Posted: Fri 11th Mar 2022
You’ve scheduled a day of calls with clients, and now it’s time to input notes in your spreadsheet of customer relationships. You dread opening the file, sorting through the cells and cells of data, just to add a few new notes to reference later.
But what if you could instantly add notes, organise client data, and generate reports rather than scrolling through endless rows and columns or searching for each individual name?
With CRM tools, you can navigate customer data quickly and even integrate your website forms and email marketing software to deliver data to one central location. That means you can generate more leads, boost sales, and give customers a better experience that keeps them coming back.
How do you know when it’s time to switch from spreadsheets to CRM? Don’t wait for time to tell. Here are some of the signs that your business is ready for a more legitimate CRM system.
What is CRM?
CRM stands for customer relationship management, which usually involves recording and storing customer relationship and interaction data to help inform business goals and decisions.
While a spreadsheet can work for taking notes on customer interactions – say a positive email exchange with a new client – it’s not the most user-friendly option for CRM. Instead, CRM-specific tools and software are more intuitive and can adapt as the relationships with your clients grow and change over time.
Why businesses need CRM
Say you attend an industry conference and meet plenty of potential clients for your business, but you never exchange business cards or take note of the services they may need. How will you ever follow up and turn those connections into continuing sales?
CRM is crucial if you want to nurture leads, boost sales, and give your potential and returning clients a great experience.
With CRM, you can keep track of new leads, making notes of your interactions with the potential clients to help seal the deal later on. And once those leads convert to customers, you’ll want to stay on top of their needs with CRM in order to deliver the correct services and give them a top-notch experience with your business.
Why spreadsheets aren’t an effective CRM system
Many small business owners will intuitively start keeping track of their customer relationships in spreadsheets, but this is inefficient and will only become worse over time. There are several reasons why spreadsheets are best left for accounting rather than customer relationship management.
If you use Excel or other spreadsheet software that isn’t based in the cloud, it’s easy for team members to create, save and send various versions of the same spreadsheet. This can make it confusing to track down the most accurate and recent version of the data.
Data security is important for any business, and customers aren’t willing to give money to companies that don’t protect their information.
Unfortunately, spreadsheets aren’t as secure as CRM tools. The spreadsheet files can easily be saved and stored on various devices, so even if a company employee quits or is fired, they may still have that information saved on their laptop.
CRM tools are cloud-based, so the information can't be saved to one device, and you can control access for each user. If someone leaves the company, you can restrict their access or remove their account to better protect the data.
Lack of customisation
Then there’s customisation. Sure, you can colour-code your spreadsheets, but there’s little else you can do to make the sheets easier to view and more in tune with your business’s needs.
There are many CRM tools out there to choose from, and each one offers its own options for customisation. You can integrate website forms to send data to the CRM for leads, or incorporate a ticket dashboard to track all customer issues in one place for quicker responses.
With all the data your business manages, spreadsheets can quickly become hard to read. You can create new spreadsheet tabs or files, but the data will still be difficult to find and analyse.
CRM tools organise data and make the information easy to read, and many software programs will even generate reports and highlights of the CRM data for you.
When to switch to CRM
As a start-up or small business owner, you may be wondering when is the right time to make the leap from spreadsheets to a CRM system. While this can vary based on your customer base and company budget, a recent HubSpot analysis found that most start-ups move to an official CRM between three and six months after raising their initial capital.
Spreadsheets are easy for most people to use and understand – to a point. But as your business grows, you’ll need to store more information about the relationships you have with customers. When you start spending hours poring over spreadsheets and feel a sense of dread when it’s time to evaluate leads, your business is probably ready to switch to a CRM tool.
Improve leads, data security and customer relationships with CRM
There’s no shame in using spreadsheets for CRM as you start your business, but the sooner you switch to more intuitive, user-friendly software, the better off you’ll be.
When you turn to CRM, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get started sooner. CRM tools can help you generate strong leads, give customers a personalised experience, and grow your business with increased sales.
HubSpot for Startups
Enterprise Nation is a proud partner of the HubSpot for Startups programme. As a member of this programme, you’ll receive masterclasses, free resources, and discounts to buy software to help your business grow better.