Excel versus CRM: an unequal battle

At first, Excel seems capable of managing your customer relationships. But as your company grows, you will soon start needing more scalable tools.

You might know the expression 'what got you here, won't get you there'. At first, Excel seemed to get the job done. It may even help you save some money...

Money that you lose just as quickly through inefficiency and wasted time. Although an Excel spreadsheet may come in handy, it is used far too often for applications such as customer management, invoicing and creating article lists. But the world's best known spreadsheet simply falls short in those areas. And as soon as your company starts to grow, so will the need for more scalable tools.

Well Played also waved goodbye to their countless Excel sheets. Click here to read their story.

Disadvantages of Excel

From time to time, Excel is scornfully referred to as the world's worst CRM tool, simply because that’s not what it was designed for. You can easily enter customer or contact data in Excel, but that's about as far as it goes. Who are your customers? What do you know about their profile? How big of an asset are they to your company? This information would allow you to better respond to the needs of your customers and achieve better sales results.

Agreed, Excel offers a number of advantages as well:

  • It's easy to use
  • Most people are familiar with it.
  • All data is located in one single spreadsheet.

It's not a coincidence that Excel is the evergreen of MS Office. But it doesn't take long before you run into its limitations.

Manual data entry

Excel can be used for a wide range of applications, but you have to do things manually: all data you want to store in a spreadsheet, has to be entered by you or one of your co-workers. Just entering and updating customer data becomes incredibly time-consuming. And you're opening the door to human errors.

Loss of time

Managing your contacts in Excel is not the only thing that costs time. If you want to visualize your sales results in useful statistics, you’d better get to work: select the right data, create rows and columns, draw up a graph and select a format - prefer a bar graph or a pretty pie chart? If you create invoices in Excel, you already know you’ll have to do so manually - without any way to automate the process. And remember: what isn’t done automatically, is sometimes done incorrectly or simply forgotten.

No real-time collaboration

The ability to collaborate in Excel is also pretty limited. Of course, you can share Excel files, but real-time collaboration? Impossible: the standalone version of Excel doesn't allow multiple users to work in the same spreadsheet at the same time, Microsoft Excel Online is clunky at best, and Google Sheets has its limitations too (fewer features, loads slower, formatting and printing are harder). In other words, if you urgently need to access a file that one of your co-workers is working on, you'll have to sit on your hands and wait for your turn. Or create yet another copy, but then you can't forget to merge them afterwards. It works, but fast and practical are not exactly words that spring to mind.

Lack of scalability

According to Forrester Research, the Age of the Customer started in 2010, which means that all business strategies and operations should be carefully aligned to contribute to customer satisfaction.

As your company grows and customer relationships evolve, an Excel sheet soon becomes insufficient. For example, Excel won't tell you anything about the upsell opportunities for a certain customer, or when you should give him a follow-up call. In the age of customer relationships, this means you're missing out on tremendous opportunities.

Excel vs. CRM

Here’s a list of potential downsides of Excel and how a CRM tool helps eliminate them.



Time loss by having to look for the right file with the right data.

The right data is at your disposal at any moment, any place.

Impossible to save attachments (invoices, emails, letters, quotations...) with contacts.

Documents are automatically linked to the right contact.

Data or files could go lost if you save them locally.

Both are stored in the Cloud: faster and safer than a local save.

Multiple users can't access one Excel sheet at the same time unless you upload it to e.g. Google Drive.

All departments within your company can closely work together and track what someone is doing.

Impossible to manage or examine how data relate to each other.

Data is linked automatically.

No clear workflow.

Transparent state of affairs for each deal and every project.

Crunching numbers and creating formulae is both time-consuming and complicated.

A simple overview of your business operations through automatic statistics.

Risk of you or your co-worker changing a formula.

Automatic statistics with fixed fields minimize the risk of errors.

Additional advantages of CRM

Personal communication

A CRM tool serves as a central customer database and is the ideal source for various communication and marketing-related purposes. Moreover, a CRM allows you to keep track of all interactions between your company and its customers in one single database. As an organization, you can collect data for each customer and better respond to their individual needs. In turn, you can then create a more personal approach based on the wishes of that particular customer.

Real-time data access

CRM allows you to manage your leads more efficiently and track sales swiftly, simply and cost-effectively. At any given time, at any given place, you have the right data at your disposal to make well-considered strategic decisions. And yes, your Excel files can easily be imported.

Why would you choose CRM software?

Do you really want to keep doing something because that's what you've always done in the past? Change is never easy, but remains the key to growth, success and progress. Choosing a CRM tool can be a huge leap forward in that growth process.

With CRM software, you gain valuable insights into the wishes and preferences of your customers, as customer data and any form of communication with your customers are all stored in one single database. This allows you to focus on customer satisfaction and collaborate more efficiently, track frequently recurring problems and carry out global analyses. As a CRM tool automates your administrative tasks, your team will save precious time which can then be used for more important and more profitable tasks.

  • 22/01/2023
  • Last modified on 12/04/2024

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