Training isn’t the problem

When a data-driven marketing technology solution is not properly utilised, more often than not, it’s blamed on the training. But blaming a lack of training is a default answer for a more complicated problem. There are exceptions, such as badly configured solutions that are too complicated to use or inadequate training for new staff so that knowledge is lost over time due to staff turnover; but when it’s the same team that were there when the system was introduced, it’s an issue of poor change management and user buy-in.

Training is the last-but-one element of managing change in a CRM implementation.

The usual way people learn to use their shiny new solution is in groups, with the vendor’s trainer presenting a system on a big screen. Sometimes, users have laptops so they can do some things for themselves and join in more. This training session is an essential part of a CRM deployment, but it should be kept short – half a day or a full day at most. People will not use a system just because they know how.

There are three types of user:

  • Group 1: You’ve logged in, shown them a contact and an opportunity, say, and they’re off – streets ahead of you already and you just need to ensure they focus and concentrate on the business rules. These are not intuitive but essential to getting everyone using the system in the same way.
  • Group 2: The majority: They’ll get there and are comfortable with technology to some degree, but they won’t instinctively understand the software and how it works so they will need to be shown.
  • Group 3: They struggle with new technology, but most of all, they find change extremely hard.

Recognise the groups and work with them in the right way.

For all groups – do the basic vendor training, en masse. Then get Group 1 using the system first, achieving super user status. Next, get their bosses and them to agree that part of their job will now be helping others. This is important, as super users need to feel appreciated for helping others. If their boss is glaring at them while they neglect their main job to help others learn, they won’t want to help.

Groups 2 and 3 then need drip-feed training and one-to-one access to help. For the first week, if possible, have someone sitting with them, ready to answer the endless stream of questions that inevitably arise. Group 2 will know when they need it, but you’ll have to insist on spending time with Group 3. Request sessions to sit with them, listen to their complaints, be sympathetic and focus them on how the system will solve their problems. They are struggling with change, as much as with the technology, work on that and it should get easier.

Over the subsequent weeks, reduce the visits to 2-3 times per week and keep an eye on adoption levels. Don’t let Group 3 hide, keep sitting with them and use a bit of stick with the carrot if necessary. Once satisfied the system is bedding in, set up user group meetings, perhaps every quarter. These should be structured forums where the team learn tips, address functionality issues and own the system. Use this for change request management (developments to the CRM software) and keep these sessions going.

Hopefully then, user adoption will be high and the project team will not have to hear complaints that insufficient money was spent on training. Remember: it’s the change, stupid.

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