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Updated on September 14, 2023
Best CRM Courses and Certification Programs
What Are CRM Courses and Certification Programs?
Why Should You Take a CRM Course or Certification Program?
Top Three CRM Courses
Top Three CRM Certifications
Whether you’re brand-new to CRMs or are an old hat at it, a CRM course or certification program can be a great boon to your professional resume and business, as it proves your proficiency and teaches you the most up-to-date tips for making the most of your CRM.
But which course or certification exam should you take? Our round-up of the best CRM courses and certification programs of 2023 will answer that question, helping you determine which program would be best for you and your business.
CRM courses are training lessons designed to teach businesspeople new business topics or train them in how to use a vendor’s CRM.
CRM certification exams provide credentials for businesspeople seeking to verify their expertise in using a particular CRM system.
Three of the best CRM course programs you could take are HubSpot Academy, SalesForce Administrator, and Zoho Spark.
Three of the best CRM certification exam programs you could take are Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fundamentals, Zendesk Support Administrator, and NetSuite SuiteFoundation.
What Are CRM Courses and Certification Programs?
CRM courses or certification programs are offered by CRM vendors as a way for a businessperson to prove their proficiency and learn how to make the most of their CRM system.
The programs usually cover development aspects for customizing, managing, and maintaining the CRM platform to ensure ease of use for both users and customers. Each CRM is unique, so each vendor offers its own program for its own system.
As the best practices for customer-facing roles and the software platforms themselves change, this change also means that CRM courses and certifications are only relevant for a brief window of time. As such, most programs require a brush-up recertification exam after a few years.
Additionally, several CRM vendors offer certification programs for several different business fields in which their program can be used, such as customer support, sales, app development, and more. Though we’ve collected this round-up based on the most comprehensive programs, you can browse each vendor’s website to find a program that’s tailored to your specific needs.
Why Should You Take a CRM Course or Certification Program?
Just like taking new classes in school, taking a CRM course or studying for a CRM exam can teach you new things about your CRM that you didn’t know before, helping you leverage your business’s CRM system to its fullest potential.
Consider this: currently, around 80% of organizations use CRM systems for sales reporting and process automation, and the global CRM market is expected to grow at an annual growth rate CAGR of 13.9%, from 2023 to 2030. CRM is only going to become more and more commonplace as time goes on.
That means it’s no longer going to be enough for businesses to simply possess a CRM system. As CRMs become par for the course as an industry standard, businesses must innovatively use these tools to their fullest potential to stay ahead of the competition. And to do that, employees must be trained to customize the CRM platform, tailoring it to augment operations to their fullest potential.
On a more personal scale, individual employees who receive CRM certificates or certifications can also leverage the credentials on their resumes, helping them apply for more technical or managerial positions.
Top Three CRM Courses
First up, we have our CRM courses, which are training or learning modules designed to teach businesspeople about how to use the company’s CRM. Some courses also offer an exam at the end to prove your knowledge.
First, we have HubSpot Academy, offered by HubSpot. Rather than providing a few courses in using its free CRM or other software tools, HubSpot offers the most comprehensive curriculum by far, including over 500 classes in widespread topics such as:
Social media marketing for different platforms
CMS best practices for developers
These courses range in duration from less than an hour to up to seven hours (from what we’ve seen), and are all offered completely free upon account creation. While some are simply courses, others offer certification badges that can be integrated into your LinkedIn profile. These certified courses require recertification every 13 or 25 months, depending on the course.
In summary, HubSpot offers free, relevant, and efficient courses for almost every business-related topic under the sun. As an entry-level way to expand business owners’ knowledge bases, we believe HubSpot to be the top choice for a CRM course.
2. Salesforce Administrator
Through the Salesforce Administrator certification program, businesspeople can learn to customize their Salesforce platform to “build, configure, and automate technology solutions to deliver business value.” While a manager or worker at a company could take this certification program to help their business make the most of its Salesforce CRM, Salesforce’s popularity also makes it viable for freelancers to be hired at enterprising companies based solely on their Salesforce Admin credentials.
Salesforce estimates that it takes around 115-125 hours of studying its online courses to learn all the required material for the exam, which costs $200 to take for the first time. Once you gain your certification, you’ll have to take a maintenance module every year to maintain it.
The test covers aspects of Salesforce CRM such as:
Configuration and setup
Object manager and lightning app builder
Sales and marketing applications
Service and support applications
Productivity and collaboration
Data and analytics management
Workflow and process automation
Salesforce also offers a variety of other badges and certifications for other functional roles, such as Platform App Builder, CPQ Specialist, Strategy Designer, and Security Specialist.
3. Zoho Spark
Finally, we have Zoho Spark, the education center for all of Zoho CRM’s products. Zoho Spark offers classes for all of the different business tools supported by its platform, such as:
Email and collaboration
Security and IT management
BI and analytics
On top of individual pricing for $299 per course, Zoho Spark also offers group pricing for teams of three people or more for $239 each, which is a good discount for businesses who want to educate multiple employees. Courses span anywhere from one to four days worth of instruction, after which the student will receive a certificate of completion. Afterwards, customers can then choose to take a certification exam for an additional $99.
