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CRM skills training essential for system management

The right CRM training is crucial to the management and development of a CRM system. Make sure your staff has the right CRM skills to survive.

Implementing a customer relationship management system of any size is no easy task. Companies need certain skill...

sets to administer and manage a CRM platform. Whether you're dealing with a handful of CRM users or many thousands, your company may need help to ensure that the process is smooth and doesn't create havoc down the road because your organization lacks the necessary skills to manage, maintain and make changes to its CRM systems.

The most successful CRM training projects are led by a dedicated team of qualified people. Sometimes companies need outside consultants to execute a project correctly and to train employees on how to use the system. Here are some guidelines to in deciding which people should direct your customer relationship management (CRM) training project and what kinds of credentials they need.

Fewer than 100 users

CRM systems for fewer than 100 users are often simple to use, and the data will be relatively manageable by the individuals who input it. A part-time consultant can usually get the CRM system up and running for a three- to six-month project. After implementation, many companies are self-sufficient and entrust one person to run the system, which includes configuring it, maintaining data quality, running reports, etc.

100 to 250 users

At this number of licenses, you should consider how complex your system should be. Will you need a marketing automation system? Are there legacy systems, like one for ERP or an old database, that need to be connected? Will the CRM system be self-sufficient? For implementations that don't need code or application program interface (API) development, one dedicated CRM administrator with one to three years of experience should be able to manage the system. Depending on the system's complexity, you should consider having a contract or part-time developer to develop what you need. If you contract the work, make sure an IT pro within the organization supervises the project to ensure that it can be maintained once the contract expires.

250 to 1,000 users

At this level, a business should have already developed -- or knows it will need -- a more complex CRM system. Companies of this size need to decide whether marketing automation, custom object development, complex security parameters and continual improvement of the system's infrastructure need to grow and change as the organization changes. At this level, employers should pair a senior and a junior admin with a dedicated or semi-dedicated developer. The senior admin is responsible for change and release management, user acceptance testing, or UAT, processes and overall architecture of the system. The junior admin is responsible for day-to-day maintenance, training CRM users and working on projects ad-hoc. It is important that a senior admin is certified with three to five years of experience or more, while the junior's experience should be at the organization's discretion. It is the senior admin's responsibility to train the junior admin. The developer should have familiarity with the Visualforce and Apex languages, which are key to developing in Salesforce.com's architecture.

More than 1,000 users

Enterprise rollouts of a CRM system require dedicated teams to manage it. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for projects of this scale, and companies should look carefully at their needs when assembling a team for implementation. For the most complex systems that use multiple areas of the platform across multiple departments, a solutions architect should lead a team of administrators and developers with an eye toward monthly and quarterly releases of key project milestones. For organizations just using the CRM system for their large sales teams, a senior admin managing a junior admin, one or two analysts and a developer would suffice.

Whatever your company's size, sufficient staffing and CRM skills training are essential for a successful implementation and management of a CRM system. Understaffing a system may work as a short-term solution, but it can create long-term havoc if items are neglected and become larger problems. Putting your trust in people with the proper CRM skills and accurately anticipating the volume of support you need ensure the greatest success from your CRM training investment.

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This was last published in March 2015

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Who created the team that implemented your CRM system? What skills or roles did they have?
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At my company, it was our controller who put together the team that implemented our CRM system. Our controller has lots of experience working with several other companies and systems. He was able to pinpoint right away what would work for us and what wouldn't.

When choosing the CRM team, he was careful to choose the employees who were fit for that specific role - not necessarily those who had the most experience.
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@Alanna49 - It seems your company is one of the lucky ones! I bet it made your CRM implementation that much smoother that you had a steady hand guiding you through the process. Only 3 months later, but how's it going?
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I think the best CRM skills must include:

  • Customer needs
  • Customer response
  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer retention
  • Customer complaint
  • Customer service
  • Quality data maintaining
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