CRM vs. Spreadsheet: 11 Signs it's Time to Migrate from Spreadsheets to a CRM

It’s time for the showdown: CRM vs spreadsheet. Which one does your business need?

When you put these two in a ring and let them fight, there’s obviously a clear winner.

Spreadsheets are a huge step up from Post-it notes and email threads, and using a template like our SalesTable CRM spreadsheet template (for Google Sheets) (for Excel) can help a small business get started with lead tracking and organizing contacts.

That said, it doesn’t have the mobility and features that a true CRM software does.

So, how do you know when it’s time for your business to switch from spreadsheets to CRM software? And how can you do so without losing important data?

Interested in boosting your sales efficiency? Check out the detailed "11 CRM Benefits For Exceptional Sales Results."

CRM vs Spreadsheet: 11 Signs it’s Time to Make a Change

1. You’re Constantly Losing Important Customer Data in Your Spreadsheet

Spreadsheets are great when you have just a couple of people working on them and less than 50 leads or contacts to track.

After that, something ugly is just waiting to hit the fan.

When your business grows, keeping track of all that data in a spreadsheet is impossible. You’ll constantly forget important details about a lead or customer and could even lose sales.

Sound familiar?

2. You Have no Insight into What Turns Leads into Customers

What kind of action is having real results for your sales team? How are follow-ups received, and how often should they be done? How many people are converted after a product demo compared to a free trial sign-up? How many touches does it take on average to close a deal?

A spreadsheet isn’t capable of tracking and comparing data points. Without the data to back up their actions, each rep will sell in the way they think works best, which may or may not be best for your audience.

Your leads are unique to your business, and certain ways of selling may appeal to them more than others. However, without the right data, your reps will be flying by the seat of their pants without any clear direction.

3. Entering Data into Your CRM Spreadsheet is Taking up Way too Much of Your Reps’ Time

Have you ever tracked how long you or your reps spend on data entry? If you want to run a CRM vs spreadsheet comparison for your team, take a week and record all the time spent on manual data entry in your spreadsheet.

How many hours did each person on your team spend on the spreadsheet? Five? Ten? More? (Yikes.)

The time spent creating, maintaining, and updating a CRM spreadsheet is time taken away from actually selling. That’s not the way to close more deals.

4. You Have to Share Documents to Your Sales Team Manually

“You never sent me that.” “I didn’t receive that, could you send it to me again?”

If you hear this several times a week, it’s a definite sign that it’s time to move from your spreadsheet to a CRM.

5. There’s no Efficient Way to Assign Tasks

How often are you calling your reps on the phone or running to their offices to delegate tasks? Or, worse, how often do you do a task yourself because it would almost take more time to delegate it?

In SalesTable, our CRM spreadsheet template, you can assign a certain rep to a particular lead or customer:

CRM vs spreadsheet warning sign 5

However, since you can’t assign specific tasks in your spreadsheet, you’ll have to assign tasks verbally or in an email. Then, there’s a much greater chance of these tasks getting forgotten, and that’s how deals are lost.

6. You Don’t Have a Clear View of What Your Sales Reps are Accomplishing Individually

Wondering which of your reps is more effective at calling? Who’s in the lead when it comes to demos? Which reps are on the verge of landing some very big deals, and which ones are letting the sales cycle go too long? Who’s struggling, and who’s coming out on top?

You don’t have access to this kind of data in a spreadsheet. That means you can’t coach your sales team effectively.

7. Reps aren’t Able to Effectively Collaborate to Make a Sale

When sales reps work together with a lead and help them move forward, deals can go smoother. However, your spreadsheet doesn’t give them enough information to do this effectively.

Instead, reps will be stepping on each other’s toes, asking for the same information multiple times, sending the wrong documents, and annoying your leads. This makes your business seem disorganized and out of touch with its audience (not the brand image you want people to have).

8. Your Sales Cycle Seems to be Getting Longer and Longer

Instead of optimizing your sales activities to shorten the cycle, you and your team seem more lost than ever. As you add new leads and customers, you may feel like you’re drowning in a sea of information and tasks, and your memory is failing you when remembering important information, tasks, calls, etc.

