Widespread familiarity with traditional business tools like spreadsheets causes sales teams to use them for big jobs—jobs they’re not meant for.
Managing sales activities from shared spreadsheets creates frustration and places serious limitations on what your team can accomplish. While spreadsheets are legitimately useful for data sorting, and offer a (very limited) way of organizing your contacts, they don't actually help you make sales like a CRM does.
Why do sales teams use spreadsheets?
Change is scary. Often, people prefer to cobble together a solution that they’re comfortable with because it’s less daunting than thinking about learning a new program. Plus, most people have access to a free online spreadsheet program or existing spreadsheet software on their computers.
Still, those familiar rows and columns simply aren’t built for managing prospects and collaborating with other members of a sales team. Here are five things you can’t do with a spreadsheet.
1. View a chronological record of every interaction.
A spreadsheet can tell you when you first contacted or most recently contacted a prospect, and not much else. Being able to see a chronological timeline of every interaction with a prospect eliminates the need to search your notes before every sales call, and allows you to hand off a prospect to a teammate without having to explain everything that was discussed so far.
2. Create a standardized sales process.
Building a standardized sales process starts with identifying the sales activities that produce the best results for your team, and turning those proven sales methods into a formalized template that every one of your sales reps can follow.
A sales process provides an easy way to train new salespeople, set expectations, streamline your sales efforts, and build a foundation of consistency that makes your team more confident and efficient. Building a sales process is one of the most important things you can do for your sales team, and there’s absolutely nothing in a spreadsheet that can replicate it.
3. See the status of your sales pipeline.
There are few things more challenging than looking at layers of spreadsheet data and trying to come up with a coherent sales forecast or an analysis of deals in progress. It’s critical to understand your sales pipeline and know how your sales are tracking against your quota. Only a CRM can give you an easily digestible view of this crucial information.
4. Communicate and collaborate.
Sure, spreadsheets are shareable, but that doesn’t mean they are a great tool for collaboration. The process of editing or even reviewing a spreadsheet together is inefficient at best and totally disorganized at worst. Spreadsheet comment fields are meant for brief notations, not back-and-forth communication. CRMs let sales reps trade notes, receive mobile notifications when deals need their attention, and collaborate to move prospects through their sales pipeline.
5. Integrate with other business tools.
Isn’t it wonderful when your tools work together? The best a spreadsheet can do is export data in comma separated values, but that’s pretty much useless if you want to integrate with email platforms or customer support software. The best CRMs are compatible with all your business tools, allowing your staff to work within a single platform, instead of having to switch back and forth between multiple tools.
I live in our CRM. There’s no way I could manage so many accounts if I had to use a spreadsheet. That would be a nightmare.
Emily Niemiec, Business Process Specialist, LongerDays.com
CRM vs. spreadsheets: What advantages does a CRM have over spreadsheets?
CRMs steer clear of the common spreadsheet pitfalls and make it easier for your team to build relationships with potential clients. With a CRM, your sales team gains control over your data, time-saving sales automation abilities, the ability to fine-tune sales and marketing communications with clients, faster customer response times, and easily digestible sales performance analytics.
They’re more secure than spreadsheets, link to other programs to save you time and money, and are easily shared between employees. As a result, your team will no longer endure the lost productivity and frustration of searching or sorting a bulky spreadsheet. Most importantly: no more missed opportunities!
A CRM should solve your customer relationship management woes by addressing your biggest needs, but also by being practical and easy to use even for the complex job of B2B sales. Not every CRM is right for every company, but finding the right one alleviates a lot of headaches and boosts business in so many important ways—and nobody has ever said that about a spreadsheet.
Take a tour of Nutshell to see how our award-winning CRM’s contact management features, sales process tools, and powerful reporting and performance tracking help sales reps win more deals. We'll make the switch easy by delivering the tools, tips, and free support you need to get started and stay on top of your game.