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Excel or CRM: which should you choose?


There are many different ways to stock your contact databases. Several tools on the market can help you to do so, like Microsoft Excel or CRMs.

Having a clean database, and most importantly an updated one, then becomes a real challenge for companies.

Should you choose Excel or a CRM to stock your contact database?

What's a CRM ?

A Customer Relationship Management Software

A CRM is a platform helping you manage customer relationships. They are usually used by Marketing and Sales Teams primarily for stocking and centralizing essential contact data for their prospecting.

A CRM allows you to manage all of your contacts during your sales process (from prospects to converting clients).

It also allows members of a same team to follow each prospect's journey in the sales funnel. The CRM is therefore a major actor in tracking your sales process.

Among the CRMs currently on the market, HubSpot, Pipedrive, Salesforce, Soho CRM, Sellsy, Monday, or Freshsales are some of the most popular ones.

Main features of a CRM

There are different types of CRMs that can work for all types of companies (Start-Ups, SMBs, big groups, etc.) Features, pricing and tool complexity can vary from one CRM to another, therefore tailoring the CRM experience to each company.

Here are some of the usual CRM features:

Tracking your Sales Funnel

A sales funnel gives an overall view on the progress of your interactions with prospects and clients.

You can also segment them by categories (warm prospect, in the process of converting,  acquired clients). This segmentation can also be done based on lead-scoring: you can give a score (for instance between 0 and 10) based on predefined criteria.

This ranking can help you quickly identify the warmest leads, and therefore those who are more likely to convert.

👉 Find out more about Lead Scoring

Centralizing contact data

One of the major features of CRMs is the centralization of customer data with the creation of contact cards. These cards hold all of the information about a client and all you need to track your past and current interactions. Each card holds:

  • Names
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Occupation
  • Social media profiles


Most CRMs give reports to their users. These can be presented through dashboards or as csv files.

These reports allow you to compare and visualize the performances of your campaigns to adapt your next ones, so as to boost your converting rate.

Adding automated workflows

You can set up workflows thanks to tools like Zapier, n8n, or Make, which bring additional features to your CRM.

For instance, Dropcontact's native integration with Pipedrive, HubSpot and (soon) Salesforce can automatically enrich your contact database, merge duplicates directly in your CRM, or standardize your data.

A collaborative tool to keep up with your prospects

One of the major features of a CRM also lies in the fact that you can share online data with your whole team. This collaborative aspect allows you to track your interactions with your prospects and to give your team access to real-time data, even when one of your colleague is absent.

team work gif

Pros of CRMs

Among the many advantages of using a CRM, here's a few:

  • Optimizing your productivity: you can focus more on your sales and not waste your time doing repetitive daily tasks.
  • Personalizing your interactions with your prospects : using a CRM allows you to adapt your interactions depending on your prospects' and clients' status or to create customer loyalty by sending follow-ups to your already converted clients.
  • Saving time: most of CRMs create a card for each contact and each piece of information and then add them to a dashboard so that you can have a clear overview of your ongoing deals or that of a given period. This structure allows you to have all of this information within easy reach.
  • A deeper knowledge of your clients and of their behaviour, which in turn will boost your sales and your customer retention rate.
  • Having updated and centralized data, thanks to Dropcontact's native integration: you will not have to worry again about contact duplicates, typos or formatting differences. Big plus: it's all automated 🪄

👉 Find out more about Dropcontact's integration

To know about CRMs, we've compiled a comparative list of the CRMs on the market to help you choose the perfect one for your company.

The stakes of having a clean and updated CRM

Having a CRM is good, having a clean and constantly updated CRM is better. If you take into account the fact that between 25 and 33% of contact data become obsolete each year, updating them becomes a must-do if you don't want to lose them!

Yet this process is quite time-consuming… Even though it is essential to keep using your CRM. So how can you clean your data and what are the factors to consider if you want to keep your CRM updated?

