If you look at the sales CRM market, you’ll find a variety of options and alternatives to Excel – of which Tracks is one. But just because you have alternatives to Excel doesn’t mean you should chose one over that trusty old spreadsheet.
Years ago, I used Excel for tracking sales and managing a sales pipeline. It worked then, and can still work you and your small business.
So in this article I’m going to share what I used as a business development manager (and you can download it too). In a follow up article I’ll share the limitations and why some people chose Tracks (and other sales CRMs) over a spreadsheet.
Focus on what matters
In our sales pipeline essentials article we talk about what you should focus on. An Excel spreadsheet allows you to achieve this focus and then easily do more calculations if you need to. The spreadsheet I describe below assumes that these things matter:
- Monthly revenue
- Targets – monthly and yearly
- Sales activity
- Regular reviews
Dissecting the workbook
First of all, you’ll see that there are worksheets for each month. It’s good to have a record for each month. When I used this spreadsheet, me and two others met monthly. A new worksheet per month made sense. It was then easy to refer back.
The other worksheets you’ll see are products and clients. Products is whatever you sell and has your targets on it and pulls from the monthly worksheets. The clients worksheet is just useful to have. It shows you who is spending and who is not. And it can be good for prompts on who is not spending.
Dissecting the monthly worksheet
This worksheet is really the most important worksheet. If you do nothing else make sure you update this monthly at your sales review. Down column A you’ll see a number of headings explained below:
Yearly performance: Pretty straightforward – how are you doing against your yearly targets?
This month’s performance: Again, straightforward – how are you doing this month (or last month) against this month’s targets?
This month’s billing: The use of “billing” is interesting here. Billing matters. Things like email confirmations that indicate a sale are good, but actually sending out an invoice is what matters. When you are small you need to monitor the invoices you are sending – this is sales!
Next month’s billing: If you meet once a month to talk about sales, it’s always good to have an eye on the next month. There may be things you need to do, people to speak to and so on. Having this as part of your monthly meeting keeps it front of mind.
Proposals pipeline: There are important aspects of sales like the number of meetings you have with clients or prospects. But when you are small (and probably don’t have a sales team), a critical part of sales management is knowing how many proposals you have out there. Proposals assume that there is a “project” or that the prospect has a “need”. Keep an eye on your proposals pipeline and always be following up on it.
New sales material / activity: If you’re an agency or a professional services firm that relies on projects coming in, your going to want to make sure you are promoting your services. Have a list of activity from conferences you are attending to marketing material you are sending out. Without this you’ll find it hard to feed your sales pipeline.
So to conclude, you don’t need a CRM system to manage your sales if you run a small business, agency or firm. You can do a lot with Excel. It has its limits of course, so in the next article we’ll share why some customers chose Tracks over a spreadsheet for their sales tracking and pipeline management.