If you ask any sales professional in the world what Salesforce.com does, they would know even if they do not use it. If you any ask most HR and training professionals what Salesforce does, you will get vacant stares and the occasional “Use the Salesforce, Luke” quip. HR/Training and sales pros live in two different worlds (in a galaxy far, far, away).
So what could Salesforce possibly have in common with a learning management system (LMS)? As it turns out, a lot if you have an extended enterprise LMS.
What is Salesforce.com?
Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software solution.
Salesforce can do a wide variety of things but at its core it manages all sales operational activities and data about your prospects and customers. It is the sales person’s and a sales organization’s daily tool and crutch. As a sales individual, it keeps track of your territory, target accounts, contacts, sales opportunities and documents all marketing and sales interactions within those elements. Sales leaders and company executives get macro rolled up sales performance reporting, make forecasts, manage pipelines and run their sales business real-time. Salesforce even keeps managing the prospect after conversion to a customer documenting everything they do, buy or say.
What is an Extended Enterprise LMS?
A learning management system is online software that brings learners and content together and keeps track of it all. There are LMSs for employee, academic and extended enterprise audiences. Corporations in most industries use an extended enterprise LMS to train and certify external channel partners, prospects and customers. An organization’s extended enterprise LMS users are often the same organizations and individuals being tracked and managed in Salesforce and therein lies the opportunity.
Salesforce.com + LMS (If You Don’t Read Anything Else – Read This)
Bring Salesforce and an LMS together and you have the most measurable training platform in history. With shared common audiences, user experiences and most importantly data, organizations have an unprecedented view into the value of training. Have partners sold more or less after being certified? Do customers renew at a higher rate or buy complimentary products when trained vs. untrained? An integrated Salesforce and LMS solution can answer all these questions and many more turning learning into a strategic, measurable tool and competitive differentiator in any industry. Oh yeah.
Salesforce.com and LMS Integration Points
LMSs can be integrated with Salesforce via custom web services or via an app that LMS vendors list on the Salesforce App Exchange. Typical integration points in both approaches include:
- Single sign-on
- Contacts, users, accounts
- Courses, course offerings
- Training assignments and course recommendations
- Progress, completion and certification status
- Sales leads, opportunities, sales
Use Case Examples of the Salesforce LMS Integration
Prospect or customer actions that are documented in Salesforce or the LMS are called “triggers” and they can then cause actions in the other system. The sky is the limit on what workflow triggers can kick off. Here are some use case examples I’ve seen recently:
- Prospects Learning — When a prospect visits a tradeshow booth, downloads a whitepaper, signs up for a blog, gets a demo, registers for a webinar, is sent an email, opens that email, clicks on any link, goes to your website, pages they visit are all being tracked inside Salesforce. Each one of these triggers can be shared with the LMS to drive training recommendations, assignments, promotions and more.
- Customer Learning — Salesforce knows who each of your customers are, what they purchased, when they purchased, renewal dates and any interactions with customer support. Sharing those profile triggers with the LMS can provide custom training plans and recommendations for customer learners. Well trained customers renew at a higher rate and spend more over time.
- Channel Certification — With specialized apps you can create Partner Certification Programs that support a tiered channel relationship structure and launch unique training programs that drive partner entitlements. For example, after completing training to achieve a “Gold Certification,” partners are automatically paid a 30% vs. 20% commission.
- Sales Staff Learning – Whether it is your channel partners’ sales staff or your own, they are already in Salesforce and it’s the perfect place to push them onboarding and ongoing product training. A new tab is deployed in Salesforce application that shows the training plan for reps to accelerate through new hire sales training and then meter lead flow based on ongoing training performance and certification completion.
Who Are the LMS Vendors Embracing Salesforce?
In the last couple of years I reviewed 100 LMSs and so far I’ve found 12 LMS vendors who have integrated with Salesforce, have apps or are building Salesforce apps with a wide diversity of sophistication including NetExam, Cornerstone, Expertus, Blackboard, Docebo, Litmos, eLogic Learning, Skilljar, Paradiso, LogicBay,Saba, ViewCentral and BlueVolt.
Salesforce has been a wild market success because it provides measurable marketing and sales data that allows organizations to make smart business choices. LMSs have done the same for training data. Integrating sales and training workflows and data elevates training from a cost to profit center because you can definitively prove the effectiveness of training and the impact on the business. Progressive LMS vendors are automating the integration providing a business tool that is a lethal competitive advantage. Knowledge is power.
Thanks for reading!
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