As an agency that frequently helps clients onboard with HubSpot, we often hear the question: “How much CRM training will my sales team need?”
Of course, the answer is it depends. It depends on factors like which CRM you’re onboarding, how you’ll be using it, who needs training and to what extent they have the capacity and capability to learn and adopt new systems.
While “it depends” is always an unsatisfying answer, I can say this: they likely need more training than you think.
Let’s look at how managers often think about how much CRM training their sales team needs, where things can go wrong and how you can better ensure a successful onboarding process.
While ease of adoption makes a big difference, the other side of this coin is the end-user. Whether you’re onboarding with a relatively simple or complex CRM, your team needs to be able to use the platform with confidence for it to serve the business. This is where the often-overlooked topic of training comes in.
Marketing and sales leaders usually grasp the importance of technical onboarding, but training and user adoption tends to be perceived as something that will… just kinda happen.
In our experience, this is not how it works. Onboarding to a new CRM can require as much of a cultural shift as technical adoption. Without clear communication, training and reinforcement, there’s a good chance your CRM onboarding will fall short – and your sales operations will suffer as a result.
Determining How Much CRM Training Your Sales Team Needs
There are a handful of key factors to weigh when considering how much training your sales team needs.
Prior CRM experience. If your sales team is moving from one CRM to another and they’re already trained on the current system, that’s a much easier transition than making the leap from, say, spreadsheets and Post-it notes. While each CRM has its own version of tools and verbiage that make up the platform, there are similarities between platforms that will make the switch simpler than starting from scratch. And if your team is already comfortable with the practice of using a CRM, you’ve already won half the battle.
Technological aptitude. Beyond a CRM, is your sales team used to working with other types of technologies in their role? Those with experience using tools like project management software, marketing automation, ERPs or accounting software will likely be quicker studies than those who don’t.
Resistance to change. This is the thorniest – and most important – factor to consider. As mentioned, if CRM onboarding requires a complete overhaul of how the sales team is used to doing things, that’s a change in culture, and you need everyone on board for it to work. Will your team be excited about using new systems that mean more transparency and accountability? Will they drag their feet, but eventually come around? Will they fight and claw and do everything they can to avoid it?
Size of the team. The bigger the team, the more training you should plan for. Not only are there simply more people to account for, but you’ll also want to avoid cramming everyone into crowded sessions (trust me), which means training your champions/super users who can then help onboard the rest of the team.
By going through these factors, you should have a good idea of how big a hill you must climb to get the team trained and ready.
Break Training Into Shorter Sessions To Improve Retention
Think about how you like to learn: would you rather sit through one hour-long session, or a few smaller, digestible sessions?
If you’re like most humans, you prefer the smaller sessions. How small? Studies show the average adult has a maximum attention span of around 20 minutes.
To help your sales team learn and retain the training materials, plan for a series of shorter sessions. For example, when we’re providing HubSpot training, we typically plan for between four and eight 30 to 45-minute sessions depending on how much training and which training modules are needed. This also provides the opportunity for the team to apply lessons in between sessions, which is an important part of the learning process.
Take Advantage of Experienced Trainers
The best bet for ensuring your factors are taken into account and that you have the right amount of training scheduled for your team is to work with someone who has experience training on your CRM platform.
Depending on the CRM you’re onboarding, this might include choosing between the provider’s own trainers or a third party. For example, HubSpot offers training directly, but they rely on certified Solutions Partners to provide the bulk of HubSpot training services.
In either case, take the time to research and vet your options. To do this:
Pay special attention to what experience they have helping companies like yours onboard to your CRM
Look through reviews, case studies and ask for references
If you have specific questions or concerns, raise those ahead of time
Doing this work in advance is worth it to ensure you’re partnering with the right trainer.
Deciding for Your Company: How Much CRM Training Is Enough?
So, how much CRM training does your sales team need?
Start by reviewing the key factors and keeping the shorter sessions strategy in mind to come up with a ballpark. Then, adjust that number up by about 10% to account for the fact that we tend to underestimate how much time is needed. Finally, vet and speak with trainers to learn what they recommend based on your situation.
Charlie is the Chief Strategy Officer at Simple Machines Marketing. When he's not doing the marketing, he likes playing guitar, hanging with his family in Chicago and lots of other stuff too but this seems like a good amount for a blog bio.