CRM Excel Or CRM Software?
You are probably already aware of the innumerable benefits for your business of a strategy, and by extension, of a CRM system. Indeed, the figures speak for themselves: according to Salesforce, using a CRM would increase sales by 29%. But such data is the dream of any good entrepreneur. In that case, this performance can only result from using a practical solution adapted to your ambitions.
Several questions then arise, mainly if you already use Excel daily. Is a customer follow-up with Excel sufficient? And how to develop prospecting management using the famous spreadsheet? Or is CRM software more appropriate? If yes, which one to choose? By reading this article, make the right choice and boost your sales by finding the CRM tool you need.
What Is A CRM Tool?
CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is the technique dedicated to deploying a relationship strategy with its customers or potential customers. A CRM tool is subsequently characterized as the IT instrument allowing the implementation of this strategy by streamlining the processes.
To do this, the CRM system must be able, at a minimum, to record all data relating to prospecting and customer management and provide visibility on all interactions with customers and prospects. Thanks to this 360° view, better detect business opportunities. In particular, such a tool can be enjoyable by setting up an automation approach. Note, however, that there are two main types of CRM tools :
- the spreadsheet, mainly Excel,
- CRM software.
Which one to choose? Let’s look at how to use the first one to see more clearly.
How To Create A CRM In Excel?
Can you create your CRM? Excel, especially if you are starting your business, is an excellent ally for building your tool. Summary of its qualities:
- the software is known to all and present in the majority of structures,
- it is easy to use, and many tutorials exist if needed,
- it allows you to group and record information in a personalized and consistent way.
However, how do you go about transforming your spreadsheet into a CRM? If it is up to you to determine what information you want to include, we provide some ideas in the following paragraphs. Note that what we will describe is also valid using Google Sheets. Indeed, if the Google Suite tool is not as complete as Excel, it has the merit of being accessible and allowing simultaneous collaborative work.
Define Your Goals
There are as many forms of CRM as there are companies. This is why you must determine beforehand what the objectives of your CRM Excel are and what data you want to record there.
For example, if you want to carry out loyalty actions, entering your customers’ birth dates may help offer them a reduction on their birthdays. Note that you also have the option to download our free CRM Excel template. You must complete it with your information or take inspiration from it to build your table in Excel format.
Build Your Board
Build your table(s) based on the elements identified previously. The type of information to be logged determines the purpose of the columns in your main table: 1 column = 1 kind of information. Therefore, include columns relating to your contacts’ identity: title, contact details, etc.
In addition, remember all the data relating to the actions undertaken. This is why your table must mention your activities, your business opportunities, and the status of your prospects and customers: first contact, first reminder, second reminder, amount of purchases, abandonment, etc. Again, it all depends on your goals. In short, include all valuable information for customer relationship management. Example of a CRM Excel template :
Complete Your CRM
Once your fields are defined, and your table is built, it’s time to fill it. But with Excel, there are not many choices: you proceed “by hand”. This is also one of the main drawbacks of the spreadsheet, but we will come back to it in more detail. Filling in your table remains constant work: the effectiveness of your CRM Excel depends on regularly updating your data and adding columns as soon as you identify helpful information to exploit to trigger additional business opportunities.
Leverage Your Data
Finally, use your data wisely. Thanks, for example, to Excel’s sorting functionalities, distinguishing valuable information from your customer relations strategy at a glance. Age, location, gender, acquisition channel, and purchasing behavior… are all segmentation elements to consider to avoid diluting your commercial actions and reducing their impact.
The goal? Always assign the right message to the right target. By feeling put at the heart of your actions and experiencing your personalization efforts, the customer will be more receptive to your offers. Therein lies the whole point of a strategy and, therefore, of a CRM tool.
CRM And Prospecting Dashboard
Note that the procedure described above applies to customer management and the development of a prospect tracking table. Indeed, you can inform your contacts on an Excel prospecting file and then follow their evolution until the transformation into customers, thanks to your history.
That’s it; you have acquired the basics of CRM management using Excel. But if the use of the spreadsheet proves appropriate in the context of start-up activity, when the number of customers increases and the opportunities multiply, limits appear. Let’s see which ones.
The Limits Of CRM Excel
Lack Of Collaboration
One of the biggest obstacles to using Excel is that it does not allow you to work simultaneously on the same document. And even if you share your files with your collaborators, they must wait their turn to work on them or consider merging the data if they were completed separately. Note, however, that Google Sheets offers real-time collaboration possibilities. Unfortunately, its functionalities could be more developed than Excel.
