Having talked about sales with over 2,000 companies, I often heard such a sentence. Keeping sales metrics in Excel can create a sense that obtaining new customers is under control, and a set of rows and columns is the optimal way of collecting important data. Practice shows that the spreadsheet gives only a partial preview, and the use of a dedicated table is convenient only to a certain extent, or ensuring convenience requires additional work. The biggest problem is that people who have never used a properly configured CRM will probably never notice the costs generated by running sales in Excel. Among other things, to convince such people to change their approach to management and sales analytics – we present them the CRM, which is properly conducted to show opportunities.
By default, Excel allows you to collect primarily numerical data or information that can be summarized in a few words. This is only part of the information explaining why the customer ultimately used or didn’t use our solution. In a relation with a potential client it is very important what we write to him in an e-mail, and what we will say during the conversation. Pasting a few sentences of a message to a cell in the sheet will make this cell illegible at best, and in the worst case the entire table will be unreadable.
CRM enables synchronization of e-mails appearing during conversations with the client, and adding text summaries of conversations and meetings. By not seeing e-mail messages that your sellers send to the customers you probably can’t see a few things that they could do better. It isn’t about controlling their every step, it’s about helping to quickly and effectively develop skills by pointing out tried and tested solutions. This is particularly applicable for people who have recently joined the sales team – will a person who is just getting used to their job ask about all the issues that they could do better? Probably about everything they’re aware of, but such awareness will come with time.
Technically, the capacity of the sheet is large, and it’s possible to add a lot of rows and columns in it. Unfortunately, the ease of filling subsequent cells doesn’t go hand in hand with the legibility of the entire file. Take a look at the screenshot of the sheet above once again. It contains only a few basic pieces of information about the company from the relation, in which only two e-mails were recorded. It’s also necessary to add to the sheet the names of people you are talking to (or the data of several people involved), e-mail address, telephone number, dates of all events, and at least a few more pieces of data.
Multiply all these by several dozen companies times 12 months – after a year, if the sheet still works, it will become gigantic and illegible. It will be possible to run it, but it involves adding columns, rows, bookmarks, functions and formulas, which creating will require time, and the file won’t be transparent anyway. In a properly configured CRM this problem doesn’t happen, because instead of going through excel gymnastics, it’s enough to use a built-in functionality. Why analyzing certain data helps you sell more effectively you will learn from articles about B.A.N.T. and prioritizing leads.
With this entire range of data at your disposal, it’s worth checking how much time Excel will take to calculate the number of activities seller A did in March, or which merchandiser arranges meetings with clients the most effectively. A good CRM counts this automatically. It also creates graphs, without forcing you to select data from a wide set of columns and tables.
A work day is never too long in a growing company. There’s a lot of work and some jobs may get sidelined or be forgotten. Proper planning activities allows you to realize important tasks in a timely manner. That is why CRM allows you to create activities, thanks to which it’s visible what needs to be done today, what was lacking the day before, and what awaits implementation in the second part of the week. In Excel, this is only possible through a combination of functions and formulas.
CRM vendors constantly improve the functionality of their tools, and try to make it easier to conduct sales in them than from a competitive supplier. They also make sure that CRM integrates with the largest number of tools present in your company every day, such as Slack, Asana, and HelloSign. Thanks to that, for instance, information about the need to issue an invoice will reach the administration department automatically; similarly, information about acquiring a client will get to the interested employees. In addition, the Slack channel “Winning Sales Opportunities” very quickly becomes the happiest chat in the entire company.
A good CRM provider offers quick support, so you don’t have to spend time finding the right configuration. Quite often solving more complex problems is also dealt with by partner companies specializing in helping businesses that use their support.
It’s hard to find CRM in SaaS which will allow you to conveniently check, for instance, what was the conversion in March in Joanna’s demo in the case of startups from Sweden with no more than 10 employees. However, almost every single one is able to conveniently aggregate and export this data to Excel, which in such cases turns out to be very helpful – when you need to generate very precise sales data; although, then its role is to process data collected outside it. If you like your CRM, it means you haven’t got to know it well yet. Even good CRMs have their limits of usefulness, and then it’s worth supporting yourself with Excel.
The decision to conduct sales in Excel is basically deciding to:
A good CRM doesn’t force you to make such choices, it ensures a better information flow, and it allows you to invest this saved time into more effective work of all people involved in dealing with the client. Sellers’ time is expensive, and it’s not worth spending it on editing a spreadsheet in Excel.
If you already have a CRM, but it’s not as convenient as you would like it to be, write to firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll think about what can be done 🙂
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