How to Build an Excel CRM (With Free Templates and Alternatives)

How to Build an Excel CRM (With Templates and Alternatives)

As a small business owner, you probably rely on notepads, sticky notes, and simple spreadsheets to manage your business and track who buys what, how much, and when.

These tools help you collect vital customer information, maintain your inventory, and more. However, as your business grows, sticky notes and notepads will not be enough to store important data. Enter, Customer Relationship Management software.

A CRM tool will transform your business operations and communications with existing customers and new prospects. It can foster strong client relationships and boost overall efficiency.

However, if you’re not ready to go in for a dedicated CRM software just yet, try a CRM template in Excel. Many businesses in their early stage opt for a CRM based on Excel as it is familiar, customizable, and almost free.

This comprehensive guide will show you how an Excel CRM works, how you can build one, and get you started with some free CRM templates.

What is an Excel CRM?

An Excel CRM is a customer relationship management system that leverages Microsoft Excel’s functionalities to organize and manage customer data, interactions, and sales processes. 

Excel CRM is a flexible and customizable platform that small businesses can use to maintain client relationships and streamline sales pipelines..

Using an Excel CRM allows you to organize your sales journey efficiently and manage your lead data with ease.

You or your sales team can update the CRM data regularly, add custom stages and lead sources, and export data. All this vital information is also easily accessible to your stakeholders. 

Benefits of Using Excel as a CRM

Familiarity and accessibility

From students to professionals, everyone knows how to use Excel, making the transition to an Excel CRM seamless. 

Excel is widely accessible, and no special training is required. Microsoft Excel and its alternatives are easy to learn and have several free online tutorials.

Cost-effectiveness

Small businesses are often unable to invest in software solutions due to their high prices. Price is not an issue with Microsoft Excel, as the web app is free to use. Even if you do need the paid desktop version, it works out cheaper than a regular CRM. 

The Microsoft Excel desktop app is available as a bundled subscription with the Microsoft Office suite. This eliminates the need for additional software and helps you cut costs.

Customization

Microsoft Excel is known for its practical functions and allows you to customize your CRM as per your needs. Want to define custom fields for specific customers? Go ahead and create them. Wish to rename steps within the sales pipeline according to how you work? Make the change and proceed. 

You can also use the many available CRM templates to design a CRM spreadsheet that aligns perfectly with your processes and requirements. 

Integration with other Microsoft Office apps

MS Excel integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft Office applications like MS Word and Outlook. This provides you with a holistic approach to managing customer relationships. 

Whether you’re a sales rep or a business owner, Excel integrations help you create a stunning and personalized interface for your data, at no additional cost.

Pre-built templates

Due to the popularity of Excel as a CRM, various pre-built CRM Excel templates are available for you to use, such as the bookkeeping template, opportunities template, and others. 

Simply clone available templates, feed the relevant data into the custom fields, and you’re all set to hit the ground running. From resource planning templates to client management templates, pick and choose the ones that work best for your business requirements. 

How to Build a CRM in Excel: Steps and Tips

Building an Excel CRM requires careful planning and organization. Here are the essential steps and tips to guide you through the process.

Step 1: Define your objectives

Clearly define your CRM goals and what you aim to achieve with the tool. Your goal could be to enhance lead management, maintain client relationships, or streamline sales processes.

Step 2: Create Excel sheets

Once you and your team are aligned on your future goals, use different Excel sheets to categorize information. To build CRM templates, you need the following sheets:

  • Create a Contacts list sheet to store and view contact information easily
  • Establish a Company sheet dedicated to managing data for your B2B sales leads and clients
  • Develop a Pipeline spreadsheet to track customer communications, follow up with clients, and update lead status for effective sales monitoring
  • Use a Settings sheet to incorporate details such as contact types, pipeline stages, deal status, and lead source

Step 3: Identify data points

Storing and maintaining your contact details in one place can be an effective time saver when communicating with potential customers. This will also help you avoid misplacing data, saving you from a time-consuming data recovery process. 

Navigate to your Contacts sheet in the CRM template. Ensure that, for all your customers, you consistently monitor essential details such as name, phone number, address, email, purchase details, purchase history, communication logs, and any other relevant B2B CRM data. This is also when you must define any custom fields or data you wish to collect and track.

Input all available data for each customer into the Excel workbook to facilitate seamless communication in the future.

Step 4: Input data

Once your customer database is ready, input information on deal opportunities and other related data into the premade sales pipeline. You can link this to your sales processes to maximize the accuracy and consistency and maintain the integrity of your CRM system. 

Sales reps use custom fields in the sales CRM to categorize and keep track of opportunities, and add the type of sale or service requested by potential customers. 

Identify your progress with Dashboard updates alerting you about pipeline movements. If your sales process is already pre-defined or the sales pipeline template doesn’t fit your needs, you can easily customize it. 

Step 5: Implement formulas and functions

Leverage Excel’s formulas and functions to automate calculations, analyze data, and streamline processes. For example, you can use SUMIFS to track sales totals and COUNTIFS to analyze customer interactions. Make your CRM template a customizable sales process that can evolve as your business expands.

You can also create pivot tables to quickly sort and filter through your pipeline to manage and analyze your data. 

Sort your sales pipeline table based on the estimated value of an opportunity, or select the drop-down menu and sort the data from A to Z.

Step 6: Design visually appealing dashboards

Within your Excel-based CRM, create visually appealing dashboards that provide a quick overview of key metrics. Use charts and graphs to represent data trends effectively.

