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by Gillian
on July 17, 2013


Whether you are in marketing, sales or virtually any field of business, keeping close tabs on all your contacts is key. Once upon a time this meant keeping a Rolodex on your desk that you could rifle through for phone numbers and – what were those called? – Oh yeah, fax numbers. And mailing addresses. By now pretty much everyone has migrated their contacts to their computers, making them much easier to store and sort. But are you sure that you’re getting the most out of your contacts? If you’re keeping them in Excel, the answer is probably No.
Using Microsoft Excel (or another spreadsheet program like Google Docs), probably seems like a great way to store your contacts. It takes barely any resources to keep that contacts list open all day and reference it quickly whenever necessary. But the fact is that you could be doing a lot more than looking up phone numbers, which is why as a busy professional, you need to consider making the switch to a CRM.

What is a CRM?

CRM is an acronym that stands for Customer Relationship Management. Once you get over the initial shock of the fact that someone is using an acronym on the internet, you can start thinking about what this type of software does. Like a spreadsheet, you can enter your contacts and any relevant information about them directly into the software and then access those contacts anytime you choose. Today, many CRM systems offer cloud-based software that can be accessed from any computer (or even mobile device) that is connected to the internet. Other CRMs require the installation of software and, therefore, are only accessible from a certain computer or network.

Why is a CRM Better Than Excel?

Choosing a CRM for your contact management needs instead of a simple spreadsheet can make your life easier, no matter who you are. For one thing, a CRM allows you to enter more information about each contact. While Excel is very limited by the spreadsheet format, a CRM lets you enter not only basic data but also attach relevant files (like invoices or past orders) and organize them in a whole host of ways. Having a CRM for a company can also be an advantage because it means that teams can share contacts easily and quickly pick up the slack when someone is out of the office or leaves the company. Additionally, a CRM means that you can integrate your calendar and set reminders for follow-up calls, meetings, or whatever else makes sense for you.

How Do I Import My Contacts?

You may feel resistant to making the switch because, well, change is scary and sometimes also a pain. But switching your contacts into a CRM is easy. For most CRMs, you’ll just need to export your Excel spreadsheet into a .csv file and then import it to the CRM. Whichever CRM you choose will likely have easy to follow instructions for this step, so don’t be worried.

Which CRM Should I Choose?

Once you have decided that a CRM is right for you (hint: it probably is), you just have to choose the one that fits your business. Some cloud-based options require a monthly subscription fee, which can vary depending on the number of users while some just require a one time purchase. As with any business investment, be sure to do some comparison-shopping to be sure you’re getting the right deal for your situation.
Though the change might seem intimidating at first, switching to a CRM sooner rather than later is the best way to start making your contacts work more efficiently for you as soon as possible, freeing up more time for you run your business.

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