7 things you can’t do with a CRM spreadsheet

A CRM spreadsheet can be a powerful tool for small businesses to get organized with their contacts and stay on top of their pipeline.

And if you’ve seen SalesTable, our free CRM spreadsheet template for Google Sheets (or our free Excel CRM template), then you know just how useful it can be.

This is a great way for new or small companies to start keeping track of their customers and their leads, instead of just piling up business cards and sticky notes.

That said, CRM spreadsheets are not the end-all of customer relationship management. In fact, they have some very serious drawbacks, especially for larger teams or companies looking to scale effectively.

As you continue to grow, the number of leads and customers you need to keep track of increases. If you’re still using a CRM spreadsheet while trying to scale your business, its lack of functionality can actually hold you back from reaching your full potential.

So, what are some things that your CRM spreadsheet is lacking? And what’s a viable solution as you continue to grow?

Here are 7 ways your CRM spreadsheet is holding you back

1. Managers can’t maintain control

In our CRM spreadsheet, there’s a column for the assignee, the person on your sales team who is taking care of the lead or customer.


But beyond that, managers have very little control over what’s happening in their pipeline or with their team.

With a CRM spreadsheet, you’re lacking vital information such as:

  • Recent communication between your sales team and prospects
  • Meetings or demos that have been scheduled
  • Tasks that need to be completed

2. CRM spreadsheets lack a timeline of interactions with your prospects

When was the last time your sales reps sent an email to this prospect? Has anyone followed up with that lead that went cold? Did someone answer this customer’s question about their payment method?


With a CRM spreadsheet, you have no clear view of the interactions your team has had with individual prospects and customers. That means sales reps might be stepping on each other’s toes, asking the same questions to prospects over and over again, or sending them the same contracts, proposals, etc.

This can lead to a bad experience for leads and customers. And since 96% of customers say that the quality of a brand’s customer service is an important factor in winning their loyalty, this is obviously a big deal.

More than that, with a CRM spreadsheet, you’re lacking data that can help you improve your sales process in the future. For example, how often should your team follow up with a certain type of lead? Is there a specific time of day or day of the week that works better?

I guess we’ll never know.

3. You’re missing an overview of your team’s performance

When your sales team consists of one person or a couple of people who do sales as a part-time activity, it’s easier to see when they make changes in the CRM spreadsheet. To find out what’s going on or who’s contacting who, you can follow up personally to see what your team is doing.

However, once your team grows, using a CRM spreadsheet to track sales rep activity is literally impossible.

That means you have no clue about the activity your sales reps are performing each day to get sales, such as:

  • Phone calls being made
  • Emails sent
  • Proposals created
  • Follow-ups done
  • Contracts signed

That also means you can’t see what kind of activities create the smoothest path to sales for your prospects. This, in turn, means you can’t coach your team on the best way to sell to your audience. Everyone’s basically winging it, which is not a good way to grow consistently.

4. A CRM spreadsheet doesn’t give you the right data to set realistic goals

To be able to forecast correctly, set goals for your team, and present information to potential investors, you need accurate and up-to-date data about your sales pipeline.

With a CRM spreadsheet, there’s just no way to capture or control all of that data.


For example, how many deals were closed in the last quarter? How many in the last year? Is the number going up or down? What factors are affecting changes in these numbers? How will these factors change in the next quarter? What will that do to your pipeline?

While our CRM spreadsheet does give you a view of what’s currently in your pipeline, it can be difficult to isolate certain periods, and it’s impossible to compare year-over-year data without crunching the numbers manually. That’s not only a huge time-waster: it leaves a lot of room for human error.

5. There’s no smooth integration with other sales and marketing tools

Yes, you can integrate Google Sheets with other tools using Zapier. That allows you to auto-fill rows, and input information faster.

However, there is no way to smoothly integrate your CRM spreadsheet with other important tools that every salesperson needs, such as email, lead generation, or calling tools.

This is bad for a number of reasons: first of all, it means that nearly all the information in your CRM spreadsheet must be typed in manually. #TimeWasteAlert

Second, it means that your information pretty much can’t be kept in one place. Your sales reps will have information spread out between the CRM spreadsheet, long email threads, voicemails, documents in Dropbox, meeting notes, and whatever they can remember about that phone conversation they had last week.

This lack of data accessibility can make your sales cycle longer and is frustrating for both your sales reps and your prospects.

6. You can’t collaborate effectively

Because of the lack of access to important data that we just mentioned, your sales team will have a much harder time collaborating.

