Spreadsheets are an easy to use, well-known way to organize your data. Plenty of businesses rely on spreadsheets to track sales, customer data, and create reports. The problem? Spreadsheets have a lot of shortcomings: you need multiple sheets to track different kinds of data, you can’t track customer relationships, and all of your information is spread across separate devices and salespeople.
Because of these disadvantages, more and more businesses are turning to CRMs, or customer relationship managers. A CRM is an online database of customer information, sales data, and even marketing information. With a CRM, businesses can store all of their data in one place, track individual salespeople’s activity, and easily pull reports.
Wondering if you need a CRM instead of spreadsheets? Let’s talk about what CRMs can do better than spreadsheets.
1. Show a chronological history of your relationship with each contact.
This is by far the most important function of a CRM. With a CRM, you can track every phone call, email, and meeting with a lead or customer, without deleting, losing track of old data, or having to switch spreadsheets. If you’re deleting your last call note in order to add in your latest interaction, you’re losing valuable data. A CRM can keep a chronological history of your relationship without sacrificing past notes or clarity. With a CRM, leaving notes about every call or meeting will keep you up to date for future conversations and give you a log of past touches, too. Plus, you can log email threads to contacts, no copying or pasting necessary.
2. Keep all of your information in one place.
If you use spreadsheets to track your business, you not only need multiple sheets to track all of your data, but multiple apps to keep your business going, too. With a CRM, all of your data is together. One CRM can hold the content of dozens of spreadsheets and the functionality of multiple apps: activity reports for each member of your team, contact data, sales data, your calendar, emails, documents, and more. You won’t need to search multiple spreadsheets, email threads, or file folders to find information — it will all be in your CRM.
Plus, you know the information is accurate when it is housed and updated in one place. You won’t need to cross reference sheets or pull individual reports from each salesperson in order to have a complete picture of your business and sales funnel.
3. Proactively remind you of follow ups.
A spreadsheet can’t tell you who you’re supposed to call each day, when your meetings are, or what follow ups you forgot to do the day before. A CRM can. It will proactively remind you of what you need to do each day, as well as help you schedule any future calls, follow ups, or meetings.
With a CRM, you’ll get an email of your agenda each day that includes the day’s tasks, events, and anything overdue. Plus, you can get email and text message reminders before events to give you time to prepare any materials or get to the right location. In your CRM, you can check your calendar and task report for events and to-dos; you can also look at each contact’s record to see future scheduled touches and your past follow up history.
4. Encourage your team to collaborate.
Unlike a spreadsheet, a CRM can meaningfully share data, tasks, and events across multiple users. Multiple people can be logged in at the same time, making edits, and assigning each other calendar items or contacts, and the CRM can track everyone’s activity separately. Depending on the level of collaboration you want to have, you can set user permissions to access other users’ contacts and calendars, or keep everyone’s stuff private. If your team is working on a client’s project together, you can check out each other’s’ notes and emails on a client’s record so that you are always up to date on where the project is at. You can also assign tasks to one another and schedule internal meetings with your CRM’s calendar without having to email back and forth to see who is free.
5. Keep your team accountable.
A CRM will be more valuable than a spreadsheet around performance review time or 1:1 meetings with your staff. With task and activity reports in your CRM, you can make sure that your employees are completing their follow ups, sending emails, and calling leads. A spreadsheet isn’t going to show you emails sent or ticked off tasks, and it may be hard to search for updates made by a single employee. With a CRM, you can assign leads and tasks to your employees, pull activity reports, and check out their pipelines for review.
6. Give you access to data on the go.
Spreadsheets aren’t exactly travel friendly; they’re not easy to view via mobile and you might just feel like waiting until you get back into the office to update your team on the day’s meetings. With a CRM, you can search for and create contacts, leave meeting notes, and see your daily agenda all from your phone or tablet. By recording your notes and contact info immediately, you’re less likely to forget what happened during a meeting or lose a new phone number or email.
Cloud-based CRMs can sync across users and devices so that no matter where you are, you can keep your database accurate and your team updated, too. You won’t have to wait for the end of the day to make notes, or until you can get back into the office to access a spreadsheet.
7. Automatically backup your data.
Many CRM companies will automatically backup your account data. In case of emergency— let’s say you accidentally delete a record or a disgruntled employee messes up the notes on your account— the CRM company can restore the lost or changed data. Most CRM companies are going to securely encrypt and store your data in multiple off site locations. With a spreadsheet, backing your data up is your own responsibility, and you’ll have to figure out your own system for securing and storing those backups.
8. Have customer support.
If you’re keeping your data in a spreadsheet, you need to train your team, standardize data entry, and maybe even hire an Excel wizard to help you pull reports. With a CRM, you can ask customer service to do all of that for you. Great customer service will demo the software to your team, customize your account, talk through workflows, and show you how to pull reports, import data, and more.
The Bottom Line
You already know that you can keep all of your data in one place on a CRM, but imagine just what that will do for your business. Instead of looking across multiple spreadsheets, having to duplicate and manipulate the data to pull a report, and emailing your employees for their data, you can go to one place before sales meetings or monthly reviews to find everything you need to know. This will save you time and give you a more accurate picture of how your business is doing.
Now that you have a better handle on your business and a system that will remind you of calendar items, you can actually start following up with old customers and building stronger relationships. With your CRM data, you can pinpoint bottlenecks in your sales process, develop more efficient follow up methods, or find the average number of touches it takes to make a sale. With more data and better organization, you can implement real change at your business. A CRM can help you improve your business because it gives you the space and tools to grow!
Already looking for a spreadsheet replacement? Check out Capterra’s list of Top CRM Software.