How to clean your data?

Detecting and merging contact duplicates

Several steps are necessary for cleaning your CRM data, starting with deleting contact duplicates.

Contact duplicates can in fact be created if several team members are working in the same CRM and both add the same contact.

This can also happen if there is a typo in the first name, last name or company name of the contact.

Solutions like Dropcontact, Dedupely or Insycle are solutions that can detect and merge contact duplicates, directly in your CRM.

Correcting incorrect or incomplete data

It's very important to check that the data in your CRM is complete, with all fields filled-in without errors (e.g. spelling, encoded characters, emojis, etc.)

This type of task is really time-consuming if you do it manually. With such repetitive tasks, the risk of error is multiplied by ten. This is why we recommend to automate this verification with an integration like Dropcontact.

data cleaning

Updating obsolete data in your CRM

As a reminder, about 33% of the contacts in your database become obsolete each year. There are several reasons why, like someone changing companies, jobs or marital status.

It then becomes essential to get their new email address and their updated contact information. However, this task can quickly become tedious and almost impossible for bigger companies.

So how can you make sure to keep your contact data updated in your CRM?

Dropcontact's integration, the all-in-one tool to keep your CRM clean

Dropcontact's integration allows Sales and Marketing teams to put their CRM at the heart of their practice by:

  • Benefitting from the (daily and non-stop!) cleaning of their existing database
  • Updating this database  (see you never, obsolete data 💚)
  • Rid their day of time-consuming and tedious tasks like manually sorting out their contact list (or how to save +5h each week 🤯)

And all of this is… AUTOMATED 🔥

automatic cleaning by Dropcontact

Dropcontact's main features in your  CRM

Dropcontact operates on your contacts and on the structures already set up in your CRM. Among its main features, Dropcontact's integration can:

  • Clean, format, update, enrich, test and verify the existing data and the one coming in daily in your CRM
  • Automatically detect and merge the contact and company duplicates ealready in your CRM thanks to its very own powerful and advanced algorithms. All of your updated data is kept, Dropcontact does not delete any information!
  • Gets the professional phone numbers and the LinkedIn Profile URLs in the email signature which your teammates have received, so as to enrich and update the already existing contact cards.

Native integration in Pipedrive, HubSpot and Salesforce

Dropcontact is natively integrated with Pipedrive, HubSpot and Salesforce CRMs to get your data to the next level.

The integration can be set up in one click, with full transparency so that your CRM is always updated and operational 💚

What is Microsoft Excel ?

An online data management tool

An intuitive and accessible spreadsheet

Excel is a spreadsheet tool and part of the Microsoft Office 365 Suite. It can create tables, lists, charts, and dynamic formulas which vary depending on the selected cell.

Excel is easy to use and works for every type of user, from beginners to experts. It's also easily accessible since it's available on Windows, Mac, Android and even iPhone.

Excel has several features and allows you to multitask, from your accounting, your finance management, your logistics, to your database management.

You can stock a (very) high number of data on one Excel sheet. Fun fact: you can have up to 1 048 576 rows and 16 384 columns, Enough to keep a good number of contacts in your database 🤯

Using Excel as a contact database

Several Sales and Marketing Teams choose Excel to store their contact database. The tool works both locally and online, so that you can easily share your work with your colleagues.

Here are Excel's pros and cons as a contact database.

The pros of using Excel as a database

Excel has several advantages when it comes to stocking your contact database. Its ease of use makes it accessible for everyone.

A beginner can do "basic" tasks in Excel like creating a new table, adding values and texts, filtering data, etc.

Sharing data is also very easy since all your files are accessible online. Each team member can access the file and modify it online, simultaneously with others.

Excel is also very affordable. You can buy an Excel lifetime license for one computer for 149€ with a single purchase. You can also buy an annual subscription from 7€ per month and per user, which gives you access to the whole Microsoft Office 365 Suite (which includes Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook and Onedrive.)

