5 Signs Your Business Has Outgrown Spreadsheets and Needs a CRM

Spreadsheets are great, aren’t they? Nowadays, executives and business founders can easily handle work that in decades past would have taken a whole team to manage. Thanks to spreadsheets, one individual with minimal training can condense entire file cabinets of contacts, stacks of accounting paperwork, and whole portfolios of project timelines…and store them on a hard drive. But at what point do spreadsheets become a burden? You don’t see many Fortune 500 companies having their sales teams track activity in a Word document, or their accounts payable team filing invoices via Excel.
So, when do you know it’s time to make the switch from spreadsheets to specialized tools?
Below, I walk you through 5 signs to look for…

1. You have to ask around to find the right data

If you are working on or managing a team, staying collaboratively on task can be hard. Even with a cloud-based spreadsheet like Google Sheets, every member of your team is likely keeping their own spreadsheets outside of any master sheet you may try to put forward. By using a centralized tool such as a CRM (Contact Relationship Management) for sales teams, or a tracker for product teams, you force your team to work in a central, easily accessible location. Unlike Google Sheets and Docs, CRM tools have activity tracking metrics that you can use to hold your team accountable. Even if you work on your own, you likely find yourself searching through countless folders. That’s when it’s time to say goodbye to spreadsheets.

2. Prospects are falling through the cracks

For sales teams, moving your work out of spreadsheets and into a CRM like Salesforce is imperative. The built-in task setting and auto-reminder features of Salesforce CRM ensure you never miss a meeting again, while other features allow you to know where every prospect is in your sales funnel at a glance. More importantly, you’ll be able to view the entire history of your relationship with each prospect. Thus, you’ll be able to better determine when it’s time to follow-up again. Managing your sales funnel activity via spreadsheets is a recipe for countless dropped balls and missed opportunities. This is why it’s time to move on.

3. You spend more time organizing your data than completing value-added tasks

Spreadsheets can get messy. As a sales rep, you may have a spreadsheet with your current list of prospects who you’re close to signing, another spreadsheet of prospects who you need to reach out to for the first time, still another for prospects who you’ve already closed…and countless other lists on spreadsheets. I’m feeling less productive just thinking about those lists. What’s more, moving prospects forward in your sales funnel can be an exercise in extreme patience as you copy and paste from sheet to sheet, which is often in different formats! Financial and operational teams can experience the same pain, as single spreadsheets can grow to tens if not hundreds of tabs. Why not use a CRM tool that organizes everything for you via pre-set fields and values?

4. Your pinwheel is getting a workout

Pinwheel of Death.jpgIs your pinwheel of death showing up all too often? Or if you’re on a PC, do you ever wish Microsoft would bring back the hourglass so you could at least stare at something while you wait for your spreadsheets to load? Let’s face it, as your business grows your spreadsheets get more and more unwieldy. That list of people you met at a convention to follow-up with has grown to ten tabs of prospects at varying sales stages, and maybe a few sheets with formulas to track billing if you’re an entrepreneur.

I’ve lost track of how many times my computer has crashed due to this.
Even if you have a better computer than me, you’re still wasting valuable time and losing focus every time you pause to let that massive spreadsheet load. By using a specialized CRM tool, you can seamlessly move from task to task.

5. You want to get more out of your day, and be more successful

Okay, this seems like a throwaway sign. But let’s be honest: there are some really useful tools out there that you can be leveraging to help you be more productive and successful. There are so many great, custom tools today that have been built by professionals specifically crafted to boost your productivity. Why not use a tool that leverages CRM best practices? If you’re a sales professional, you should realize that there’s a reason Salesforce CRM has become such a huge player in your world: they are great at what they do. Likewise, if you’re in operations, product, or engineering, there’s a reason JIRA is utilized by so many teams. An accounting or financial executive? Quickbooks accounts for 85-90% of your world. In all of these instances, millions of business professionals around the world have realized that using a specialized tool can boost productivity, margins, and overall success. Related: Top 3 Reasons to Leverage CRM for Small Business


It’s a clear win for your business to move away from spreadsheets to more specialized, cloud-based CRM tools. So, why do so many of us still use simple spreadsheets to organize our work? The roadblock for most people is the actual migration process, the porting of data from your personal spreadsheet system into the specialized tool you have chosen. This can be a time-consuming process to both plan and execute, and it often causes folks to throw in the towel because they view CRM implementation as too difficult. People wanting to make the switch should be prepared to make this commitment. A great way around this is to delegate as much of the work as possible. If you manage a team, delegating to your direct reports will give them a figurative “piece of the pie” and sense of ownership in the new tool, thus increasing the likelihood of adoption. If you’re an entrepreneur, a virtual executive assistant can offer tremendous support to your productivity and business growth by taking this annoying but necessary work off of your plate. When you hire a virtual assistant, you gain so much more than productivity and business growth, though. You gain another member of your team for a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house assistant. Additionally, you don’t have to train or manage them…if you hire a virtual assistant through a managed service provider like quickskill .
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