Five Missteps of Your Advancement CRM Training


Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) training takes time and requires resources and effort from both the users and the organization. A strategic plan for training is necessary to succeed and get the most return on investment of your CRM platform. 


But sometimes missteps happen during your advancement CRM training that hinders adoption. 


We discuss five missteps to consider. 

Misstep #1—Focusing training solely on product knowledge.

One of the most common missteps is when CRM training focuses exclusively on users learning the product. For example, users may be taught which buttons to click and forms to fill out—doing these tasks creates a “good” feeling about training. But this training approach doesn’t promote connection to your organization’s processes or operational tasks—unintentionally disconnecting the user from the application features. 


Training needs to extend beyond product knowledge. For the most impact, training must deliver the knowledge users need to understand the features but also the context for how they should be using them. Additionally, training should include information for using the product to facilitate a specific job function or role within advancement. 


Misstep #2—Offering initial training only at Go Live.

For many institutions, Go Live training is the only training during a CRM implementation. This is a misstep because it creates missed opportunities to deepen the level of understanding. For instance, users went through the actual implementation stage of the project along with you—they’ve been a part of designing and configuring the application—whether actively or passively. The training you deliver at Go Live is taken from “ground zero” because everyone needs to learn the advancement CRM. 


While this approach is critical, you can’t stop there. This may work for a brand-new person hired after Go Live because they’re coming in fresh and need that introductory information. But simply providing materials, videos, or course outlines leaves a big gap for those users who went through the implementation process. These users should be afforded the opportunity to grow and elevate their level of proficiency—potentially reaching an expert level of understanding. 


Misstep #3—Conducting new feature training only once. 

Consider this: You’ve been using your advancement CRM application for a while, and new features or enhancements are available. You decide to implement these changes and showcase the new features through a lunch and learn. Users are excited about the additions and work to implement them into regular use. 


But teaching this new feature during only one lunch and learn is a misstep because there isn’t a point of reference, and it impedes future training opportunities. For example, if users weren’t a part of the institution when this feature came out or was unable to attend the lunch and learn, they might never know about it. 


You also risk having different groups of users with varying knowledge about the application. Avoid this misstep by incorporating the new feature training into the primary training curriculum. 


Misstep #4—Not offering self-service for CRM training users.

Users may be able to mimic the steps taught, but did they comprehend the material? Research says authentic learning is achieved by creating an individualized way of doing something. The concept of self-exploration and discovery of an application solidifies knowledge. 


Training must incorporate educating users about what resources are available to them.


This enables users to understand how to access resources for troubleshooting but also use the material as a reference tool to enhance self-directed understanding. 


Misstep #5—Adopting self-paced training without other learning methods. 

The change in working environments and staff being remote has shifted CRM training to an exclusive self-paced training model. While convenient, this eliminates the need for traditional instructor-led training—whether in-person or remote.


Self-paced training is efficient, especially if you have staff in varying time zones. But offering this type of training solely does not support diverse learning styles. Don’t go back to exclusive traditional instructor-led training. Do consider adding alternative methods if your advancement department has adopted 100% self-paced training. Adding alternative training methods like question-and-answer sessions or opportunities to connect with a network of designated subject matter experts supports self-paced training and enhances the learning experience. Adding these components creates a comprehensive training program that supports diverse learning styles.