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Most small businesses that track customer information use outdated tools, like email and spreadsheets, to do so. If that sounds like you, don’t fret! First off, it’s better to be tracking customer data in some way than not at all. But there is a better way. It’s called customer relationship management (CRM).

As the saying goes, using the right tool for the job goes a long way. Entrepreneurs and small business leaders are often drawn to spreadsheets because they’re familiar and they’re free. Spinning up a spreadsheet to track customer information and basic sales is easy enough, as well. But what happens when your business grows?

Add a few people to your team or hit a customer growth spurt, and that homegrown spreadsheet can grow unwieldy in a hurry. When the pace picks up, manually entering every last bit of business data can become a time suck, and information gets siloed — and lost — in a hurry. All of the sudden those free spreadsheets wind up costing your business lots of time and money spent tracking down or recreating vital customer information.

What is CRM, and how can it help your business? Let’s look at five key ways CRM is better than spreadsheets:

1. A single source of truth for your business

When more than one person on your team uses spreadsheets to track business info, version control can quickly become a problem. Are you keeping close tabs on which version of the spreadsheet is being updated by who — and when — so that everyone is on the latest version? A cloud-based CRM built for running a business eliminates this problem by keeping all of your users synced to a single record of all important data.

2. Customer history records where you need them

Let’s face it: People can make spreadsheets do all sorts of things, but they weren’t actually built to capture sales notes and conversations over a customer’s lifetime. Consider that 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and suddenly it’s clear that you need easy and reliable access to all of your customer histories. Small business CRM solutions are purpose built to easily record, update, and save customer history records so you always have the correct context for a conversation.

worker using tablet

3. Automated activities to reduce manual task work

“I love entering data and creating reports manually,” said no one ever. ACRM provides automatic reporting, automatic data entry via email, and automation of other key business processes. The time saved and insights gained by automation make it clear how a small business CRM saves you time and resources as compared to doing business on a spreadsheet.

4. No more juggling multiple systems

Tacking customer sales in one spreadsheet, managing service in another, and using yet another for marketing campaigns is a recipe for wasted resources. Instead of juggling multiple systems, pull everything together under a single CRM system, and redirect your time to more valuable activities, like growth planning, relationship building, or business development.

5. Your data is secure       

When you run your business off of spreadsheets, it’s all too easy for your invaluable data to be deleted, copied, or shared. You work too hard to win customers and earn their trust. Don’t lose it all to the weakest link: spreadsheets. Keep your invaluable data secure in a cloud-based CRM designed with security and trust in mind.

Prepare for growth on the right technology.

Many small businesses don’t stay small for long, and working off spreadsheets can quickly become a drain on growing operations. A customer relationship management system gives your business a strong foundation, whether your goal is to grow or just grow closer to your existing customers. CRM goes beyond relationship tracking, and helps with everything from managing marketing campaigns to servicing your customers.

Free tools like spreadsheets can be great when you first get started, but a CRM is an investment in your business’s future. The resources you put into getting going will save you valuable time and money down the road.

Salesforce can help you find customers, win their businesses, and keep them happy so you can grow your business faster than ever. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions.


Originally published on The Salesforce 360 Blog.

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