December 10, 2018

4 Elements of Effective In-Person Training


As a member of Contactually’s Customer Success team, I have seen a new CRM at work from a unique perspective: Training brokerages in person on Contactually. It’s simply what we do best! With almost five years and hundreds of hours of in-person training under our belts, we have learned exactly what it takes to set up a brokerage for success. I’m excited to share here the four key elements of effective in-person training.

  1. Show Value First
  2. Break It Down
  3. Provide Homework
  4. Surprise & Delight

Before going too deep into Showing Value First, it’s important to remember everything that goes into setting up in-person training -- whether it’s one day or a whole week. Scheduling, A/V logistics, and moving agents around is an art we’ve mastered, with the help of our amazing partner brokerages, of course.

1.  Show Value First

By the time agents are in a room, with wide eyes and surrounded by devices, they typically know what Contactually is...sort of. Brokers can do all sorts of announcements and explanations and internal marketing, but until Customer Success Managers are in the room, agents are sometimes confused as to how Contactually will fit into their lives.

Showing Value First means presenting a simple feature of Contactually and explaining how that feature helped a real agent achieve a very specific goal, such as getting three more listings by the end of the year. This allows agents to envision themselves using Contactually and reaping its benefits, all before signing in! A little buzz goes a long way, and attendees end up being more focused on learning if they know what’s in store.

“Not all our agents are tech-savvy. The Contactually customer service team has been able to walk them through all the technology. There’s no way we could have found as much success without the support of the people who work at Contactually.” - Vanessa Bergmark, CEO/Owner, Red Oak Realty

2. Break It Down

We say it 100 different ways: “walk before you run”, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”, and some other less fitness-related phrases. The point is that it’s imperative to break down the Contactually setup into steps. Although we often hear that our product is much more user-friendly than other CRMs, using every feature on the very first day is usually bad practice. We have designed our 101 and 201 classes, with hands-on workshops in between, to cover all the core features, but in a simple and digestible format. Each class features only five or six slides, with the rest being a live demo with real contacts. This gives us ample time to answer agents’ questions at each major step, starting with contact aggregation, prioritization, and following up directly from Contactually.

My personal favorite part comes next: providing specific Contactually hacks to make getting started even easier. I love seeing the light bulbs go off when agents realize that they can get a handle on their databases that day.

Brenda Tushaus, CEO of RE/MAX Results says, “The best thing about Contactually is ease of use, automatically gets set up, doesn't require too much training.”

3. Provide Homework

Phew - the training is over! After sharing a ton of information, the last thing we want is for agents to forget how to begin. Enter the homework. Each of our sessions concludes with 4 or 5 clear action items agents should do during the hands-on workshop. This provides a chronological structure for the agents to follow and makes sure their accounts are set up the recommended way before doing anything else.

Printed out homework sheets also make agents feel accomplished in their journey with Contactually. We have seen that agents that complete the homework within the first 48 hours of their training are 50% more likely to make Contactually a habit, which is ultimately what will bring them success.

contactually homework checklist.png

4. Surprise & Delight

Most people with experience in product development have heard the phrase “Surprise and Delight.” This refers to the little surprising features in a software product that makes users’ lives easier. At Contactually, we don’t limit this to just the CRM! Making training fun is sometimes not an easy task, but the best part of working in Customer Success is thinking of creative ways to get people excited about using a new solution. You could see friendly competitions based on usage, swag gifts, and interactive exercises (with prizes!!) at our training sessions. A favorite is to give out Amazon gift cards to the first few people who get responses from their messages sent from Contactually.


Not only is it so cool to see people already engaging with their contacts, having a prize on the lineups the stakes. At the end of a Contactually 101 or 201 session, brokers and agents alike will feel a sense of calm that Contactually is more than just a tool; it is a team of people with the shared goal of making them successful.

“The implementation team did a knock out job. The ease of use at the beginning needs to be there. It takes a strong initiative and training at the beginning to drive the high adoption we have seen among our agents.” Geoffrey Bray, Broker/Owner, Engel & Volkers