Stuck in a CRM ROI Bottleneck?

Run your training solution through this four-part selling skills alignment stress test.

“It’s never about the tool, it’s about the mechanic, using the tool” —Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee

Today’s sales teams must use customer relationship management (CRM) or fold their tents, but the long promised dramatic advances in productivity remain elusive, and poor training is rightly cited as a main culprit.

To realize the ROI sales teams deserve after so many years of investment and hard work, many now select training solutions that claim core selling skills shape their courseware.

 Here are four new metrics you can apply to any CRM training program to ensure it pays more than lip service to this critical goal. As a bonus, each one will lay the foundation for a powerful benefit guide on which to base your proposal to fund the training program you believe is right for your team.

1. Self-fulfillment and empowerment emerge as curriculum’s main themes. If these qualities mirror the best in leadership skills, that’s no accident. Inspiring and motivating students to uncover their personal best no longer needs an introduction as essential to successful CRM training, or any other kind of on the job training.

The “do as I say” version, even though discredited, keeps tempting business managers. Many solutions camouflage its presence with superficial approaches to full integration of sales and CRM skills. Once you look closely, however, you’ll see its real advantages haven’t changed all that much: It’s fast and cheap. The long-term results will always disappoint stakeholders.

To escape this trap, pinpoint how each solution you’re reviewing encourages students’ pursuit of deeper, more authentic connections with prospects and customers. Explore why CRM’s computational powers have raised the bar on productivity in administration and planning, but we, its users, have only started to recognize the opportunity this gives us to unleash our creativity and perceptiveness. Our teams want to ask prospects and customers not simply questions they’ve never heard before. We want to ask questions they’ve never even asked themselves, but know they need—and want—to answer as soon as they hear them.

Does the new courseware maximize students’ time by combining specific lessons in upgrading each of these skill sets meaningfully and expertly? Will the simultaneous instruction in sales and CRM skills deepen students’ connection with what they believe is their true purpose in the workplace?  

How might students better measure for themselves the CRM training’s value when guided by their core selling skills? When do incentives for greater collaboration with managers, customers, and departments outside of sales become truly convincing?

2. You hear your CRM’s language spoken as soon as you open the box. There are still way too many sales teams attending the latest CRM training class with a translation booklet in hand. Perhaps it’s a subset of our love of technobabble, one that mistakenly offers clever, unique words and phrases to users so they feel they’re about to join an exclusive “club.”

If a CRM training program’s terminology is wholly or even partially different from what your reps have learned from your CRM system, it’s like trying to master French cuisine while speaking only Mandarin. Eventually, you’ll accomplish the task, but why take it on in the first place?

3. There’s a difference between the speed and manner sales skills appear in the course for managers and the one reps take. Ensure your managers and your sales representatives learn the training program well and as fast as possible, but not together. These two groups have different priorities and perspectives, thanks to the huge demands placed on both by potential customers’ wide distribution of decision-making and the pressures relentless competition and globalization place on our economy.

Examine the courseware and watch for sound, well-articulated tactics based on your core selling skills methodology that bolster managers’ ability to provide clearer expectations; more precise measurements of each rep’s progress; and new insight into factors shaping prospects’ concerns and aspirations.

Sales reps, on the other hand, contend with the day-to-day challenges of closing more deals through better organizing and planning techniques. They need discrete, easily grasped new best practices on CRM technology first. The broader picture, showing them how each new best practice helps them engage more successfully with prospects, emerges over time, thanks especially to managers’ input.

4. The CRM training program taps your core selling skills to foster trust throughout your enterprise. Sales reps are competitive risk takers who have always traded security for a measure of autonomy and confidentiality. They watch carefully how your organization rewards their contributions to the bottom line and manages crucial information they gather and record.

This understandable caution often runs up against a bedrock principle of effective CRM. It enhances transparency to all internal stakeholders, which, in turn, nurtures the cross-functional teamwork you want in place to close deals and serve customers faster, better, and more cost effectively than the competition.

Like any other professional, sales reps appreciate career development programs that reward them, in particular, with improved outcomes. 

With a CRM training program, however, fear of change and loss of control loom larger as impediments to adoption. Doesn’t it make sense your next CRM training solution puts new best practices for data management firmly in the context of radically transforming students’ sales expertise?

Alexandra Ballantine ( is a business-to-business marketing and public relations consultant with extensive experience in the training and sales skills categories. She believes firmly in training’s unmatched potential to improve our use of mobility, social media and information management and analysis for greater profits and ultimately a better quality of life for all.




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