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Sales Prospecting: When Excel Reaches its Limit

Most people start organizing their sales with Excel. But the tool has limitations, at which point a change is needed. Is CRM software a good alternative?

Last update on January 25

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All companies face the issue of trying to find the best way to organize their sales prospecting at one stage or another. What started with jotting down leads with pen and paper soon gave way to using Excel spreadsheets. Using Excel is often an efficient tool for managing sales in the early stages of a company’s conception. And, if we're honest, Excel has lasted so long as a sales support because it offers several advantages:

  • Ease of use: everybody knows how to use Excel
  • Simple to edit and to set up
  • Concise: All information is displayed on a single page

Although there are many advantages to using prospect tracking spreadsheets, it doesn’t take long to reach its limits. Excel has a static format; it can’t be connected to other tools salespeople use and, most importantly, it’s only a spreadsheet!

Excel's Limitations as a Sales Support Tool:

Everyone might know how to use Excel, but it is a one-size-fits-all solution.

  • Excel makes it harder to follow up on leads, as you are pretty much limited to leaving comments in the columns.
  • Comments don’t feature important information like automatic date entry.
  • Only one column is used for the “last action date”, which doesn’t provide complete access to your history of exchanges.
  • It’s impossible to attach documents such as quotes and invoices. +Creating or trying to synchronize reminders with your calendar isn't an option. + There is only one view for information, and it provides no statistics at all.
  • There is no Pipeline It looks like we've hit that limit in Excel sheets even quicker than we thought!

Excel is Too Simple; CRM Software is Too Complicated

Read out CRM small business article

If the prospect tracking spreadsheet remains indispensable for many companies; it’s mainly because most of the solutions available in the market are too complex and poorly conceived for classic sales activities. The next step after Excel is to set up a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Companies, and in particular small businesses, rarely need a tool to manage their customers, however. They need a tool to turn their prospects into customers.

CRM is Not the Answer to Excel

CRM software is complex to set up and requires the user to fill in a ridiculous amount of fields before they can even start working on a prospect: You need to create the company info, main contact, the opportunity and which action needs to be taken.

These elements make the adoption of a CRM a complete nightmare for salespeople. They then miss the simplicity of an Excel spreadsheet, and the CRM becomes a reporting tool that is updated just before a sales meeting. CRM tools don’t help salespeople. They are a constraint imposed on them by management teams looking for jazzy reports based on data—which is often inaccurate.

A Happy Medium Between Prospect Tracking Spreadsheets and a CRM

To fill the gap between the simplicity of the Excel spreadsheet and the complexity of a CRM, new lead management software options have started to appear on the market. SaaS software is specifically designed for the needs of salespeople and sales managers including features such as:

  • User-friendly
  • Creation of business opportunities in seconds
  • Integrated prospect tracking spreadsheet
  • Complete interaction history for each lead
  • All upcoming actions displayed in a single page
  • Reminders and calendar sync
  • Ability to of attach documents to each action
  • In-depth statistics on pipeline, employee and team performance is a lead management software designed for salespeople.

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