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Three keys to creating a winning Salesforce training plan

Salesforce rollouts are only successful if employees know how to use the platform to replace their inefficient habits. This Salesforce training plan can help.

Companies spend many months planning for a Salesforce implementation and rollout, but the final step of the project...

-- Salesforce training -- is often an afterthought.

Many employees who use Salesforce complain that their training lasted less than two hours and left them feeling confused, overwhelmed and intimidated.

As a result, these employees never learn how to use the functionality available to them, which results in sales reps who do needless manual tasks and rework. They waste time looking for phone numbers and email addresses and searching for the contact information of decision makers or notes from previous meetings. In addition, these reps typically rely on Excel, Outlook or even paper notepads to keep track of customer lists, tasks and their current pipeline.

And it isn't just sales reps. Senior executives may lack visibility into the sales pipeline; rely on pipeline reports that are generated in Excel instead of Salesforce; and may use a Salesforce database filled with half-baked, inaccurate and duplicate records. They also lack insight into the team's calling efforts and have no actionable data for their team.

Senior management can address these issues using the following three-step approach to create a solid Salesforce training curriculum that is inexpensive, scalable and sustainable.

1. Prepare

Before the Salesforce training, the CRM team leader, or Salesforce administrator, should do the following:

  • Secure a deep and thorough understanding of the current business processes, nuances and priorities across the organization -- including all relevant departments, divisions and business units.
  • Identify the key performance indicators leveraged across sales, marketing and customer service.
  • Become familiar with the existing Salesforce customizations, integrations, third-party apps and user pain points.

Depending on the size of your team, your Salesforce administrator might already be intimately familiar with all of the above.

2. Deploy

Taking into account the insights and research from step one, you need to create a mandatory CRM training curriculum for all users, covering the following topics to the extent that they are used at your company:

  • Navigating Salesforce
  • Chatter
  • Leads
  • Contacts and accounts
  • Activities
  • Opportunities
  • Cases
  • Campaigns
  • Reports
  • Dashboards
  • Salesforce1
  • Additional apps, integrations and custom objects

Salesforce training programs can be done in person or remotely, via screen-sharing tools. With in-person trainings, the CRM team lead ensures that all participants are present, engaged and paying attention.

Including remote attendees in this classroom-style training is a challenge because the dialogue that takes place in the classroom will be difficult to hear over the phone, and any questions asked by the phone participants may be difficult to hear in the classroom.

For the same reasons stated above, it becomes incredibly challenging to create a clean, crisp recording of the in-person classroom training sessions, because attendees don't have microphones.

Why Salesforce training matters

Quantifiable side effects of poor Salesforce training plans include:

  • Time wasted by team members who can't find customer information.
  • Time wasted by team members who consolidate notes and spreadsheets.
  • Deals that slip through the cracks due to a lack of timely follow up.
  • Loss of top performers who leave the company to work somewhere more efficient.

On the flipside, conducting the Salesforce training remotely makes it impossible to gauge attendee engagement. But if the trainer is experienced in conducting training sessions via screen-share, they will know to pause frequently; ask for questions; and allow participants to verbalize concerns, thoughts or issues.

Additionally, remote Salesforce training accommodates an unlimited number of participants, across multiple time zones, without the travel expenses and logistical considerations needed to get everyone in the same room.

Conducting training sessions remotely via tools such as GoToMeeting and WebEx also allows for the simplicity of recording each training session directly within the tool. These recordings become invaluable for future use by new hires or employees who want a refresher.

I personally recommend deploying the training curriculum as:

  • One-hour training sessions via the Web (GoToMeeting, WebEx).
  • Weekly training sessions (Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays).

3. Maintain

After the core Salesforce training curriculum is complete, schedule ongoing, bi-weekly "Lunch and Learn" sessions. Take this time to address new issues, concerns and frustrations, as well as ideas on how to improve existing configurations and best practices.

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