As we have seen, using an Excel file to record your data means entering a large amount of information “by hand”. The tool lacks CRM process automation. On the other hand, the spreadsheet is frozen, and the updates do not run in real-time. In other words, as soon as information or the status of your customer changes, you must think about making a manipulation in your table. All these operational tasks require a lot of time, time that you could also devote to missions with higher added value.
Higher Risk Of Errors
Manual data entry, and lack of automation, also lead to a higher risk of errors. For example, many manipulations can lead to an unexpected change in the Excel formula.
Lack Of Features
Excel is less scalable than CRM software, and if your business grows, using spreadsheets can cause you to miss opportunities to increase your revenue. Additional features typically included in CRM software have:
- analytical reports and the commercial dashboard to measure your performance in real-time,
- the ability to associate attachments, such as invoices, with a customer account,
- Marketing automation features to send automatic emails to customers based on their profile, buying behavior, etc.
Last point: the backup of your Excel work is done locally. As a result, the risk of losing all your data increases in the event of a disaster or other incident. On the other hand, CRM software has more secure storage in the cloud or on dedicated servers. Therefore, we are entitled to wonder if there are better ways to secure our data than reliable management software.
Excel proves to be, in the early stages of your activity, a significant ally to begin to familiarize yourself with CRM logic. The spreadsheet is easily accessible, and there are, in addition, several online tutorials or training to help you tame it if you are a beginner. However, as soon as your business grows significantly, it makes sense to consider the CRM software option. And for many reasons.
Benefits Of CRM Software
Let us underline the advantages of CRM software:
- CRM software is collaborative. Your entire team can access the same client file simultaneously. In addition, available in SaaS mode, it offers the opportunity to work in a mobile situation.
- CRM software is scalable. It adapts and evolves according to the growth of your activity. VSEs, SMEs, and large accounts, there is a CRM solution for each type of business.
- CRM software saves time. Many tasks are automated so that you can focus on more critical activities.
- CRM software is generally straightforward, intuitive and ergonomic.
- The CRM software includes additional functionalities beneficial to the structuring of your activities and the exploitation of other business opportunities:
- opportunity management,
- Document Management,
- project management,
- Marketing automation, etc.
Example of what CRM software can allow you to do: However, to fully benefit from the advantages of a CRM solution, you need to choose the software adapted to your needs. And the offer on the market is plethoric! Don’t panic; the following selection should help you see things more clearly.
Selection Of CRM Software
There are many CRM software found on the market. Let us quote, for example, Zoho CRM, Sugar CRM or Microsoft Dynamics. We have selected eight solutions for you and share their advantages with you.
Inaba, simple contact management for SMEs
Inaba is the ideal tool to get rid of your Excel files quickly: you manage your contacts without leaving your Outlook mailbox. There is no complex CRM but a flexible platform coupled with an extension directly integrated into your messaging system, automatically capturing all contacts from your emails. You develop your business in an automated and collaborative way … and you save time! Here are the advantages of Canada in a nutshell:
- The solution is French and is aimed at all SMEs whose contacts are the key to their business, making them accessible to everyone in the company;
- The tool retrieves all the contacts from your emails: customers, prospects, suppliers, partners, etc., and updates them automatically to increase the size of your database and generate new opportunities ;
- The tool is intended to be light and flexible, presenting the essential functionalities for managing contacts and offering integrations with CRMs and marketing tools (such as Mailchimp or Sarbacane or Sendinblue);
- Its implementation is very fluid: free deployment, installation, and team training, in addition to excellent responsiveness from support by email or chat.
Price 1: €199.00 per month – unlimited users.
For whom: for SMEs, including architectural, communication, marketing, event, real estate development agencies, etc.
Axonaut: A Turnkey Solution For VSEs And SMEs
Axonaut is a French CRM appreciated by VSEs and SMEs to manage all of their activity with great fluidity, thanks to a pleasant interface. Axonaut in a nutshell:
- If with other CRMs it is necessary to pay to use several modules, with Axonaut, you have all the features directly available at an affordable price;
- Customer service is included, and the team is particularly invested in supporting its customers by chatbot or email;
- it offers all the valuable modules for managing prospects and the customer life cycle to develop sales (directory, synchronized calendar, automatic prospect follow-up, opportunity management, lead attribution, creation of quotes and invoices, etc.) ;
- While the features are powerful and complex, the user experience is simple and intuitive, whether on desktop or mobile.