A big boon of Zoho Spark’s program is that you can choose between virtual classrooms where a live teacher teaches several students at designated class times, or flexible one-on-one online tutoring where live classes are scheduled around the student’s schedule. Compared to other courses that use simple pre-recorded online modules, Zoho Spark’s classroom or one-on-one training provides the most in-depth knowledge and first-hand access to a real expert.
The three CRM programs discussed here focus more on the certification exam, usually only recommending exam takers have experience using the CRM platform itself with some minor brush-up review. In other words, rather than being focused on learning new skills, these certification exams serve to prove your pre-existing skills and expertise with the specific platform.
By taking the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fundamentals exam, you can prove your proficiency in Microsoft’s suite of customer engagement apps to potential employers. The exam covers the basics of business operations, customer engagement, and the core capabilities of apps found in Microsoft’s Dynamic 365 CRM, such as:
Dynamics 365 Marketing
Dynamics 365 Sales
Dynamics 365 Customer Service
Dynamics 365 Field Service
The exam costs $99 USD, and is offered in almost every country in a variety of different languages. If you reside in the US, you can choose to take the exam either in person or online.
Though the exam doesn’t require the completion of a training course, the heavy focus on Microsoft’s specific applications, rather than on general-use knowledge, means that you’ll likely need to follow Microsoft’s designated study guide, or shadow a user of the CRM to gain the required knowledge. Additionally, it also means that the certification is practically worthless to companies that don’t use Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM.
2. Zendesk Support Administrator
The Certified Zendesk Support Administrator Expert Exam recognizes those who have expert-level experience using Zendesk Support, serving as a badge of merit that the holder has all the knowledge and skills to “implement, configure, and manage an Enterprise account of Zendesk Support.” It’s recommended that test-takers have at least three months of experience as a Zendesk Support Administrator, and complete a three-hour training module through Zendesk.
The test covers the following topics:
Automated business rules
Security and data persistence
The downside to this exam is that Zendesk is, first and foremost, a customer support-focused software system, rather than an all-in-one CRM solution that covers marketing, sales, and support. This means it’s mostly used by larger companies who can afford such hyper-specification, and that test-takers likely won’t be able to transfer this expertise to a new system if their company switches to a new vendor. Similarly, if the employee changes jobs, there’s a fairly low chance that the Zendesk certification will be useful there, as well if the employee changes jobs.
3. NetSuite SuiteFoundation
Finally, we have the SuiteFoundation exam for the NetSuite ERP solution developed by Oracle. The test covers fundamental elements of NetSuite, such as:
Features and standard modules (CRM and ERP)
Company and user preferences
Relationships of users, roles, and permissions
Customization options of the UI
Dashboards, reports, and searches
Standard record types and their structures
NetSuite product release process
The exam costs $250, and is a live proctored virtual examination. It’s recommended that test takers have at least three to six months’ worth of experience using NetSuite, and complete a small series of training courses and workshops prior to taking the exam.
This certification exam is wonderful for managers or administrators in companies that have recently adopted NetSuite for their business. However, unlike the rest of the courses and exams in this guide, NetSuite is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that spans all business functions such as inventory, sales orders, and financials, rather than simply managing customer-facing roles like a CRM system does. As such, NetSuite and the SuiteFoundation exam should only be used by medium- or enterprise-sized companies that are looking to integrate all of its business processes into one system.
CRM courses and certifications can teach you new things about your business’s CRM platform, or show to the world that you’re qualified to be your business’s go-to expert on the system. Each CRM vendor offers its own unique course and exam tailored to its platform, so it’s best to choose a system and certification that matches your business and career goals.
After taking a CRM course or certification exam, you can customize and leverage your business’s CRM platform to its fullest potential, polishing business processes into a well-oiled machine and eking out competitors to provide consumers with the most wonderful customer experience.
What’s the difference between a CRM certificate and CRM certification?
Although they’re only three letters off, there’s a huge difference in the caliber of a CRM certificate and CRM certification. A CRM certificate only means that you completed a course or training program. On the other hand, a certification means that you completed the course or program and then passed a test at the end to prove your knowledge, or simply passed the test by itself.
If you’re stuck between getting a CRM certificate or certification, be aware that while CRM certifications are more expensive, they also could look better in the eyes of managers and employers, as they show you have a certain level of expertise.
Why should I not get a CRM course or certification program?
Let’s not put the cart before the horse: if your company doesn’t use a CRM or isn’t planning on getting one, you, of course, shouldn’t preemptively shell out the money for a CRM program, or waste your time on a course.
And speaking of shelling out money, even if you have a CRM, the program or exam cost can be an intense barrier to a certificate or certification. Most courses or programs start at a hundred dollars and require recertification every few years. As such, we’d only recommend investing in a course or certification for at least medium-sized businesses that have the cash flow to cover the cost for its employees.
Which CRM certification or course should I take?
If your company already has a CRM in place, you should take the course or certification that’s offered by your CRM vendor to have the best product-knowledge fit. The same goes for if your company doesn’t have a CRM yet, but is looking into buying one — buy first, and then take the course.
If you’re absolutely new to the industry, we’d recommend checking out HubSpot’s certification courses in varying topics, since they’re fairly short and free to take.
However, if you’re looking to pad your resume with a high-level certification, we’d recommend taking the Salesforce Administrator exam. According to Statista, Salesforce is the leading CRM provider, having a 21.3% share of the CRM market. That means that a certification in Salesforce could open up quite a few more doors than a certification for a less-used CRM.