Imagine a basketball team that never trains together (that would be my men’s league team) – the result is a disjointed bunch of good players all playing their hardest, who are surprised week after week that they manage to come second on the score board.

Imagine a basketball team that trained everyone individually. The guards never worked with the forwards and the big guy always worked alone. You would again get some good individuals, but they would find it hard to put it together on the court.

I have been speaking with a number of eOne resellers recently about training their consulting teams and getting them certified on SmartConnect. This is a really exciting conversation to have with large partner organizations committing their teams to making SmartConnect a key component of their solution offering.

Most times I am talking to the professional services manager, the person in charge of implementing ERP or CRM. The services manager has a need to get their consultants trained – so they are able to deliver SmartConnect solutions on time and on budget. The immediate need is to train the consultants who implement because:

  1. This is a new partner who is gearing up their team.
  2. This partner recently ran over budget on an implementation and realized a gap in knowledge.
  3. The partner took on and ambitious project and needs to skill up the team.
  4. An experienced consultant left and they need to spread this knowledge across the team.

We then dig further into the conversation about who should attend this technical training event to ensure the reseller gets the most value for their time investment. 

The first person to add to the training team is:

The Consultant: Everyone agrees with this choice. The consultant needs to be trained or they cannot implement solutions. I would also add that the sales team cannot sell unless they know the consultant can implement it successfully. So full marks here – we need at least 2-3 consultants in the room.

So I say – “What about the Presales Consultant?” This suggestion is often met with a strange look of surprise. The presales guy/girl is usually on a different team – the sales team. They are not under direct control of the services manager – so were not top of mind.

If you are going to train your implementer, it is a 100% requirement to train your Pre-Sales Consultant – the person that does the demos. This is the person that hangs really cool solutions together and amazes customers during the sales process. In 2015, with the mid-market rapidly going back to ‘Best of Breed’ software, integration should be a key component of every sales process.

If you want to sell more product and generate more services hours for the consulting team you need this pre-sales guy/girl on board. We usually agree this is a great idea.

Then I say “let’s get your developer involved.”  Here I get a quizzical look and a why question? The reason for this is that integration is still in 2015 still thought of ‘importing some data from a spreadsheet’. This is something that consultants can do – who needs a developer?

I start asking about integrations with websites and shopping carts. I ask about calling the integration from code. We talk about complex process flows and CRM integrations with marketing engines and customer portals. Now the key here is that the consultant can still build ALL the integration, but they will need some input from the developer in many projects. For example, you are importing orders into Dynamics GP, direct from a custom store on your website. What you need here is for the consultant to build the mapping, and for the developer to generate the XML file and then call the SmartConnect website, passing to it that data. What is awesome here is that the developer is not messing about in GP – but doing what he does best.

So there is an argument to keep the developer out of the training process – BUT when the consultant walks over and says “Can you call this map and pass the data to it?” every developer I know wants to know the details, needs to know how it works. If this statement “Can you call this map and pass the data to it?” means nothing to them – it is hard to get their cooperation.  

The solutions you can deliver by getting your developer involved will be way sexier and add much more value to your customers. It may be hard but insist your developer sits through the training

Then I say – “so when are we doing the sales person training?” The response I get is that sales people do not need to know much – just send them a brochure and a video link. That’s a start but I don’t think it helps you sell. I then say “and make sure the consultants are part of the sales training.” Now I get a look that suggests I just turned into a pumpkin – right there in front of them. I continue to explain that this needs to be a summary session for the whole team. We need about 2 hours to bring everything we taught the consultants and package it into a super demonstration for the sale steam. This way the sales team understand what the consultants have learnt and what they are capable of delivering. 

Equally important in this sales training is that the consultants and developers get to see how the Sales Team will be positioning and selling the solution. Too often I find a sales team positioning a great powerful solution – that gets implemented in a very different way.

So when I get my way – we end up with a great dynamic team in our training session. We have consultants that know the destination products really well, we have the developer that can fill in any gaps and integrate the integration solution in the business process, we have a pre-sales person that can build up business specific demos and we close with a sales session for the entire team.

Just like the successful basketball team that WINS because they training together – you will have a team that can amaze your customers with some very creative integration solutions.