Rate 1 : from €34.99/month + €10.05 per additional user (2-year commitment)
For whom: for VSEs and SMEs
Columbus: Simplicity In A Complete Tool
Columbus is a CRM that specifically addresses the needs of VSEs and the self-employed by offering a complete solution at an advantageous price. Columbus in a nutshell:
- It allows a smooth transition of your operation on Excel within a simple and intuitive interface ;
- It integrates sales and marketing tools, such as the management of a commercial pipeline, the management of emailing campaigns or the creation of web forms;
- It allows import and export on Excel, and it interconnects with other information systems to benefit from more advanced functionalities (connection to Google and Microsoft 365, the addition of contacts in real-time, sending of campaigns, etc.) ;
- It is deployed natively in French, hosted in France, and complies with all security standards.
Tariff 1: from €5.75 per user and per month.
For whom: TPE, freelancers, independent consultants.
Efficy CRM: CRM And Project Management
If Efficy CRM allows you to obtain a 360° vision of your customers and your business, it also has another advantage: project management. Efficy CRM in a nutshell:
- It manages a set of professions: sales, project management, support and marketing;
- It offers a high level of collaboration thanks to project management functionalities, document management and thanks to its shared agenda;
- It integrates with the Microsoft Office suite and the Open Office suite;
- It allows emailing and marketing automation, thereby generating additional sales.
Rate 1: from €20 per user and per month (from 2 users).
For whom: for all types of companies.
Eudonet CRM: 100% Customizable CRM
Eudonet CRM, scalable and 100% customizable, is aimed at all businesses. Eudonet in a nutshell:
- It adapts to all types of sectors due to its degree of customization: companies, real estate agencies, franchise networks, higher education, associations, public sector, etc. ;
- It connects to your other information systems, such as your business software or your ERP ( Enterprise Resource Planning );
- It comes with customer service working to build the solution that looks like your business and meets your needs;o
- It is very suitable for mobile situations thanks to the Eudotuch application, available for iOS and Android.
Price 1: €40 per user and month for the Enterprise Access version.
For whom: for all types of companies.
Sellsy CRM: CRM And Sales Pipeline
Complete, Sellsy CRM accompanies you in developing your turnover, thanks to its commercial orientation. Sellsy CRM in a nutshell:
- It offers visibility on your turnover and your business opportunities using a pipeline view ;
- It has several possible connectors: VoIP ( Voice over IP ) to manage prospecting calls, marketing automation solutions, support, etc. ;
- It provides tracking and scoring tools to analyze and note the behavior of potential buyers on your site;
- It offers activity reports to assess the performance of your teams and identify areas for improvement.
Rate 1: from €25 per user and per month (two users minimum).
For whom: for SMEs.
Vtiger CRM: The Open-Source CRM
Vtiger, complete CRM software, has the particularity of being available in open source. This means it offers access to its source code to exploit its content. Vtiger in a nutshell:
- It accompanies the sales, marketing and support functions;
- It is available both for free in open source (if you use it on your servers) and both under subscription to a monthly subscription (to benefit from hosting and data security, as well as maintenance) ;
- It regularly makes new functionalities available thanks to the global community revolving around the software;
- It is personalized and adapted according to business processes.
Rate 1: from $30 per user per month for the Standard version.
For Whom: For All Types Of Companies
Webmecanik Pipeline: the complete and free CRM Made in France Webmecanik Pipeline is a French and simple-to-use CRM software which supports companies in all sectors in managing their customers, prospects and sales.
Pipeline in a nutshell:
- It gives you a 360° vision of your commercial activity thanks to customizable dashboards updated in real-time, which relate to all your sales stages;
- It synchronizes very easily from Excel by importing a CSV file for perfect and centralized integration of all your customer and prospect data ;
- It connects to the Web Mechanic Automation marketing automation software to increase the power of your campaigns tenfold.
- It provides you with support in case of a question or problem.
Price 1: free
For whom: TPE, SME and ETI.
CRM Excel Or CRM Software: Support The Growth Of Your Business
CRM Excel or CRM software… In the end, it essentially depends on the degree of maturity of your company and your ambitions. But one fact remains certain: as soon as the clientele grows, you quickly feel cramped with Excel. As a result, more and more companies are integrating CRM solutions into their business processes.
Using such a tool can be frightening at first glance: too expensive, too complex, teams who are reluctant to change their habits, etc. However, all these reservations are quickly eliminated because CRM software exists for all budgets, projects and types of companies or sectors of activity.
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