When another team member needs to be looped into a conversation, you’ll need to send them a copy of the whole email thread, or call them on the phone to explain the situation. Documents will need to be sent, resent, and triple sent to everyone who needs them.

The more your company expands, the more inefficient your sales process will become when using a CRM spreadsheet.

7. A CRM spreadsheet doesn’t allow you to set reminders and notifications

While this may seem somewhat obvious, it is a huge functionality gap. Since your CRM spreadsheet can’t act like a calendar or reminder system, there’s no way for you or your team to keep track of important meetings, calls, or tasks that need to get done.

Again, this may not be a huge deal for a small business. But if you continuously scale your sales and grow your company, you’ll (hopefully) end up with hundreds of leads and customers. Relying on memory to make your meetings and accomplish tasks to close these deals just isn’t an option.

So, your CRM spreadsheet has some big holes in its functionality. What can you do about it?

Thankfully, there are better options for teams who want to scale their sales activities, crush their goals, and continue to grow their business. The solution you need is a CRM software.

What can a CRM software do that a CRM spreadsheet can’t?

Give you a birds-eye view of your team and what they’re doing

Sales managers or business owners who use a CRM software can see exactly what’s going on with their team. From assigning leads and tasks to certain team members, to keeping up with the activity of each individual rep, managers are enabled to actually manage their team and help them reach their potential through accurate data.

In Close, for example, you can see all the activities your sales reps have completed during a certain period, as well as a handy leaderboard that ranks reps according to the activities that you deem most important for your team.

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Retrieve a full overview of your relationship with prospects over time

Want to see what’s been going on with a certain lead? Who was the last person to contact them? Have they signed their contract yet? When was that demo scheduled for?

In a CRM like Close, you can see a timeline view of all the interactions your team has had with a particular prospect:

sales-crm-with-lead-activity (1)

Better yet, this timeline view is available to the whole team, meaning everyone gets a transparent view of what’s happening with leads.

Show you all the data you need, analyzed the way you want

Remember the data we mentioned above that you didn’t have in your CRM spreadsheet? Well, in a CRM software, all that data is together in one place.

Better yet, you can generate custom reports and analyze the data the way you want.

For example, want to see an overview of the value in your pipeline? Get a quick report and customize it to your needs.


Or, if you need to do a time-based comparison of sales activities, it’s just a couple of clicks away.

activity-comparison (1)

All of these reporting and data analysis features are what make a CRM software vital for growing teams. In fact, research shows that data accessibility can shorten the sales cycle by up to 14%. That means the clearer your data is, the faster you’ll be able to close deals.

Integrate beautifully with all the marketing and sales tools you use daily

Not only does a CRM software integrate with hundreds of tools that salespeople use every day, it actually includes integrated sales and marketing tools that help your process go even smoother.

For example, Close’s features include:

Best of all, when you interact with prospects through your CRM, all of those activities are logged automatically. No more manual data entry!

Provide options for collaboration

Need a teammate’s help to answer a prospect’s question? Want someone to take a second look before you send over the proposal?

Since all of the activity is transparent for the whole team, there’s no need to sit and explain every detail to your teammates. This transparency makes collaboration a whole lot easier since everyone has the same access to all the necessary information.

Give an easy task view to all sales reps and timely reminders when you need them

When using a CRM spreadsheet, you have the data, but not the insights and direction to move forward.

In a CRM software, each sales team member is fully aware of, not only what’s currently in the pipeline, but what tasks are up next to close more deals.

For example, in Close, each team member has a clear Inbox with the tasks they’ve been assigned. For salespeople who want to buckle down and get things done, this is the perfect view to know exactly where to start.

CRM spreadsheet CRM software benefits 5

Even better, since you can sync your CRM to your calendar, you’ll also get timely reminders for important tasks and meetings. In fact, you can even start, run, and track your meetings all within Close using Meeting Sync.

Only you can decide whether a CRM spreadsheet or a CRM software is the best option for your team

While a CRM spreadsheet does have its disadvantages, it can also be a useful tool for those who are just starting out.

If you’re looking to upgrade from paper notes and your business is still small, a CRM spreadsheet might still be a better option for you. To get started, download SalesTable, our free CRM spreadsheet template.

However, if you’re on right on the edge of huge growth and are looking for a solution that will grow with you, it’s time to look into getting a CRM software.

This will help you maintain a clear view of your pipeline, your team’s activities, and the necessary data to set reasonable goals and accurate forecasts.

Want to see what a CRM can do for you? Try Close free for 14 days and test this powerhouse out. (no credit card required!)


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