crm vs excel


When it comes to sales process management, as a business owner or sales manager ask yourself,

“Saving more money or Making more profit – What is my business priority?”

You can definitely save money by using spreadsheets to manage client database. It can also make you look good in front of the cost-conscious higher management or in your own report card esp. if you’re the owner.

However, there are two things to consider:

  • A CRM is not just contact management.
  • Saving money by incorporating other functions of  CRM in Excel could actually cost you more.

CRM is more than contact management

A lot of the businesses use or assume that a CRM is nothing more than a client database management system. However, benefits of CRM system go way beyond that.

A CRM offers an end to end customer solution. From lead management, sales automation, deal management to customer support, a CRM can help a business throughout the customer cycle and also in reporting, forecasting and much more.

Modern CRM platforms such as Salesforce go much further, integrating with marketing automation and customer service systems to provide a complete, cloud-based ecosystem for managing customer data.

You might also be interested in: 3 ways to use CRM to improve business profitability

Why Using Excel for CRM functions is not good for business?

A lot of businesses use spreadsheets for managing their business operations.

Spreadsheets are easy to understand by most employees and require low to no training.

Another reason for incorporating spreadsheets in business operation is that spreadsheets like MS Excel have functions which make the organization of information easy.

Spreadsheets are great for the initial phase of a business, but as your business start to gain momentum, more clients start coming in which leads to more and more information.

Not only this, with an expanding business, the to-do lists, revenue tracking, business forecasts and leads have their own spreadsheets.

Before you realize, you have a spreadsheet to keep a track of other spreadsheets!

Due to such overwhelming information and organization, discrepancies start to arise in business. Loss of leads, information and discrepancies in tracking revenue are few of the many problems that may take over your operations.

Such issues can easily stagnate the business growth or even put it in an abyss.

So, what is the solution?

The most simple and efficient solution is to ditch spreadsheets and adopt a CRM from the early days of your business.

So, here are five reasons why you need to give up spreadsheets for a CRM:

1. You end up with scattered information & compromised data integrity

Scattered information is the biggest disadvantages of using excel as CRM.  And with multiple users tapping the same source of information, it’s so easy to end up with multiple copies of files.

With multiple copies and no audit trails in place, maintaining consistency and integrity of data is almost impossible.

The problem gets compounded when internal teams use multiple platforms for storing project and customer data. It just doesn’t lead to inconsistent data but also impacts team efficiency.

CRM systems help in reducing the risk of losing data and allow you to keep a single repository of all customer related information. So from your customer profiles to sales information, everything can be stored & accessed at the right time from one sole place.

2. Lack of automation leads to mismanagement and productivity loss

Your sales team’s primary job is to sell; hence it makes absolute sense to save their time from doing redundant tasks manually.

Automation is not available as part of Excel’s standard capabilities. Also, Excel isn’t really meant to be much of a collaborative document.

Let’s take an example to understand how these two constraints lead to loss of productivity and mismanagement in sales process.

As a sales manager, you may be required to assign the leads to various sales reps based on certain criteria. Also, you may need to send pre-sales and post sales follow up emails to customers at scheduled intervals. Once you manually log in details into excel, it all ends there, unless another manual intervention is made. When such processes are not automated, it leaves scope for human error and also leads to productivity loss.

Excel sheets have to be programmed to achieve this functionality using macros, etc., but as mentioned earlier, Excel is not a collaborative document by design.

With CRM software, you can create workflow rules and associate workflow alerts, tasks and field updates with them. Additionally, you can set up case escalation rules and also assignment rules for leads, contacts and cases generated via web forms.

New age CRMs allow automation in workflow management, approval processes, task scheduling, escalations, etc, thereby saving time and effort of team members.

3. Even perfectly maintained spreadsheets cannot prevent leads from slipping through the cracks

Do you remember when jotting down leads with pen and paper gave way to using Excel spreadsheets? Eventually, there comes a time when Excel reaches its limit; you start missing sales appointments.

With dozens of spreadsheets, your team is bound to miss out on a lot of valuable leads or follow ups with potential prospects.

With a growing team, even a small business can mismanage tracking sales activities, in spite of decent email trails and up-to-date spreadsheets. And when the sales cycles are longer, or worse, of variable length of time, lack of coordination between the sales team is a perfect opportunity for leads to slip through the cracks.

That’s exactly what happened with our client who we later helped migrate to Salesforce Essentials CRM. Their website leads used land up directly in the email inbox. The sales rep manually entered the opportunity/ lead into custom software or a spreadsheet. She then established contact with the lead to qualify it, update the spreadsheet with her comments. She arranged for the site survey, coordinated with the engineer and scheduled the survey date. The team of engineers upload their filed data on Google Drive. This was manageable with a smaller number of leads, but confusion starts building up when the business started receiving higher number of leads every day.

Imagine the pain of the sales manager when he tried to keep a constant pulse on the daily sales processes. Following up with the lead after the survey, negotiations, call logs. How much can up-to-date emails and spreadsheets help here?

4. Reporting and forecasting is time consuming (and painful)

When it comes to reporting, spreadsheets can really be a pain, not including the effort it would take to compile all the information from the countless spreadsheets.  It can give deal and opportunity data, but cannot provide forecasts. The managers generally apply their experience and manipulate the data based on their gut feel or guess at what the numbers are going to be. Or perhaps apply advanced functions to arrive at the figures.

This is where a CRM like Salesforce can be pivotal in making your reporting and forecasting efficient. A CRM can take the data and give you a better analysis, whether it is reports or sales forecast.

Our client was facing a similar problem before they moved to Salesforce.

From deal acquisitions to closure, there were many stages like surveys, reports, design, etc. They couldn’t get visibility at the higher level i.e. which deal is at what stage of the process. As a result, they couldn’t project cash flows or do sales forecasting. Once they moved to Salesforce, they got better visibility for each opportunity. From lead to qualified lead to opportunity, it’s now easier to funnel and find out at what stage the leads are. For opportunity at every stage, they can add probability and project cashflows at any given stage helping in monthly, quarterly, etc forecasting.

5. Spreadsheets are not exactly travel friendly for team to access data on the go

Sales team members are working on the go nowadays and not necessarily tied to their desks. Logging all these interactions is important for customer relationship management. But spreadsheets are not exactly travel-friendly, are they?

So every time you wish to log these interactions in your Excel CRM, you might just feel like waiting until you get back into the office. On the other hand, modern cloud-based CRM like Salesforce offer mobile friendly interface enabling you to access data on the go encouraging you to update data from wherever you are. That helps in keeping your data and team up to date.

So, is it time to switch to CRM?

Excel is a powerful tool to achieve what it is designed for. But when it comes to using Excel as CRM, spreadsheets offers savings accompanied with lot of roadblocks coming in the way of revenue growth.

If your organization is using Excel as CRM, it’s time to upgrade to a modern cloud based CRM for all the reasons (backed by experience) shared in this article.

When looking at the top CRM systems vendors, a simple search will show you that Salesforce put cloud-based customer relationship management on the map, and is an award winning CRM solution.

You might also be interested in: Zoho vs Salesforce CRM

Already looking for a spreadsheet replacement? Contact Cymetrix Software. Cymetrix Software can offer consultation to guide your Salesforce CRM project. Cymetrix is one of the leading Salesforce consulting partners and a trusted technology adviser for SMEs. The company has offices in San Francisco, USA and Mumbai, India.