For new business owners, spreadsheets can be a lifesaver. They can be used to track finances, basic customer data, new leads, etc. However, as your business grows and you need to capture more information, spreadsheets become cumbersome and difficult to manage.
Eventually, you’ll require software that can support your growth, manage your customer relationships and all relevant information effectively, which is fit for both your current needs and those in the future.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software stores all information in a centralized database and offers features to streamline your daily tasks, enhance productivity, increase sales and more.
Below are a few reasons that it may be time to make the move from spreadsheets to a CRM solution...
Firstly, let's take a look at tell-tale signs it’s time you moved away from spreadsheets:
Excessive amount of time spent on admin
When using spreadsheets, administrative time can consume far too much of your employees hours, that could be better spent elsewhere. Even if you have created the best formulas to do the math in the spreadsheet, there is no denying the cost of this approach in the long-term.
You’re not capturing all your data
We all know how easy it is to forget a telephone conversation, especially if you are making multiple calls a day. Therefore, capturing these notes in an efficient way is crucial, and an Excel spreadsheet is not overly well-known for its user-friendliness when it comes to getting a lot of information into a single cell. As a result of this, notes can be lost or forgotten, appointments are easily missed and if someone leaves the company, there is a higher chance of data loss with them.
Limited insight into sales activities
A spreadsheet can only provide so much visibility. For example, could you see quickly and easily how many opportunities are in your pipeline currently? What the reason you lost that deal? What are the chances of a certain percentage of deals closing this month? These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. Spreadsheets can be useful for viewing and calculating the numbers, however, they are limited on their capabilities around gaining insight and the reasons behind the figures.
Data is in various places and it is feeling quite disorganized
Yes, you can create folders and shared drives to store your spreadsheets. However, trying to quickly locate the right folders, for the right client, and understand who has made changes, who else has access, etc., can get quite complicated.
Reporting and forecasting is challenge
Reports and forecasts are essential for a business, both to understand the previous days/months, but also to predict where the business is heading. Spreadsheets can produce various graphs, charts and reports, however, these are usually at a high-level. On top of this, the data is not in real-time and pulling all the most up-to-date information together every time is time-consuming. To gain those all-important insights into your business and forecast effectively, a CRM or a reporting tool is advised.
Do you recognize some of those points within your business? Let’s look at how a CRM can help...
1. Better access to data and enhanced collaboration
When sharing spreadsheets around an organization, things can get pretty complicated quickly. Various versions are in circulation, changes are not being tracked, information is not updated in real-time, users may be saving it down to their desktops to work in it, etc. On top of this, access can be limited for those users who are working from home or on-the-go as spreadsheets are not famous for being mobile-friendly.
To overcome these challenges, a CRM solution centralizes all business information and enables users to view records simultaneously and updates in real time so the latest version is always being worked on. Users can also access the system from any device, anywhere, resulting in a much more positive user experience and less restrictions on your business being tied to the office.
2. Better lead management
Spreadsheets are not designed to show a large amount of data in one go, meaning you have to scroll to view the whole sheet if you have a lot of information. Alongside this, trying to capture detailed notes in a spreadsheet cell is a frustrating user experience, such as inputting call notes from a follow-up with a prospect.
CRM software is designed with lead management at the heart of it. As a result, you get a far better user experience and can capture more detailed information about leads and prospects (e.g. name, email, qualification stage, products/services of interest, previous purchases, notes, etc). From a sales perspective, managers can get a clearer idea of what reps are working on, ensuring that follow-ups are not missed and the correct processes are being followed.
3. Enhanced reporting capabilities
As we mentioned previously, spreadsheets can produce various graphs, charts and reports. However, no matter how good the formulas are, the level of insight you can gain is limited in comparison to what can be achieved with a CRM.
Most CRM systems will have built-in dashboards and reporting which will allow you to examine your information in real-time and understand the why behind it. Additionally, there are integrations available with most software (like Microsoft Power BI) which will allow you to take it a step further and visualize large amounts of data, with drill-down capabilities to interrogate important information.
4. Improved security
Spreadsheets have little security around them, posing a significant security threat. Sensitive information can be easily shared and accessed, as well as the chance of data being easily saved to a personal computer. On top of this, should an employee leave then they could continue to access confidential data unless the password is changed on every spreadsheet.
With a CRM, secure credentials are required to access the system and security permissions can also be set around particular elements, only granting access to users who require access.
When it comes to transferring information between other business systems and programs, then spreadsheets can be restrictive as this is not what they are intended for.
A CRM solution can be easily integrated with the systems you need, allowing all the information you require to be collated in one system.
Another useful integration which is fairly standard across most CRMs is email integration. This allows users to track and view client emails from within the system, so if someone is out of the office then another person can pick up and view the past correspondence.
Time to make the switch?
If any of the information within this article sounds familiar, then you could be ready to move from spreadsheets to a CRM.
Jessica Compton, Marketing Manager for Dynamics 365 Partner, PragmatiQ Solutions