Many small and even medium sized businesses look no further than standard Office applications like Excel and Outlook or the equivalent for customer relationship management. While it may seem like a simple, easy to manage system, a spreadsheet with a list of phone numbers and email addresses can actually hinder productivity when compared to implementing a true CRM application.
Integrated CRM offerings aren’t just contact lists. They add sales process workflows, marketing automation, full sharing capability across departments, and more. Cloud CRM applications enhance usability further by freeing users to access the application from anywhere. So is it worth dropping the spreadsheet and making the switch? This customer relationship management article from Soffront offers a CRM comparison between spreadsheets and integrated CRM software systems.
One of the fundamental problems with individual contact lists is how many to have. One for each department? One for each salesperson? An integrated CRM application means one system for many users who all have access to the appropriate information at any given time. There’s no need to email documents back and forth when everything is centrally located and accessible across departments.
Your Application, Your Sales Process
You may be comfortable with your Excel spreadsheet or Outlook contact list. You know how to look up customers and add new customers. You can send everyone an e-mail or use print labels for mailing. It’s comfortable, it’s easy, and it’s cheap. But does it know your sales process? Does it mimic your business workflow? Can you plan, execute, and measure your marketing campaigns? Instead of limiting CRM to barely basic functionality or struggling with trying to program your system by hand, choose a CRM solution that is not only customizable, but that doesn’t require a computer engineering degree to customize.
Does your spreadsheet let you access purchase history or pending issues like the status of back orders from your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or even a public computer? When you utilize a CRM application in the cloud, you store your database along with all of your integrated sales, marketing, and customer service data on a provider’s server and access it online. The software for managing the database is also on the provider’s server, so there is no hardware to buy, no software to maintain or worry about, and you can scale the service to meet your needs.
Making the Switch
The most common concerns businesses face when considering dropping Excel or a similar program in favor of an integrated CRM are the cost, the ease of use, and simply a fear of the unknown, but the right software solution will address each of these. Cloud CRM applications require subscription fees, but the boost in sales and productivity will more than make up the cost. Instead of worrying about the vendor cost, businesses should worry about how their current system is draining efficiency and potential profits. Because new software is involved, managers often express fear over implementing different programs, but a user friendly CRM system is more intuitive and easier to learn than an all-purpose database could ever be. In addition, hands-on CRM providers like Soffront include training so that all team members get up to speed quickly.
The biggest fear is often the fear of the unknown and leaving the comfort zone of a familiar system. But by examining what an organization stands to gain, the fears of CRM can be easily alleviated. spreadsheet simply cannot compete with the ease of access, customizable workflow, and cloud computing freedom provided by a web based CRM system.