training

Training end users: 10 tips and tricks

by Carolyn Adams

Many Salesforce projects cite a lack of training and change management processes as the main barrier to a successful roll-out. Whether you’ve added some simple enhancements or an entirely new system, how you go about training your end users makes all the difference when it comes to adoption. Interestingly, most companies do discuss the training plan and materials throughout the project, but it’s somewhere in the process of delivering this to end users where things fall apart.

The problem is that while nearly every Salesforce administrator has to train end users at some point, very few are actually well-versed in training best practices. The admins are often leveraged throughout and after the project to make sure new processes stick and end users are adopting tools properly, so spending a bit of time to make sure admins can effectively communicate with end users is time well spent. In this post, we’ll cover ten essential tips to get admins on the right training path, while avoiding those terrified-of-change glares from the audience.

 

1. Communicate the vision

When you’re implementing new software, it’s not just software; you’re also dealing with the new business processes that come with it. From the start, a cohesive company vision for the software and its new processes must be communicated, ideally from the executive level. If no one knows why the change is happening (or even the existence of the change to begin with), it will only make for trouble later.

 

2. Don’t throw your users in the deep end

Training activities for end users should not overwhelm them—that will only discourage eventual adoption. Start out slow with a foundation of the basics (search, navigation, home tab, recent items) and work your way up to the more advanced techniques (data definitions, specific activities for different job roles). Above all, remember that what’s obvious to you, the admin, may not be obvious to your trainees.

 

3. Avoid the “one size fits all” approach

Your audience is not one like-minded blob. Different functional groups should be addressed individually for training to truly foster adoption. Sales, Service, Marketing, and other departments will all need separate training information, even if some basic skills overlap. Their motives and tasks are different, so they’ll only be interested in what is relevant to them. Design your training with this in mind.

 

4. People learn by doing

For each functional group trained in their own special way, you’ll also need unique practice exercises. To make sure end users truly absorb what you’re teaching, prompt them to use it as soon as possible. Train in a sandbox instance so people can create records and make changes freely. Then define a set of activities for the users to perform throughout the training. For example, a “day in the life” exercise for a sales rep may include finding Leads assigned to them, logging a call, qualifying and converting the Lead, and creating a Quote.

 

5. Train in bite-sized pieces

In another effort to make sure you don’t overload end users during training, utilize small, bite-size pieces of information in your lessons. These pieces of information are often segmented by process so that they’re easiest to understand. On top of that, don’t make any one training session too long: studies show that information is not as well retained after the first 90 minutes.

 

6. Keep it engaging

There are multiple ways to make training sessions fun and engaging and not just a mandatory obligation in the middle of people’s busy schedules: videos, creative slide design, quizzes, polls, and memes can all add a bit of spice to your presentation. You should also strive to keep to a 15:1 student to teacher ratio so that trainees feel they can ask questions and that they’ll be listened to. If you have a larger class, try to have additional trainers available to wander the room and address questions quickly or more privately.

 

7. Use existing material for the easy stuff

To make the adoption process even easier for your trainees and yourself, be sure to integrate existing materials when possible. Leveraging a couple of modules on Trailhead to instill the basics of CRM (e.g. terminology, navigation) can kickstart your time with end users. Be prescriptive with these additional materials and don’t just refer them to the wide world of Youtube or Salesforce Help and Training. Instead, select resources that pertain specifically to your Salesforce instance, industry, or the user’s role.  

 

8. Tread lightly when discussing change

While the updates may make perfect sense to admin, be careful about being too urgent or hasty with end users; they are not always on the same page. Tread lightly here, especially depending on what’s being changed, and introduce the idea of change slowly and in a way that makes sense to everyday users. Make sure they’re excited about the change, too, before moving ahead too quickly.

 

9. Show users what’s in it for them

Change, even if great, innovative, and necessary, can disrupt daily processes. To mediate this, it’s important to approach change from a perspective of benefits; show end users what they can expect from the changes and how it will ease their daily tasks. Adopt a strong “what’s in it for me” model when selling the changes in training.

 

10. Find an executive sponsor

Finally, it is crucial that you have an executive sponsor supporting your training efforts. If end users don’t feel like this is backed by a higher up, they’re not very likely to listen to training practices. When working with your executive sponsor, find ways to incentivize end users for adopting the changes quickly. Perhaps there is a SPIFF or competitive approach which would work for your audience, or a general perk or company benefit. Above all, the executives need to manage using the tool (if you are rolling out Sales Cloud for the Sales team, you better be paying commission based on Salesforce data).

 

The ultimate success of your implementation project rests on the effectiveness of end user training. By applying these ten tips, you can ensure your training won’t fall on unreceptive ears and, instead, will be a clear contributor to increased adoption and new value-adding processes.

 

carolynCarolyn is a Senior Solutions Architect here at Simplus. She is a seasoned business intelligence and systems analyst specializing in Salesforce solution architecture and project delivery management. Carolyn has over eight years of Salesforce administration and consulting experience for mid-size through Enterprise customers.

carolyna@simplus.com

Need more training resources and tips on user adoption? Contact Simplus today.

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