Lastly, you can automate some tasks thanks to tools like Zapier, Make ou n8n, directly in your Excel file (but online only!) For instance, you can create workflows to automate the addition of contacts in your Excel file, the automatic exportation of contact data directly to your Cold Email tool or the enrichment and update of your contact data directly in Excel with a tool like Dropcontact.

However, setting up this kind of automation must be done for each of your Excel files and can become quite time-consuming, especially when CRMs offer this type of automation natively.

The cons of using Excel as a database

Excel can nonetheless become quickly inadequate when you have a very high number of stocked contacts. For instance, updating your contacts is a common problem because of the multiple lines and columns (checking each row can quickly become tedious) in your document.

Most of the time, you'll have to manually enter your data into Excel, by adding your own labels, filling in fields one by one, etc. The major inconvenient of manual input is the chance of entering data duplicates, to have formatting problems or to enter incorrect data (with spelling mistakes for instance).

Tracking your data can also become difficult in the long run (lack of clarity, arduous reading and analysis of your data, multiple tabs and sheets, numerous columns, etc.)

Lastly, the modification history on your Excel file is limited. Some modifications cannot be tracked (editing for instance), and the history of modifications is only kept for 30 days. Additionally, you won't be able to restore any modification made prior to this date. You won't be able to restore a past backup from this history either.

Making your choice : stocking your contact data in Excel or in a CRM?

Now that you know (almost) everything about CRMs and Excel, now is the time to make a choice for your database storage.

Excel, a good solution if you're a beginner

Excel can be good to start with your contact management. If you're a small company, or an individual business, Excel can be enough as a data management software.

However, stocking big databases with hundreds or even millions of contacts will quickly become a problem.

But don't worry, there are multiple ways to transfer your data from an Excel file to a CRM. Some CRMs even offer to directly import your data from a .csv or .xls file. Otherwise, you'll be able to set up the automation of this export with an automated workflow software like Zapier, n8n, or Make.

CRMs, a more secure and sustainable solution

If your company is booming and if your contact data base is increasingly growing, it would be better to choose a CRM.

It will make your contact management easier, as they'll be constantly updated and you'll be able to track the interactions between your team members and avoid duplicating them.

A CRM can also help you build more authentic relationships with your customers by letting you track precisely each interaction thanks to the history of your conversations available on each client card.

Lastly, CRMs have numerous native integrations that can internally automate some tasks, without needing a third-party platform.

For instance, some CRMs allow you to :

  • Add your email service provider to send emails directly from your CRM (Gmail, Outlook, etc.)
  • Add your calendar to set up meetings easily (via Google Calendar or Calendly for example)
  • Add your favorite video-call tool (Zoom, Teams)
  • Integrate your chosen Cold Email tool (lemlist, Brevo (ex-SendinBlue), etc.)
  • Integrate your daily apps (Slack, WhatsApp, Google Sheets, etc.)

And if you don't know which CRM to choose, we also help you select one depending on your company's needs.

Most frequently asked questions

How to clean your contact data?

Cleaning your contact data can be done in several steps, such as detecting and merging duplicates, fixing incorrect or incomplete data, or updating your obsolete data.

Should you stock your data in Excel or in a CRM?

Excel is a very accessible tool that can fit all types of professional profiles. It is suitable to launch your business and stock your first set of data. However, it's better to choose a CRM as soon as your business is growing. A CRM can indeed offer you multiple native features, integrated automations or a more accessible tracking of your data.

What is Excel?

Excel is spreadsheet tool which is part of Microsoft Office 365 Suite. It can create tables, lists, charts, and dynamic formulas which vary depending on the selected cells. Excel is easy to use and works for every type of user, from beginners to experts. It's also easily accessible since it's available on Windows, Mac, Android and even iPhone. Excel has several features and allows you to multitask, from your accounting, your finance management, your logistics, to your database management.
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