Sage CRM Blog

[Webinar] 8 compelling reasons for moving sales forecasts out of spread sheets and into CRM


Has your business outgrown spread sheets?

Spread sheets are a great tool. You can use them to create budgets, build lists and generate some basic reports.

They will always have some role in an organisation but no matter how skilled or creative you are with spread sheets, they have their limits.

You cannot run a growing sales organisation solely through spread sheets.

Managers that try are unknowingly paying a penalty in terms of lost time, limited access to information and ultimately lost sales.

Here are eight compelling reasons why you should move your sales forecasting out of spread sheets and into a CRM tool.

1. You can improve the quality of forecasts

Spread sheet-based forecasts can be limited because they don’t provide information like:

  • How many leads, presentations or quotations are required to generate a sale.
  • The number of leads or enquires required to meet a target.
  • The effectiveness of particular sales and marketing campaigns and the response from different markets or segments.
  • The volume of pre-sold business and the progress in respect of expected orders.
  • The number of customers who placed orders during the previous period or during the same period last year.
  • The number of customers that are spending more or less on a particular product or service.
  • The average level of discount on sales.
  • Sales trends by product, by market or by segment.

A successful CRM tool can fill this gap and, when connected to your business’s ERP solution, it can offer greater insight into the purchasing history of customers.

2. You can act on more accurate sales information

If different business departments can only access data from their part of the business, or if they are using inaccurate or out-of-date data, your business’s productivity and efficiency will be reduced.

A spreadsheet provides a snapshot of a point in time and, unless it’s manually updated, quickly becomes outdated.

For example, forecasts for the next quarter won’t update when you reschedule a potential sale that is set to close.

This is compounded when sales and management teams use different versions of a particular spread sheet.

This is where a CRM tool can help.

3. You can stay grounded in reality

A CRM tool is dynamic and reflects changes in terms of stalled sales and recently acquired business through a pipeline analysis or forecast.

Sales people are by nature optimistic, and this optimism can creep into their interpretation of spread sheet based sales reports.

As a manager you may have faith in the judgement of your sales team, but sometimes you need to be able to interpret the logic behind their graphs and charts

CRM enables you to taper their optimism with reality. If you decide on Sage CRM, you can access it securely from anywhere, set up automatic reports and generate predefined graphs.

This means you can ensure a more objective standard of completed work in respect of each account or opportunity.

4. You can plan ahead more effectively

Spread sheets don’t trigger actions in a diary when an action is allocated to an account or an opportunity. And they don’t provide a record of the associated actions, emails, meetings and so on.

This makes it harder to figure out your next action for a particular customer, client and account. Often, the only way to find out is through a flurry of emails, phone calls or meetings about meetings.

With CRM, on the other hand, you can review past meetings notes, address outstanding actions and plan your company’s marketing and sales initiatives based on current customer information.

5. You can protect your business

Spread sheets can be a personal thing. In many cases, only key sales managers or reps understand the quirks of a complicated spread sheet and how the various formulae were derived or calculated.

What happens if these sales managers or reps leave your company?

Their knowledge goes with them, and the spread sheets they leave behind become irrelevant or unusable and have to be recreated.

If you want to protect your business from the effects of staff turnover, keep company, contact and opportunity data in a central repository.

This way, you don’t lose key information or have to reinvent the wheel each time a rep or manager leaves.

6. You can use better metrics to track progress

A spread sheet can’t give a sales manager the metrics they need to build and stand over solid sales forecasts.

These metrics include the ratio of leads to orders, the win rate of proposals, and quotations.

Measuring and tracking metrics allows managers to apply an activity-based, or bottom up approach, to sales forecasts.

This means forecasts are based on targeted activity levels, such as the number of leads and sales presentations, the number of proposals and quotes, and historically proven conversion rates.

7. You can take the surprise out of a setback

Managers shouldn’t have to spend hours preparing a report in order to know what is going on with a campaign.

They shouldn’t have to wait until the end of the month for reliable and current sales data. Managers should be able to see their pipeline at a glance.

They should be able to identify priority accounts, opportunities, customers that are at risk, and so on.

They need a dashboard of key metrics, which alerts them immediately of a deal that has failed to close or a customer who didn’t re-order.

There’s nothing more unnerving than an unexpected setback against a sales target. CRM won’t prevent these setbacks, but it will take the surprise out of the sting.

8. You can guard your time

Managers who track sales and marketing campaigns with spread sheets are losing valuable working hours.

They are spending time gathering information and preparing reports that they could spend more productively.

Using a CRM tool, you can see as much or as little, customer, campaign, and opportunity information as you need ahead of any meeting.

And you don’t need a salesperson to tell you what is happening in your company.

CRM should save you time and enable you to ring-fence hours of your day that you can use to manage key projects and company-wide initiatives.

Find out more in our upcoming webinar

This is a topic we're covering on our next webinar:

*Has your business outgrown spread sheets? *

It takes place on June 4th at 07.00 GMT+1 and 16.00 GMT+1.

Afterwards, you'll get a free eBook.

We don't want you to miss out, so please register today.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Sage CRM Community.