By Caleb Johnson, Director of Strategic Accounts, Expertus
How can you make training irresistible?
Make it easy. Make it relevant. Make it available in-the-moment. And when you’re training sales teams, channel partners or customers, nothing drives adoption better than integrating a cloud LMS with Salesforce. Why?
First, let’s look at sales teams. When you combine LMS and CRM data to inform and deliver training at the point of least resistance, learning becomes a natural part of daily work life. Salesforce is the ideal environment for embedded sales training, because it’s where your salespeople spend most of their time. Your sales reps, your solutions specialists, your help desk staff — everyone who works with prospects and customers depends on Salesforce as a business tool. Integrating LMS logic with a CRM platform makes it easy for your entire organization to stay skilled, informed and on-track.
3 Salesforce/LMS Integration Tips
When companies move to Salesforce/LMS integration, they often ask me how to make the most of this approach. Here are three ways to make a big difference:
Tip #1: Sync Data Between Systems
To get actionable intelligence from your analytics, you need the right underlying data. It must be complete, accurate and up-to-date. It’s not enough to simply link Salesforce to your LMS by setting up single sign-on (SSO). You need to go beyond that by setting up a process to sync real-time data between systems.
In particular, your LMS should let you store your organization’s training history and activity in your Salesforce org. This helps your leaders and sales team several ways. For example:
• When analyzing sales performance, you can overlay training insights. Let’s say you believe your top sales people are also the most educated, and they use your LMS most actively as a resource. Imagine how useful it would be to see statistics that support those assumptions.
• When making business decisions, you’ll be better informed. Many companies track customer and partner profiles in Salesforce. But what if — in addition to all the interaction data Salesforce makes available to help maximize relationship revenue and loyalty — you could also know which customers have earned product certification, or which partners have completed their annual training requirements?
Tip #2: Leverage Your CRM System of Record to Extend Training Reach
If your company is like many today, Salesforce is the lifeblood of your success. All of your customer, partner and marketing data lives there. It makes perfect sense to be sure all of this business-critical information is also captured in downstream systems — especially in your LMS.
But don’t settle for integration that only lets you focus on one audience. You shouldn’t have to choose between your sales team, your partners or your customers. Instead, look for an LMS that is robust and flexible enough to handle all of your training intelligence from across diverse groups. This multi-dimensional capacity helps you make better-informed decisions, and improve learning outcomes across-the-board.
Here are a few real-world examples:
• With all of your customer information in your LMS, you can notify the right contacts quickly, easily and reliably about training requirements, new content and events. No more weak or broken communication.
• If you gain or lose partners — or if they become certified to offer new products and services — the changes are immediately reflected in your LMS. You can see these updates in related reports, and quickly modify partner training paths accordingly. Everything is at your fingertips when you need it. Nothing is overlooked, and no opportunities are wasted.
• Customers and partners often want to get started with training as soon as possible. With real-time access to Salesforce data, you can immediately set-up new accounts in your LMS, so people can begin training when they are ready to move forward. No more frustrating delays.
Organizations that have embraced two-way integration between their CRM system of record and their learning hub have better insight into customer behavior, and they operate more efficiently because their sales team, support group and channel partners get the right information at the right time. As a result, sales cycles are shrinking, help desk ticket turnaround is accelerating, customer churn is decreasing, and partner revenues are increasing.
Tip #3: Make Workflows Work Harder for You
When you take advantage of the unique architecture of the Salesforce platform — in tandem with the unique capabilities of a Salesforce-savvy LMS — the payoff can be huge.
The genius of Salesforce is that you can easily build software and applications on top of it to satisfy almost any business need. But even Salesforce has its limits — and that’s where logic from a well-designed LMS is like putting Salesforce on steroids! For example, there’s an “intelligence engine” in ExpertusONE that leverages the inherent workflow flexibility, business rules and highly accessible data in Salesforce.
Here’s one way this “intelligence engine” works. Let’s say you want to simplify partner management and entitlements by establishing three distinct relationship levels — Silver, Gold and Platinum. Using partner information from Salesforce and the “intelligent groups” capability in ExpertusONE you cab automatically tailor, prescribe and guide learning paths for partners in each relationship level. This means, among other things, you can:
• Establish group-specific training recommendations;
• Customize training alerts and banners;
• Distribute relevant email promotions and notices about upcoming courses and events;
• Map each partner’s status and progress on the road to certification.
I see many companies build custom solutions with minimal investment in time and money. To give you an idea of what’s possible, here are several examples from organizations that use ExpertusONE with Salesforce:
• Automate training approvals
Participants in many partner education programs must request access to classes. This requires an approval workflow. When reviewer records and course decision criteria are housed in Salesforce, the LMS can initiate approval requests by notifying Salesforce directly. As soon as approval is granted (or denied), Salesforce updates ExpertusONE. This seamless integration is managed through a standards-based API, so it eliminates cumbersome, time-consuming manual processes for everyone involved.
• Automate payment with training credits
Organizations often choose to offer training credits as a payment option. Two-way integration makes this a simple process. During the check-out stage of registration, the LMS sends Salesforce all necessary data to validate a purchase — just like credit card payment processing. If enough credits are available in an account, Salesforce approves the purchase and notifies ExpertusONE on-the-fly. Transaction complete. Easy. Efficient. Effective.
Stronger Data Connections Mean Stronger Business Results
These days, organizations need every technology advantage to increase revenue and profits. Learning programs can play an integral role in supporting those goals. It may mean providing embedded performance support that goes along anywhere your sales reps travel — or delivering more relevant certification training to global channel partners — or offering timely post-sales product knowledge to improve new customer relationships.
Whatever your objectives, it starts with having reliable, timely insights to understand where your learning strategies will make a difference, and the flexibility to deliver solutions where they will make the biggest impact. With a seamless, two-way connection between Salesforce and your LMS, you can address both of these needs in powerful new ways.
Does your organization integrate Salesforce with your LMS? What business challenges are you addressing? And what outcomes have you seen? Please share your story in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: To see how a mobile-first next-gen LMS can transform learning for your sales teams, partners and customers, visit our website, watch the ExpertusONE LMS for Salesforce online demo now, or contact us anytime to schedule a personalized demo.
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