management applications that they’ll be using.

CRM applications are often designed and tailored to each business’s specific needs. Therefore, it is imperative to hire a trainer who can explain the use of these apps in relation to the specific business environment.

Cloud-based applications are essential to support business growth and scalability. With cloud-based CRM platforms, a company can scale up or down as necessary, and still have all of the server capacity they need—without paying for excess. A CRM vendor will often provide a trainer from their organization as part of the roll-out.

Much of the training may occur online through a Web-based application. However, some companies may elect to conduct courses in interactive classroom as some organizations find that individuals learn best by doing. Therefore, training proctors provide actual scenarios in order to demonstrate problems that employees may encounter while using the product. During training, terminology and other business processes will be discussed.

A typical training class may cover the following topics to prepare employees for the new CRM tools:
  • CRM terminology
  • Features of the CRM tool
  • Calendar, Task and Activities
  • Integration with Legacy Systems
  • Note Management Tools
  • Lead Entry Tools
  • Lead Conversion Process
  • Sales Forecasting
  • Report Generation
  • Opportunity Management
  • Interface Configuration
  • Customer Support Management
  • Knowledge Base Training
  • Project Management Tools
  • Searching Concepts
  • Application Development
  • Other Customization Tools
Most of these processes are simple and intuitive; therefore, the training is not difficult or intense. Problems can develop when employees do not utilize the system or enter the required information on a consistent basis. Tool effectiveness can only be measured if employees utilize the software appropriately. If the software is taken advantage of appropriately, managers can measure and improve sales, lead generation, organization, collaboration and other metrics. Proper training can help boost adoption rates as well as accuracy in using the tools, although the intuitive nature of these applications means that users who want to improve their skills can usually self-teach and dig deeper into the apps’ functionality.

A San Antonio-based pharmaceutical firm sought to train their users on CRM practices. In addition, they wanted to automate their processes, customize applications, integrate accounting data, and increase speed and performance. The vendor trained each department, from sales to support, on each of the relevant tools and applications within CRM software. Once the training was complete, the company monitored the effectiveness of the tool.

The company remarked on the training and how it improved their sales and revenue forecasting. They experienced quicker and more efficient resolution to customer problems, and also automated tasks that freed a significant amount of time for each employee. Employees rarely missed scheduled appointments or follow-ups because the tools helped remind the employees of their responsibilities. Additionally, the employees themselves reported greater job satisfaction, since their tasks were streamlined by the CRM apps based in the cloud.