The Disadvantages of Spreadsheets vs a CRM

Many people are familiar with spreadsheets–all those rows and columns. You can perform a wide variety of calculations with spreadsheets, and, organize records as well. With complicated formulas, you can calculate almost anything you want. There are filters, and you can even scale your spreadsheet to fit one page. In fact, some companies still use spreadsheets to manage their customers.

But, why? In today’s data-driven, and digital world, companies can no longer afford to rely on spreadsheets for insightful pieces of data, reporting, a reduction in user error, or security. A spreadsheet is always, and we mean always, at risk of getting shared with the wrong recipients.

You may think you have securely stored all your company’s customer contacts on your sheet, then transferred to a USB drive–but that USB drive is quite easy to pick up. What would happen if you lost all your customer data? If you have 25 or more prospects, in addition to current customers, you’re going to need more than a spreadsheet to manage that information efficiently.

Think of sharing your spreadsheet with 10 different people and hoping everyone receives the updated version each, and every time. Consider the task of having to scroll through your spreadsheet just to locate customer data, while currently on a call. The inefficiencies are endless, and in the end, quite costly for a business trying to grow.

CRM vs. spreadsheets on collaboration

There isn’t anything that can better foster an organization’s growth than collaboration between employees and managers. When it comes to hitting revenue targets and sales quotas, everyone needs to be on the same page–at all times. This is one of the biggest advantages CRM has over spreadsheets. Sales managers can quickly assign leads to sales reps through a CRM system.

There is also the feature of marketing automation to help perform repetitive tasks such as email marketing and more. At its core, CRM was primarily used to manage business/customer relationships. Instead of searching through a row and column, you have a visual display of customer profiles, lead progression, call history, purchase history, advanced reporting, meeting history, and more. As we’ve seen, CRM has turned into something much more; the central platform for your entire organization.

You don’t have to scroll down to row 85 to find specific information on a prospect–that may or may not be updated. When you want to quickly identify the stage a deal is in the sales funnel, you need a CRM system. When you’ve got more business relationships than a spreadsheet can handle, it’s time for a CRM system. With a CRM system, all stakeholders can work in real time with consistently updated and in-depth data at their fingertips.

CRM vs. spreadsheets in marketing automation

Marketing automation enables companies to nurture prospects in a manner that is highly relevant while increasing conversion rates. It is the automation of marketing actions such as social media, emails, and more. Let’s face it, a spreadsheet does not offer any marketing automation features.

You have to pore through spreadsheets to find email addresses so that you can send your marketing messages–and, you have to mail them one at a time. On the other hand, your CRM system can help to segment your customers and prospects into specific categories.

You can then create a relevant message and use marketing automation to send out a specific email message to a targeted group of recipients. Marketing automation helps to scale your efforts at marketing and lead generation. With behavioral data, you can paint a full picture of your target audience. Then, you can nurture these leads based on their pain points and interests. Marketing automation can get those messages sent for you—a spreadsheet is a non-factor in this category.

CRM vs. spreadsheets as a single repository

A high functioning CRM system offers a single, and central, repository where you have can store update information that is easily accessible. With a spreadsheet, you can highlight the most recent interaction you have had with a customer or prospect in the past, but that’s about it.

And, when it comes to sharing your spreadsheet, there is no telling who entered the most recent piece of information and where. In contrast, a CRM offers a chronological timeline of every single interaction including emails, calls, meetings, purchases, tasks, responses to marketing messages, lead progression, and more.

Additionally, you can access your CRM data from any device with an Internet connection. If you’re out meeting with clients, it would be difficult to search through a spreadsheet on your mobile device.

Plus, pulling up your laptop and showing your clients you still use spreadsheets might cause more than a few furrowed eyebrows. Customers will wonder whether you can easily access their information in a timely basis and whether their data is truly secure.

CRM vs. spreadsheets in tracking events

When sending out marketing emails for campaigns and other marketing activities, you want to know how your messages performed. Certainly, you can’t send emails from a spreadsheet, this would have to be a time-consuming and manual process. You can use marketing automation to send out multiple emails at once, with your CRM system.

And, when it comes to tracking, a spreadsheet will not track anything for you that you don’t enter and calculate manually. Yet, a CRM system can track link clicks, lead activity on your website, and email opens. This real-time information can give you the precise data you need to plan your next step in the customer’s buying journey.

With a spreadsheet, your guess is as good as anyone else’s regarding the next step towards guiding the customer into making a purchase. Did a lead download a case study? Perhaps they are exploring their options.

Did they attend one of your events? Maybe they are interested in purchasing your products and services. The best part is you get a chronological timeline of event tracking too–something spreadsheets just can’t offer.

In conclusion

As you can see, only a CRM can address your customer relationship management needs on a scalable, secure, central, and trackable basis. Sure, spreadsheets can be a high-quality tool, but not for managing 20 or more prospects and clients.