How to …. move away from spreadsheets

Oct 11, 2023 | Data

Ditch the spreadsheet and post-its … the how and why

For many businesses starting out or starting to grow, data could be a simple excel spreadsheet with deals done in emails and tracked in our heads.
Terms like ‘sales pipeline’ and ‘hot leads’ are for bigger companies or those with in-house data experts, right? Wrong. And we can show you how to move away from spreadsheets to a system that allows you to accurately and easily keep a track of all your potential deals.

Data doesn’t have to be scary and at its simplest can be all of the information you hold on clients and prospective clients in a visual format that the whole team can use to their best advantage. This means everyone in the team is working on the same page and is able to accurately record where each customer is in their journey with you. Nothing gets lost, no lead gets left behind (as a wise man once said!)

A sales pipeline will show all the stages in your journey, where each buyer is at, every opportunity open to you and forecasted revenue. There are many tools that can be used to help you achieve this. Programmes that are already set up, tried and tested to work for you. Monday and Trello will all do the job and have tiered account levels from free to paid depending on what you need. Our go-to here at Make the Break is HubSpot. I personally love the user-friendly layout and the Knowledge Hub is fantastic when I need a bit of guidance. I’ve also found their live chat responsive and enormously helpful so if you need extra support they are worth looking at.

How do I start?

You probably already have some kind of spreadsheet plus a mix of handwritten post-its and notes on your phone. The first thing to do is bring it all together. Create a master spreadsheet with all the fields you need. Some will be obvious such as First Name, Last Name, Email, Company Name …. But there will also be some custom fields that are unique to your business. Decide what you want and need to capture then work through all your existing data and move into the one spreadsheet. Send round the team so everyone can have their input. Most importantly at this stage remove any dupes so your data is as clean as possible going into your chosen CRM.

Also look at your products, sales process and revenue targets to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Once you’ve chosen your CRM tool take a look at the different options that are available to you. Is this purely for sales? Will you want to add on a marketing tool for email sends etc? For most, the free package will likely be enough to get started and find your way around, you won’t have any problem upgrading to a paid plan at a later date!

Uploading your data

This will probably seem like the scariest step but remember you can’t break anything and can always go back to the start if needed – but you won’t need to as you’ve already built a great spreadsheet!

There will be a simple upload button, choose the excel file from your computer and within a few seconds all your clients and companies will appear in your CRM. You will need to whitelist any internal contacts / accountants etc so they are clearly outside the client scope. There will also be a box to check or explain what your legitimate interest for contacting these people will be.

Now you can easily navigate around your contacts by person or company and view by filters or search for specific names. Take a look around and get comfortable with how it all looks and feels.  

Define your deal stages

Now onto the meaty stuff – getting your sales pipeline in order. First step is to define how you will be monitoring customers as they transition through deal stages. This could look something like:

Opportunity opened (10%)
Information gathering (15%)
Proposal sent (50%)
Negotiations (75%)
Close won (100%)
Not for now (0%)

The percentages against each one indicate the probability of closure based on the stage in your sales process.   

In need of some help and advice?

Our health check will shine a torch around the inside of your sales and marketing set up.

We will identify frictions and highlight what support would help.

Using the pipeline

Now each member of your team can see exactly who is where in your deal stages. Each customer or potential customer should have a lead person assigned to them within your CRM. Sales people can see exactly who they need to be targeting and managers can use the data to see where efforts should be concentrated going forward.

Stu has also written a really informative blog to read alongside this one to help get your team into shape and using the pipeline in the most effective ways.

Most importantly you can assign tasks to each member of the team with dates. This is a fantastic way to ensure no stage gets overlooked and every customer / potential customer / potential up-sell is contacted at the right time by the right person. You can place any lost opportunities here for follow ups in 6 months or a year, no one should be slipping through the cracks and your pipeline should be constantly moving and staying healthy.

Regular team meetings so the team has clear instructions on how to use and maintain the database are essential. The sales process should be transparent from top down with each member giving updates on who they are targeting, how and why. But at any time, any team member can go into the CRM and see exactly what is happening.
A quick monthly or weekly round up of figures and meetings will keep everyone informed and involved.

We are here to help

If you are thinking of moving over to a CRM but feel that some additional support would make the transition easier then drop us a line to discuss how we can help get you up and running quickly and smoothly