Why Excel Isn’t a Real CRM

By Lauren Keepers

What do all sales professionals–whether they’re millennials, gen Xers or baby boomers–have in common?

At one point in their career, they’ve experienced or at least witnessed the dreaded sticky note catastrophe (Unfamiliar? You can read all about it here.) 

You know, the one where a gust of wind blows through an open window or an oscillating fan directly hits the sticky notes that blanket your desk and computer screen. 

This all-too-well-known nightmare stems from a need to rely on sticky notes for virtually every sales activity under the sun—recording meeting times, tracking signed and unsigned deals, email reminders. The list goes on. 

Now, after this catastrophe happens, most salespeople will finally be inspired to move these rudimentary sales tracking operations into a safer, less windy place on their computer. The most likely candidate at this point is a spreadsheet application like Excel, which at this moment will seem at the time like a giant leap forward for your personal book of business.

But let me assure you, that’s like putting a bandaid on a deep cut that really requires medical-grade stitches. 

Sales organizations cannot meaningfully improve their operations one post-it-covered sales desk at a time; processes and performance metrics must be executed and measured uniformly across all contributors. Organizations that fall prey to making Excel a CRM habit are bound to suffer from operational damage, or worse, an irreparable revenue downturn.  

Here are the four reasons why Excel isn’t a real CRM:

Reason #1 | It’s the wrong kind of collaborative.

Ever heard of the phrase, “There are too many cooks in the kitchen”? That’s what happens when sales, marketing, service, product development, and operations teams are simultaneously attempting to access the same data at the same time. Sure, you can select who has access to files or submit messages within spreadsheets via comments, but you’re severely limited from administering different user access levels and setting restrictions on how data can be accessed and edited by certain groups of people.

Salesforce Pro Tip: Give the people what they want—relevant tools to leverage relevant data. The average sales team member doesn’t want to be responsible for mismanaging historic customer data. That’s not their job. Their responsibility is first and foremost to maintain and grow existing client relationships. Give them customizable outreach email templates, house those templates in Salesforce and automate sales activity tracking on each and every one of their account and opportunity records. Marketing can develop stronger customer profile segments by mapping product or industry interest fields into Salesforce and track email engagement based on those interests. Marketing can then provide that aggregated customer information to Sales, and reps can tweak their outreach templates accordingly in a way that resonates even more deeply with the customer.

Reason #2 | You’re bound to experience data overages.

And those aren’t fun. Sure, small and mid-size businesses might not cross paths with the “File not loaded completely” error message because, by default, Excel can support up to 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns of raw data, but do your issued computers have enough memory to support that type of processing? Spreadsheets get harder and harder to manipulate and download as they collect more and more data, which makes pulling reporting a headache for leadership.

Salesforce Pro Tip: To avoid hitting storage ceilings, check out Enterprise, Performance and Unlimited Editions—each user license under these editions are allocated 2GB of file storage, which supports the data requirements of some of the biggest name brands in the world, so it’s bound to support yours. 2GB is actually what an Excel spreadsheet can hold as well, but that’s in total, not per user like Salesforce


Ever wonder how to find the ideal Salesforce solution tech stack for your organization? Here are some easy tips.

Reason #3 | There’s more manual maintenance involved.

Even if your team has an Excel key keeper or internal process engineer who’s an Excel wiz on deck, that person will likely devote a certain number of hours per week just maintaining the spreadsheet data. This wasted time eats away at that person’s bandwidth to drive results for the company in more efficient ways. If they have the technical aptitude to understand and manage the complexities of the Excel world, consider pivoting their labor toward streamlining operational workflows and understanding how to translate those workflows into an actual CRM platform.

Salesforce Pro Tip: Even if you appoint a one-man, Salesforce admin show to scale your data management operations through Salesforce, they’re going to need a helping hand from a consulting partner that can design and implement their vision quickly, without hiccups and through a phased approach. They’ll also work with you on benchmarking your Salesforce implementation ROI.

Reason #4 | It doesn’t put the customer first.

Excel’s purpose is first and foremost to process data. Sure, those spreadsheets have privy customer data in them, but how is Excel going to successfully arm a sales, marketing or service team with the right resources to do right by the customer at every single touchpoint in the buyer journey? It can’t. A true CRM platform puts the customer at the helm of the ship through its ability to house and automate sales processes and other customer-facing marketing operations. Excel can’t send notifications to Sales that signal when it’s time to follow up with a customer. No way. No how.

Salesforce ProTip: Use High Velocity Sales to add sales outreach cadences and projected lead scoring capabilities. This tool is built on the Lightning Sales Console so that you can quickly add a lead into a given sales outreach cadence and strike efficiency gain gold while doing so. This allows sales and marketing to send the right messages at the right time in order to maximize lead conversion and elevate the buyer experience. 

Staging sales reminders in through High Velocity Sales can look a little something like this:

Image courtesy of Salesforce

For more of a 10,000 foot view of how to use Salesforce to create more meaningful relationships with your customers, download this.



Lauren brings over three years of B2B communications expertise to Canpango’s marketing team. As Content & Social Media Specialist, Lauren combines her knowledge of the digital ecosystem with her knack for collaboration to craft and curate content that satisfies the interests and challenges experienced by Salesforce customers and partners.

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