Toolkit

When to switch from Spreadsheets to a CRM

This is a guest blog written by Ragini Campion from HubSpot for Startups, a member of the Maria 01 Partner Network.
Struggling with messy spreadsheets? In this blog post you can learn when to switch from spreadsheets & explore the benefits of CRM tools with expert insights from HubSpot for Startups.

When to switch from Spreadsheets to a CRM

You’ve scheduled a day of calls with clients, and now it’s time to input notes in your spreadsheet of customer relationships. You dread opening the file, sorting through the cells and cells of data, just to add a few new notes to reference later. It’s a familiar story; attracting prospects, engaging with them to sell and connecting with customers is all exciting stuff, until you have to do the administrative work.

But what if you could instantly add notes, organise client data, and generate reports, all in one easy-to-use platform rather than scrolling through endless rows and columns or searching for each individual name?

With CRM tools, you can navigate through customer and prospect data quickly and even go one step further and integrate your email activity, website forms, email marketing, and first-party data so that all your customer interactions sit in one neat, consistent record – one source of truth for your business. That means you can generate more leads, boost sales, and give customers a better experience that keeps them coming back.

Why spreadsheets aren’t an effective CRM system

Many small business owners will intuitively start keeping track of their customer relationships in spreadsheets, but this is inefficient and will only become worse over time.

There are several reasons why spreadsheets limit your ability to run effective, efficient and long-term customer relationship management.

Data security

Data security is important for any business, and customers aren’t willing to give money to companies that don’t protect their information. Spreadsheets aren’t as secure as CRM tools. For example, if a company employee quits or is fired, they may still have valuable information saved on their laptop.


CRM tools are cloud-based, so the information can’t be saved to one device, and you can control access for each user. If someone leaves the company, you can restrict their access or remove their account to better protect the data. Check out how HubSpot invests in Data security across its systems here.

Multiple sources, duplicate files

If you use Excel or other spreadsheet software that isn’t based in the cloud, it’s easy for team members to create, save and send various versions of the same spreadsheet. This can make it confusing to track down the most accurate and recent version of the data. With a good quality CRM, you can track the latest information in your activity timeline for each contact and company you engage with, at a glance.

Lack of customisation

Then there’s customisation. Sure, you can colour-code your spreadsheets, but there’s little else you can do to make the sheets easier to view and more in tune with your business’s needs.

There are many CRM tools out there to choose from, and each one offers its own options for customisation. With HubSpot, you can adapt how your CRM records look, create custom properties, integrate it with other tools you use frequently and collaborate with your team, all within one workspace. And the best part? It doesn’t take a team of specialist developers to create customisations for you – with an easy-to-use, intuitive UX, you can do a lot of the customisation yourself!

Difficulty using data to guide decision-making

With all the data your business manages, spreadsheets can quickly become hard to read and drawing insight from this scattered data can be a huge manual lift. CRM tools organise data, make the information easy to read, and will even generate reports and highlight specific CRM data for you. With HubSpot’s library of out-of-the-box report libraries and pre-built dashboards for Marketing, Sales and Service metrics, reporting and drawing insight becomes that much easier.

So, what is a CRM?

CRM stands for customer relationship management and is a system used to track your interactions and manage relationships with your customer. The data is stored in a central database and is accessible to multiple people within an organisation.


A CRM helps streamline sales, marketing efforts, customer service, accounting, and management for growing companies. Multiple people can access and edit information about a particular client’s customer journey. Compared to spreadsheets, CRM-specific tools and software are more intuitive and can adapt as the relationships with your clients grow and change over time.

When to switch to a CRM?

As a start-up or small business owner, you may be wondering when is the right time to make the leap from spreadsheets to a CRM system. While this can vary based on your customer base and company budget, a recent HubSpot analysis found that most start-ups move to an official CRM between 3-6 months after raising their initial capital.

How do you know when it’s time to switch from spreadsheets to CRM? Don’t wait for time to tell. Here are some of the signs that your business is ready for a more legitimate CRM system. If you are:

  • Wasting time and energy jumping between different tools & systems for front-office
  • Struggling to report effectively to investors, forecast sales or find data on business metrics to plan strategy
  • Getting ready to implement a project at scale; entering a new market, onboarding a new enterprise client or running a brand campaign
  • Expecting new members to join your team or if attrition is high in your industry or in the ecosystem

Spreadsheets are easy for most people to use and understand – to a point. But as your business grows, you’ll need to store more information about the relationships you have with customers. When you start spending hours poring over spreadsheets and feel a sense of dread when it’s time to evaluate leads, your business is probably ready to switch to a CRM tool.

How do you choose a good CRM?

When you turn to CRM, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get started sooner. Once you’ve done your research and found a good solution, it’s always a good idea to look at what other businesses similar to yours are saying about the solution. 


Modern CRM solutions support the complex workflows of fast-growing sales teams. CRM systems keep your team in sync, facilitate more effective use of time and eliminate many of the mindless tasks that take up time without adding value. Sign up for HubSpot’s free CRM through Maria 01 and start exploring how a CRM can make a difference to your life & business! HubSpot offers early-stage companies and teams up to 90% off Professional grade Marketing, Sales, Service and CMS tools with the free-forever CRM at the centre. Contact the team at Maria 01 for information on how to unlock the HubSpot discount and Startup program.

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