Have You Outgrown Microsoft Excel as a Sales Management Tool?

Of the 58 percent of companies that track their company’s wins and losses, the majority use Microsoft Excel as their Pipeline solution. Why might that be?

Well, for those companies that really want to track the basics about each opportunity AND only have one or two sales people, then Microsoft Excel as a CRM solution serves its purpose. You can easily create a running total of wins, and a running total of losses; and each can be easily stored, organized and understood. But once your sales team begins to grow and find more opportunities, now  your Capture Executive (Capture Management) team is ready for a more advanced solution that can handle more strategic capabilities; perhaps Microsoft Excel should no longer be your Pipeline system.


But how do you know if you’ve graduated from Microsoft Excel as a CRM? Ask yourself these questions to understand if something more advanced is right for you:

How Many Capture Executives (Capture Managers) Use This Spreadsheet?

Or even, do each of your Capture Executives store their information in separate spreadsheets? Having multiple administrators and editors of a single spreadsheet is a recipe for disaster; while having each user create their own spreadsheet is disadvantageous major cause for duplication and loss of interactivity as well.

Think of the advantages of cloud-based sharing: While it can be convenient that each person can contribute individually, think of the potential for disaster. With a simple, accidental click of a button – one person can erase everything. However, should the entire team keep their work and contributions separate, if one person leaves your company, chances are high that they’ll take their knowledge – all contained in their own personal spreadsheet – with them.  Don’t wait for situations like these to arise.

Are You Collecting More Capture Information than There Are Cells for?

While Excel is simple to use, its capabilities are simplistic as well. And if you are looking to get a more granular view on potential bids, you may run into some issues. Primarily, that there is no easy way to categorize and store your information. While Microsoft Excel does have a seemingly infinite quantity of cells, there may not be an easy way to categorize this information. Sometimes your Capture Managers will need more than just a list, they need their information to provide comprehensive insight to their management team. So if your Capture Managers are unhappy with how they are being forced to store their information OR you, as an Executive, are not getting all the information from your team in a combined and management-centric set of views, perhaps it’s time to upgrade.

Are You Ready to Measure How Strong Each Capture Really Is?

Again, this goes back to not only how your information is stored, but how easily it can be manipulated to actually be a proactive tool. While an at-a-glance higher-level arsenal of information can be useful, it may be more beneficial for your Capture Managers and Executive team to easily be able to analyze this data. Thus, they can take into account facets of each bid such as:

  1.       How well do we really know this Customer?
  2.       How much information has been collected
  3.       What does the competition look like and how do they compare to our offerings?
  4.       What team mates have been added, talked to and what value do they add?
  5.       What documents have been collected?

Then all the information to understand their chance of winning each bid is right in front of everyone and available for review and discussion, or available to determine whether their time could be better allocated elsewhere.

Would Your Capture Executives Benefit from Grading Each Deal?

While Capture Executives should be working and communicating with the rest of the company (after all, a Capture Executive that holds on to all of their own information could potentially disappear with all of that information should they leave), they will always ”sell” their choices for the deals that they want to go after. The strategic decisions of Capture Executives should be trusted, however that is oftentimes not the case. Often, Capture Executives are forced to bring each optimal sale to their management, and pitch that deal to them.

This is highly inefficient; the managerial staff has other responsibilities that they could be focusing on, and the Capture Executives could be more directly working on winning the deal.  No Capture Executive wants a deal they are working on to be shut down – limits their possibilities of winning deals in the future.  Management only has so much budget to spend on chasing and shaping captures.  Now we have a challenge – does management really get a fair evaluation of each deal?

This is where a smart software solution, (other than Microsoft Excel), could benefit your team. Certain Pipeline systems actually use the details provided by the Capture Executive to grade each capture – unemotionally – and this grade can be viewed by the managerial team. Thus, the higher level employees of the team can make an objective, informed decision about the Capture Executive’s choices, without the Capture Executive actually having to sell the deal.

Are You Looking for an Effective Way to Transfer These Capture Management Details?

Once your Excel Spreadsheets become complex documents, it may seem like there is no way to easily input this information into a PowerPoint deck. That is where integration capabilities of more advanced software come into play. These capabilities will allow you to integrate more complex sets of information from within the system into other necessary programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Word, as well as systems like FedBizOpps.

In Conclusion

Perhaps at this point in time, you can still use Microsoft Excel as a Sales Management tool, and that’s completely fine. However, if you are looking to grow and progress, you may at some point identify with some of the obstacles that we presented, and thus you will know that you have outgrown Microsoft Excel as a Sales Management tool, and ready to look for a more specialized CRM solution.


About Skip Blackburn