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The Secret to CRM Success: Training & Governance

Jeff Traynor

Vice President, Client Services, Forum One

Your CRM is a powerful tool, but unlocking its real potential comes down to how your people use it. To make the most of your CRM, developing and implementing clear training and governance systems are a must.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is used to manage an organization’s relationships with potential and current clients and contacts, and connect data across internal teams. While ‘customer’ suggests a commercial focus, CRMs are highly effective for non-commercial organizations, such as foundations, nonprofits and membership associations (in which case, you can easily switch out the word ‘customer’ for ‘constituent’ or ‘contact’).

A CRM can simplify an organization’s processes for tracking and maintaining individual relationships by organizing data into one platform, as well as enhance an organization’s objectives through an increase in conversions, donations, and retention. With the wide range of CRMs available to mission-driven organizations (such as the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack), organizations of all sizes can use CRM software to extend their reach and manage relationships with their active audiences.

Once you’ve chosen a CRM, you need to tackle training your team so that they understand the value and use of the tool for their work so that they actually and actively use it, and define governance structures so that the tool is used and managed in a consistent and agreed manner. As your team becomes more comfortable using and depending on your CRM to give them the data they need to do their jobs well, governance become increasingly important to ensure the policies, security, and strategies agreed upon are being properly implemented and that they align with your business intelligence objectives.

CRM training for your team 

With so many different features and tools to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Many nonprofit executives and practitioners cringe at the mere mention of their CRM, because it feels more like a burden than a support. To curb this, either from the get-go or to course correct, there are numerous online certifications and courses you and your team can take to learn how to use your CRM for your needs. Here are a few training resources that we recommend: 

  • LinkedIn Learning – For beginners to experts, LinkedIn Learning has online courses you can enroll in to learn how to use your CRM software. With walkthrough videos and guides, this is a great place to develop a new skill.
  • Trailhead – For enterprise-level organizations using Salesforce, Trailhead offers easy-to-use online tutorials. Many are free and the courses can be taken at your own pace.

While these are great starting points, your team may also benefit from specialized training that is focused on your exact organizational structure and needs. Working with a consultant that specializes in mapping your digital ecosystem, setting up your CRM platform, and training your team to navigate its functionality may make the most sense. This is especially valuable in cases where you have an existing CRM that is not being used (or liked!) by your team, and it’s time to press the reset button, or the concept and use of a CRM is 100% new to your team members.

A strong CRM governance plan

Managing a CRM requires a real commitment from both its administrators and champions, as well as its day-to-day users. It is of utmost importance to implement best practices regarding your CRM within your organization from the start so that data is not lost, misused, inputted incorrectly, or mismanaged. Here are some effective ways to set up a governance structure for your CRM’s use.

  • Create ownership rules. Clear ownership lines over datasets is important to keeping data clean and valuable. For example, if someone adds a new contact/client, who owns this contact and future updates? Is it that person? Or depending on the contact type, is a particular department lead? Establish such rules can reduce multiple data update errors.
  • Take an agile approach. Roll out new features in phases as they are ready to be used. Taking this approach allows your team to learn and use the tool at a reasonable pace so that they can understand each piece and its value correctly. For example, you may want to start with straightforward contact and organization management so you can focus on training your team on how to effectively integrate their ongoing communication and update records. Once your team is comfortable using the system, you can introduce additional features such as automation, campaign management, and case management, as well as the integration of third party systems like your email marketing platform or donor management system. 
  • Ensure data is updated regularly. Outdated information can lead to a loss of business or engagement. Whether it is internally or with your clients, information changes quickly. It is important to continuously follow up and make sure you have the most relevant information. If a team member departs, ensure that their contacts are shifted over to a new team member. If contact changes jobs, ensure that both their former position is updated/closed out, and their new one is created.
  • Remove duplicates. As individuals to change roles and organizations, or personal and professional email addresses are used, duplication is a common issue. It is important to periodically update, purge, or merge contact information to reduce the chance of errors, or updates being put in the wrong contact profile.

CRMs are big tools with lots of possibilities which is exactly why they can be feared and disliked. With so much information at your disposal, it can be difficult to navigate how to get the most from your CRM data. Training is absolutely essential to helping your team effectively and positively use your CRM for their needs, and governance allows you to stay organized as a team, and effective as a data intelligence operator.

Get the CRM training and governance support you need

Forum One’s CRM experts work with enterprise-level organizations to select and implement CRM systems that directly support their mission goals. If you’re looking for custom training or support in setting up your governance structure, we would absolutely love to talk. Get in touch today!

Written By

Jeff Traynor

Vice President, Client Services, Forum One