In the article about what a CRM is, we’ve already made a brief comparison between how a CRM software outperforms an Excel database, but now we’re going to sink in a bit deeper into the problem and shed the light on why your company needs a CRM in order to grow.
Why choose a CRM over Excel?
Have you ever tried to put together basic things like holiday gift lists, gathering the information coming from 10 sales reps with several key accounts? Or maybe you’ve tried to have a realistic, complex sales forecast discussion. How well did that go using some Excel spreadsheets?... We thought so.
Some companies choose to let their sales and marketing teams deal with all the job’s hardships by using simple Excel spreadsheets. Fair enough, Excel is easy to use and well known by employees no matter what the field of business might be. However, in order to have a better management and increased profitability, proactive companies choose to integrate a relational-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management). A CRM consists of a database and a user-interface with which you can easily create, update, manage, process, share and report data.
The disadvantages of using Excel for the sales process
Excel's advantages are counteracted by its’ many disadvantages.
- Not appropriate for multiple users to access or easily make changes
- Cannot view, manage, and report relationships of spreadsheet data
- May take lots of time to review, comprehend, and use spreadsheet data
- Generally, not usable for purposes other than the original intended purpose
- Difficult to share data
- No audit trails for integrity of data with spreadsheet updates
- Data might get lost just by being handled
- Too easily transportable to places outside the business -- maybe even to competitors
While Excel spreadsheets are great calculators, they are not good databases or report and statistics generators. This problem occurs because partially, Excel has no relational tables and limited interface capabilities. Excel will become slow and inconvenient with a few hundred items and much more difficult to manage with thousands of items.
Another weak spot that Excel has is concerning the shareability of its’ files. Excel files tend to be built for specific purposes, such as a customer list for newsletter mails (we use them to import these lists to create targeted marketing campaigns) or a targeted prospecting list for a sales rep.
By contrast to Excel spreadsheets, a CRM software provides a complete and complex information bank, available across marketing, sales and customer service and support departments.
Signs that your business needs to let go of Excel
- you don’t have a single source of information that ties the client to your employees and activities
- you lack visibility into what your sales employees are doing and have an inability to keep them accountable, a CRM solution is the tool you need to get more insight into current opportunities and deals your reps may be working on
- creating reports and stats is too time consuming and maybe even irrelevant
- data gets lost
- automating activities is impossible, given that Excel is all about manual data entry
- you don’t specifically target your prospects and clients, while the right CRM system will help you identify patterns in the customers most valuable to your business, help you group them by industry and region, so that you can start refining your efforts
- you haven’t created a plan for scaling your processes alongside your business growth
- you can’t project the future, a strategy that can easily be done by analyzing the opportunities and market needs presented in the CRM’s comprehensive set of standardized data and reports
The many advantages of using a CRM software
Successful business is all about finding, catering to and keeping satisfied, loyal customers. These customer relationships and lead management strategies must be handled across the entire company among sales, marketing, and customer service. The only effective way to do this is by managing the process with a CRM system, with which you can:
- Develop strong, long-lasting relationships with customers by offering them a more personalized service.
- Improve profit by reducing costs through streamlined, more efficient operations.
- customize the fields of data about your prospects and clients
- import files from several sources
- Respond more quickly to prospect/customer requests and needs.
- Create and adjust targeted marketing campaigns.
- Know where and when to up-sell and cross-sell.
- Get the right information at the right place, and at the right time, for making informed business decisions. With this capability, customer data becomes a strategic asset by extracting more value from your customer and lead database, which has the potential of yielding increased revenue and profit.
- Assure that sales, marketing, and customer service all work together toward a common goal of being on the same page with the customer, raising company success to a new level.
- Generate detailed reports and statistics to help you get a better overview on how the company and its’ employees are evolving.
- Set reminders and automate for repetitive activities
- And, last but not least, your Excel data can easily be imported into CRM.
When a CRM is used correctly by the company employees, there is no place to “hide” for the sales reps and no room for excuses for service reps not keeping the account manager or CEO informed about how different situations are progressing in their departaments. Everyone gets and stays on the same page with how the company is managing relationships with current customers, sales influencers, prospects and leads and even different types of dealers and suppliers.
This approach of one data “storehouse” also changes the ownership of information. No longer is customer or prospect relationship information in the hands of a specific department or individual, the information is readily available, scalable and analyzable by several key members of the company.
Customer information represents the core asset of your business and it shouldn’t be left lying and dying in a rigid spreadsheet.
So, hopefully I’ve covered this topic broadly enough so that you can decide whether to continue using an old fashioned Excel spreadsheet in your company or to take the business development approach and choose a profitable and effective CRM software solution.