Are you using spreadsheets for your CRM? You need to stop if you want to progress
I have attended a few networking events recently where I have been told proudly (by business people who should know better) that they don’t need CRM because they have spreadsheets to keep all their data.
Spreadsheets are fine up to a point but there are several key reasons why a spreadsheet just doesn’t cut it, if you are going for business growth.
- CRM is more than just a database. A spreadsheet can be a good place to store a lot of data. If you are good with excel and can use data validation and pivot tables then you can slice and dice your data in ways that can be useful. But that’s about the extent of it. Your CRM system will function as your database and much more.
- You can forecast with CRM. Each of your prospects can be given a pre-defined status (such as awaiting decision or proposal offered). The status is assigned a weighted measurement from say, 5% probability of conversion to 95%. Based on the numbers you add to the system or the quote you have generated from the system, your pipeline will give you accurate visibility of forecast in an instant. Yes, I know you can do much of this in a spreadhseet but it requires manipulation as well as input. A CRM just requires the input.
- A CRM drives good behaviour. I use my CRM to remind me when to make calls, send emails, complete proposals etc. This kind of task management should happen straight from your system, without too much (if any) intervention from the user. If I need to do something important, I get my system to email me the day before and throw me a pop up reminder as a window in my browser. A spreadsheet can’t do that.
- Good CRM drives better behaviour. Not quite the same as above. Some other features I like to use are KPI scorecards. I like to see how many calls I made last week and I aim to beat it each week so I can see an improving picture. I also like to colour code my opportunities so I am managing by exception. On my opportunities dashboard, the ones which are red need to be actioned urgently because of a looming deadline. The amber ones are the next to be tackled. Everything else can wait.
- You can’t send an email from a spreadsheet. My CRM, NetSuite, has a built in email engine which allows me to email directly from the system. If it’s part of an HTML email marketing campaign, I can see view which customer has received what from the customer dashboard. If it is an individual email from Outlook to Outlook I can also see the chain of correspondence going back and forth from the system.
If you truly want to grow your business then it is essential to get a tool which supports sales staff in all of their endeavors. A spreadsheet is neither efficient nor effective. To be frank, excel just doesn’t cut it.
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Written by Emma Stewart – self professed sales geek and Sales & Marketing Director at Cofficient.