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One of the things I have been asked quite a bit is how did I become a CRM Consultant. My degree is in Hotel and Catering Institutional Management… in fact, it’s not even a degree but something called a Higher National Diploma. It’s got NOTHING to do with computers. I say that to show that ANYONE could do this job if they have the passion and desire. However, be realistic…. if you aren’t at all technically minded…. this probably isn’t for you. Here are a few pointers that might help if you are thinking this might be the job for you.
Yeah, this is the first thing. In order to know if you want to become a consultant and make it your career, you have to know something about CRM. In order to know it, you kind of have to use it to some degree. I was very lucky. A previous employer implemented it as the company CRM of choice (back with CRM 2011). Overtime I picked it up, would train others on it and became a power user. Eventually I managed and maintained the system as a global administrator for the organisation. It didn’t happen overnight but the more I used it, the more I loved it, and the more I would help other users with their own knowledge of the system. If you don’t currently use it as part of your job, there are tons of videos and tutorials to be found online. After watching some, I would suggest setting up a trial environment that you can use to play around in. Get a feel for the system and see if you think it’s still something you are interested in. You can get started with a trial here. Also, note, people call it different things…. but if you already know CRM (2011, 2013, 2015 or 2016) you can pick up D365 EASILY!
This isn’t as easy as it sounds… but having someone you respect, admire and can learn from that knows and understands the industry is huge. There will be times you are stuck, confused, frustrated, need help figuring out your best career move, want input in a tricky issue you have, or just someone to vent to. Mentors can be great for all of that. Like I said, it’s not easy, and you can’t just find someone and say, hey, you are now my mentor. They don’t have to be a CRM Consultant themselves, but would be good if they at least have a level of understanding of the role and what it entails. Sometimes you might not even realise you already have one but can point to someone in your life that fulfils that role for you. I’m lucky to have an amazing one, and she might not even consider herself to be mine, but she’s been there for years (you know who you are) so thank you for always believing in me, pushing me and supporting me…. oh and being an amazing friend too. 🙂
As with having a great mentor, being part of an amazing community is huge too. If you aren’t already a part of the Microsoft Dynamics Community, check out my post here about what’s so awesome about it. There are also smaller communities out there just waiting to help and embrace you (if you are ready for it! 😉 ). If you are a social media user and are on Twitter, you can follow specific hashtags or lists to find other like minded people who have embraced Dynamics CRM. You can find people, or search for the #MSDynCRM or #MSDyn365 hashtags to find latest tweets which will be a goldmine of updates, news and blog posts to learn from. If you are a fan of LinkedIn, there are a ton of groups out there such as the CRM Experts Group, Dynamics CRM Experts, or the Dynamics CRM & 365 Experts groups. Then there are communities like Those Dynamics Guys, an awesome place to learn created by Chris Huntingford, Kyle Hill and Will Dorrington.
So once you’ve been using it for a while (either at work or in your own time), start learning new stuff. I’ve only been blogging about this for about 10 months and haven’t even begun to cover a small fraction of what Dynamics 365 CRM can do. One of the great things about the community at large is the number of people who are also a CRM Consultant out there doing the same as me, sharing knowledge and ideas. There are also people of all different levels. There are blogs I could never really understand a few years ago that now I will read and learn from because I have more knowledge myself. So find someone that writes in a way you can understand and is aimed at a little above the level of knowledge you currently have. That way you can always learn more. Subscribe to their blogs, follow them on Twitter and absorb as much as you can. Also, don’t worry about switching off from these every once in a while. I subscribe to a lot but every once in a while I need to take a break from information overload. My brain can only take so much in, and some weeks are crazy with the level of work, my own personal learning has to take a back seat. Those articles will still be there once you have time to read through them. Check out my list of links here, and let me know if you have any you think I should add! Some to note, Matthew Webb’s Dynamics CRM Blog and Mark Christie with Dynamics365 Blogs which is a great 1 stop place compiling blogs from all kinds of bloggers in the industry.
Yes, say it. If you don’t know, it’s OK, but then make it your mission to find out. Don’t worry about looking like an idiot, thinking people will think you are stupid blah blah blah. It doesn’t matter. Everyone was in your shoes at one time or other. And yes, it’s even OK to say it to a client, if it’s said in the right way. Don’t say no just because you don’t know. You will be asked all the time to create workflows or functionality that you aren’t sure how to accomplish. So, something like, ‘I’m not sure, I haven’t provided that functionality before, but I will find out and if it’s possible, we can accomplish that for you’. Chances are that along the way of finding out, you will learn several more cool things on the journey. Google is great, forums are great, and the communities you become a part of are even better.
Name a CRM consultant that hasn’t made any mistakes, and they are lying. Yes, everyone has made mistakes, some MAJOR mistakes. At the time they make you feel sick to your stomach, and it’s not great having to unpick the mess you have made, but boy, are those the BEST learning experiences ever! At least they should be. If you do something stupid due to lack of knowledge or experience just make sure you learn from it and don’t do it twice. Take those lessons with you to help improve your CRM Consultant approach to business analysis, customisation and configuration.
Maybe this should have been at the top, because without passion… you probably won’t enjoy being a CRM Consultant. Seriously, if you love what you are doing, it won’t feel like work. If you have a thirst for knowledge, want to figure out cool new tricks and tips, enjoy helping people and providing organisations with functionality that makes a difference and impact in their employees lives day to day…. this is the best job to provide you with all of that. 🙂
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