Can we talk about spreadsheets (again)?

Do you love spread sheets?

You should as they’re a great tool for businesses. You can use them to create budgets, to build lists and to generate reports. But ...

No matter how skilled or creative you are with spread sheets, they can only accomplish so much - running a business solely on spread sheets will penalise a business in terms of limited productivity and lost sales. Don't believe me?  Well, here are five compelling reasons for moving sales and marketing forecasts out of spread sheets and into CRM software:

1. You can improve the quality of sales forecasts

Sales forecasts based on information within a spread sheet don’t provide information like:

  • How many contact points (calls, quotes, or whatever) your business needs to generate a sale.
  • The number of leads or enquiries generated required to meet a target.
  • The effectiveness of particular sales and marketing campaigns and the response from different segments.
  • The number of customers who placed orders during the previous period or during the same period last year.

If you move key sales data into CRM, this type of information is easier to find out and report on.

2. You can make decisions based on more accurate sales information

If different business teams can only access data from their part of the business, or if they are using inaccurate or out-of-date information, the productivity and efficiency of your business is at risk. A spread sheet provides a snapshot of a moment in your business and, unless someone takes the time to manually input new data, it becomes outdated. For example, a sales forecast for the next quarter won’t update when you reschedule a potential sale that is set to close. This is compounded when sales and management teams use different versions of a particular spread sheet.

3. You can stay grounded in reality

Sales people are by nature optimistic but this optimism can creep into their interpretation of spread sheet-based sales reports. As a manager, you may have faith in the judgement of your sales team, but sometimes you need to find a way of interpreting the logic underpinning sales reports. If you move key data into CRM software, you can generate predefined reports and charts, sense-check business decisions and gain a clear picture of the way a customer 'moves through your processes' & where that deviates from the norm. 

4. You can plan ahead with confidence

A spread sheet won’t trigger a notification in your diary if you need to collate a report, send a client an email or arrange a face-to-face meeting. This makes finding out your next action for a customer or account more time consuming. Often, the only way to find out is through a flurry of emails, phone calls and meetings about meetings. Using CRM, you can review past meetings notes, address outstanding actions and plan your company’s marketing and sales initiatives based on current customer information.

5. You can protect your business

Spread sheets are personal, whereas CRM is collaborative. Often, only key people understand the quirks of complicated spread sheets and how the various formulae were derived or calculated. What happens if these sales managers or reps leave your company? Knowledge goes with them, and the spread sheets they leave behind become irrelevant or unusable. Keeping company, contact and opportunity data in a central database means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time a rep or manager leaves.

Your most important business tools

CRM software can help you improve interdepartmental communications, reduce duplication of work, make informed business decisions and develop a more customer focused business. Spread sheets always will be an important business tool, but CRM can enable you and your team to do much more with your most important customer data. 

A version of this post originally appeared on MyCustomer.com.

Anonymous