Some quick tips to remember while using an Excel CRM template are: 

  • Regularly update your CRM to ensure accuracy and relevance
  • Train your team on using the Excel CRM efficiently
  • Backup your Excel files frequently to prevent data loss

5 CRM Templates in Excel: Features and Their Usage 

1. Excel CRM template for contact logs

Excel CRM template by Vertex42
Keep a record of your contacts with this CRM template from Vertex42

Record details about every contact you make with a customer or a prospect, the mode of contact, the purpose, and follow-up actions in a contact CRM Excel template. 

This free CRM template helps you manage your contact list and reach the right customer at the right time. This helps avoid spamming a current customer with unwanted communication.

2. Excel CRM template for sales funnel

Free CRM template for Excel by Salesflare
Record and track your sales opportunity with this CRM Excel template by Salesflare

Managing the sales funnel is crucial for any business. A sales funnel CRM Excel template comes in handy when professionals and small business owners want to simply input basic details to track upcoming deals, expected close dates, and the progress of point of contact (PoC) with a prospective client.

Such a template also helps you track progress through the pipeline, deal size, and so on. 

3. Excel CRM template for sales log

Sales Log CRM Template by Vertex42
Stay on top of the costs, discounts offered to your customers and sales with this CRM template by Vertex42

A free sales log template helps you record every sale you make with additional details such as cost, discounts offered, and invoice numbers. This template makes it easy to stay on top of your daily, weekly, and monthly sales. 

Run sales reports on average ticket sizes, total sales, and more with this easy-to-use and free CRM Excel template.

4. Excel CRM template for opportunities report

Free Excel CRM template by Close
Review your leads who have the potential to turn customers using the CRM template by Close.com

As a sales manager, you must frequently review opportunities that can convert potential clients to contractual customers. A simple CRM template report for opportunities helps you stay updated on each sales rep’s performance, track lost deals, intervene in late-stage deals, and prioritize your top sales opportunities. 

5. Excel CRM template for sales forecast

Excel CRM template for sales forecast by Spreadsheet
Get predictions of your sales to plan your purchase and inventory decisions better using CRM template by Spreadsheet

As a business owner, having predictability in sales is the key to better planning and more accurate sales forecasts. 

Use a sales forecast CRM Excel template to predict incoming sales. You can forecast business revenue and filter it by company type, salesperson, and deal stage. 

Limitations of an Excel CRM 

While Excel CRMs offer several advantages, they also have some limitations worth considering:

Limited scalability

Excel is not designed to handle extensive databases, and as your business grows, you may find it difficult to manage a large volume of customer data using a CRM spreadsheet. 

Collaboration challenges

As your team grows, collaboration on Excel files could become cumbersome, leading to version control issues and potential data discrepancies. Limited Excel access rights for users make tracking and identifying changes extremely time-consuming.

Lack of automation

A CRM Excel spreadsheet requires more manual input than dedicated CRM software. When creating your customer databases, you must manually enter data to ensure that all customer information is stored and recorded properly. This can potentially slow down business processes, and you also run the risk of human error leading to lost data. 

Security concerns 

Excel files may not provide the same level of security as dedicated CRM platforms, leaving essential data vulnerable to unauthorized access or loss. Excel files can crash anytime and backups may not be an effective solution. Anyone accessing the Excel workbook can easily copy the data, or worse, delete it. 

No audit trail

It is hard to track changes made to an Excel file. In most cases, Excel files are accessible to multiple team members with the required access and permissions to make changes. This makes tracking and auditing a challenging process. 

The Best Alternative to an Excel CRM

ClickUp is a powerful tool with robust CRM capabilities that seamlessly integrate with your existing workflows. 

ClickUp’s CRM Template helps you grow your customer relationships with out-of-the-box tools to track all your leads and opportunities. It provides a visual representation of your pipeline and aids in efficient decision-making.

CRM Template by ClickUp
Use ClickUp’s CRM Template to maximize your customer relationships, track leads and opportunities with pipelines

The CRM features within ClickUp help you centralize crucial contact information in a dedicated database for sales data. This enables you to  prioritize tasks for your sales team according to the sales stage, thereby boosting sales velocity. 

Businesses using Excel for their CRM processes can effortlessly transition to ClickUp by importing their existing data

ClickUp allows you to customize task views to help manage your sales and marketing processes. Apart from the default List View, you can also see your data in a Board View grouped by status, or a Calendar View with meetings and other scheduled events.

You could also choose to have the Table View which will showcase all your data in a simple grid. 

Drag and drop any task into the next column to automatically update its status with ClickUp’s Kanban-like Board view
Drag and drop any task into the next column to automatically update its status with ClickUp’s Kanban-like Board view

With ClickUp you can assign tasks to team members and track their progress. You can also set user permissions based on roles.  

With mentions, comments, and inbuilt communication features, ClickUp provides a collaborative environment for teams to work together 

Moreover,  Automations in ClickUp  help you streamline repetitive tasks and save time and effort.. 

Whether you are a small business or a large conglomerate, ClickUp provides a comprehensive solution for your CRM needs. 

From contact management to deal tracking and task views, ClickUp’s intuitive features make it a robust CRM software to boost your business.

Enhance Your Customer Relationship Management with ClickUp 

While planning your CRM strategy, consider your business requirements and evaluate the scalability of your chosen CRM solution. This will help you decide whether to create a CRM in Excel or opt for a dedicated solution such as ClickUp.

While Excel CRMs offer business owners a cost-effective and customizable solution, their disadvantages can hinder growth. 

ClickUp, on the other hand, emerges as an effective alternative that will scale with your business. 

Robust CRM templates, advanced features like ClickUp AI, seamless integration with multiple tools, ClickUp Dashboards, and collaboration capabilities make it a better CRM solution compared to Excel or Google Sheets. 

With ClickUp’s CRM, businesses of all sizes can manage customer relationships, streamline processes, and work collaboratively to  foster increased customer satisfaction.
Implement a dedicated CRM software for your business by signing up on ClickUp for free.

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