9. You Want to Compare Year-Over-Year Data and KPIs but Can’t

It can be very hard to do with a spreadsheet if you want to compare year-over-year data (or even compare quarters of the same year). While you have a nice overview of the totals on the Sales Dashboard in our CRM spreadsheet template, there’s no way to compare the data from different date ranges.

CRM vs spreadsheet warning sign 9 (1)

10. At Least Once, You’ve Lost an Important Document Before a Meeting

And I don’t need to tell you, that’s the worst feeling in the world. Either you had to redo the document from scratch in a rush or go to the meeting without that document. Whether it’s a presentation, a contract, or any other important document, it can’t be stored in your spreadsheet with the contact’s details.

With a CRM, though, you can store your documents right with your contact’s details, which means you’ll never have to scramble to recreate a document at the last minute again. In fact, with the Meeting Sync feature in Close, you can get timely alerts when meetings are about to start and have all the information for that contact at hand before you begin.

‎11. Your Spreadsheet isn’t Secure and Could Easily Be Copied and Shared

While there are some security settings in Google Sheets, others can easily send and access anything that’s stored in the cloud. And even if you’re not saving your spreadsheet to the cloud, it’s still easy to copy and share it. Worse yet, if your spreadsheet is saved offline on one computer, it can easily get lost if that computer crashes.

If security worries you, it is probably time to switch to a CRM.

How Did You Score on This CRM vs. Spreadsheet Quiz?

Out of these 11 warning signs, how many did you identify with? Are you a "team spreadsheet" or "team CRM"?

Let’s face it: a growing business needs more than a spreadsheet to keep its leads straight and close deals faster.

With a CRM, you’ll be able to keep track of the data you need to grow your sales skills and that of your team. With these kinds of insights, you’ll shorten your sales cycle, close more deals, and start to crush it truly.

You’re probably on board with switching from spreadsheets to CRM software by now. But maybe what’s holding you back is the actual work.

Don’t worry: there’s an easy way to migrate your lead data from a spreadsheet to your CRM (and it doesn’t involve manual data entry).

How to Move Your Data from a Spreadsheet to Your CRM in 3 Easy Steps:

1. Clean up the Data in Your Spreadsheet

There’s no reason to spend time migrating old data into your brand-new CRM. If you feel your spreadsheet has become disorganized, don’t transfer that mess into the CRM. Before you start the migration, it’s time to clean up that data.

Start by removing old or duplicate leads. Remember that lead from two years ago who said he wasn’t interested? Yeah, it’s time to get rid of him.

To do this quickly, sort your contacts in the spreadsheet by Opportunity Last Modified field and remove old leads that went cold long ago.

CRM vs spreadsheet migrate step 1-1

Next, clean up the format of your data. For example, make sure all the phone numbers are in a standardized format (+1 000 111 2222) and use abbreviations the same way.

2. Export Your Spreadsheet Data into a CSV

If you’re using Google Sheets, click on the File tab. Then scroll down to Download, and from that menu, select Comma-separated values (CSV).

CRM vs spreadsheet migrate step 2

This will download the data into a CSV file.

3. Import Your Data to a CRM

Once your CSV file is ready, most CRMs will allow you to import that data directly. That means almost no manual data entry is necessary!

With Close, you can use the Lead Importer to import your CSV data into the CRM directly.

Just click Upload a CSV file and drop your CSV in.

CRM vs spreadsheet migrate step 3

After that, you’ll be prompted to assign fields to all the columns from your spreadsheet.

CRM vs spreadsheet migrate step 4

You'll be ready to go once you’ve assigned these columns to specific fields!

Yes, it’s that easy.

CRM vs. Spreadsheet: Which Team are You on?

It’s no secret that CRM software has plenty of functions and advantages that a spreadsheet doesn’t. Frankly, spreadsheets pale in comparison to a real CRM.

But everything depends on your circumstances. If you’re a new or small business with a limited budget for tools, a spreadsheet is a great (free) way to get started in contact management. If you didn’t identify with the 11 warning signs we discussed above, a CRM spreadsheet template like SalesTable might be the best place to start.

However, it's time to upgrade if you see clear similarities between these warning signs and your current sales situation.

Try out Close for free and run your own CRM vs spreadsheet test.

I’m pretty sure you’ll also end up on team CRM.

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