How to use Google Sheets as a free CRM: 5 easy steps to sales success
Quick question: how many business cards and sticky notes with important information are scattered around your desk currently?
Maybe you’ve always had a problem with organization. Or maybe you’re getting so many new leads that it’s become harder and harder to keep up (if so, congrats!).
Either way, it’s time for an upgrade.
A customer relationship management system (CRM) is a way for you to store important prospect and customer-related contact information and data. Not only that, any good CRM system should leave you with no doubts on where you are and where you’re heading with your sales process.
If you’re looking for an easy way to get started, keep reading. We’re going to show you how to use Google Sheets as a CRM in just five easy steps.
(Psst… We’re going to show you how to use our free CRM spreadsheet template SalesTable as an example. If you don’t have it yet, go ahead and grab free access here.)
Here are 5 easy steps to start using Google Sheets as a CRM
1. Make sure a Google Sheets CRM is right for you
Before we get started, let’s make one thing clear: Google Sheets absolutely does not replace a real CRM.
Any company with a large sales team and hundreds or thousands of prospects and customers to handle could never use Google Sheets as a CRM.
That said, if you...
- Are a small business looking to grow and keep their contacts organized
- Have only one or two junior sales people, or sales is just a part-time activity being handled by a couple of people on your team
- Need a fast and easy way to store contacts but don’t have the budget for a true CRM
...then a Google Sheets CRM could be a low-cost way to start. Remember: you can always move to a real CRM later. If you'd like to try Close CRM, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial—no credit card required!
2. Make a copy of the spreadsheet CRM template
To start, access our Google Sheets CRM template if you haven’t already. Once you have it, open it up and select ‘File’ in the top menu. Then, select ‘Make a Copy’.
Now you can use this Google Sheet template as a CRM in your own Google Drive account. This saves you the time of creating your own Google Sheet CRM, plus this template has some pretty cool features that we’ll discuss later.
Now it’s time to adapt this template to your business.
3. Customize the Google Sheets CRM template to fit your needs
It’s time to make this template scream YOU. Here’s how to do it:
Define how your sales process works
To start, you need to have a clear view of your sales process.
If you haven’t already, take some time to define the sales process that you’re currently using. Write down the steps you currently take to make a sale and see if you can find ways to improve it.
Just be careful not to overcomplicate your sales process: a simpler process that works is always better than a complex process that doesn’t. Even when it comes to documenting your process, I'm always strongly advocating to start with minimum viable sales documentation.
When you know exactly how your own sales process works, you’ll be better prepared to adjust the Google Sheets CRM template to your needs.
Adjust Opportunity Stages
In the Opportunities sheet of the template, you’ll see all the information for each of your contacts. Here is where you’ll find the column Opportunity Stage.
In the template, there are seven different pre-made stages:
Of course, depending on how your sales process works, you may need to adjust these stages. For example, maybe you don’t normally do product demos, but you almost always set up a presentation for each new prospect. In that case, you’d want to delete Demo and replace it with Presentation.
To adjust the Opportunity Stages, click on the three lines to the left of the two visible sheets. This will open menu, where you can select the hidden Settings sheet.
Here, you can adjust both the Opportunity Stage and the Opportunity Status options to fit your process and sales style.
Add or adjust the fields
In the Opportunities sheet, there are 18 different columns where you can put information about the people in your sales pipeline, including:
- Company name: The name of the company that is your prospect or customer.
- Date created: When did you first contact this prospect?
- Assignee: Who is working on this deal, or who is the person taking care of this customer?
- Opportunity status: Open, won, or closed.
- Opportunity stage: Where is this contact in your pipeline?
- Opportunity last modified: This field automatically updates to the current date when you modify any information in this row.
- Value: How much mullah is this deal worth?
- Website: The website of your prospect.
- Address: Keep track of the mailing address of your prospect or customer here.
- Primary contact: Who are you talking with at this company?
- Email address: Keep a record of the primary email for your contact within the company.
- Phone number: The main phone number of your primary contact.
- LinkedIn profile: This could be for the company or the profile of your primary contact.
- Notes: Here is your space to make notes about conversations you have with this prospect. That way, you (and whoever you share your Google Sheet CRM with) will always have up-to-date information about your prospects.
Some of these fields may not apply to your specific business. For example, a realtor wouldn’t need to have a section dedicated to company names, but they would need one for individual people’s names. Or, maybe you like to be uber-efficient and include even more information about the businesses in your pipeline, such as their size, number of employees, or the names of important stakeholders.
Either way, remember that this Google Sheet CRM is yours to play with and truly make your own.
Get the Excel CRM template
Finding yourself a bit lost with Google Sheets, and wanting to return home to warm embrace of the Excel you know and love?
No problem! You can download our Excel CRM template here.
Now that this Google Sheets CRM has been fully customized to your needs, it’s time to start using it.
4. Input your current pipeline information
Transferring important data like this is never easy, and we want to make sure that you don’t miss a thing.
There are two ways to input your current pipeline data into your Google Sheets CRM:
If you don’t have too many contacts and you’ve done a reasonably good job of keeping track of them all, then the quickest way to put this information into your sheet will be manually.
If you’re looking at all the business cards on your desk or the email threads in your inbox and getting a bit overwhelmed, don’t panic! You don’t have to input all of this data at the same time.
Slow and steady wins the race here. Every day, set aside just 15 minutes to manually input the data into your customized CRM spreadsheet. Depending on how many contacts you have, the job could be done in a week or less.
Import from email
Another way to get your customer data into your Google Sheet CRM is to import it from your email.
This is a great option if you’ve been diligent about keeping your prospects’ information up-to-date in your email contacts.
If you use Gmail, it’s very easy to export your contacts from your Google account into a CSV. (Here’s a handy article from Google that takes you through the process: Export or back up contacts)
Once you have that CSV file, you can open it in Google Sheets. Then, just copy the information over into your CRM spreadsheet.
5. Set up sharing
Finally, it’s time to share your new Google Sheet CRM with anyone else who might need access to it.
First, decide who you’re going to share this with. You’ll want to make sure you include anyone who has direct interaction with customers and prospects, including your sales team and customer service team.
Bonus point: In Google Sheets, you can interact directly with other team members and see what they’re doing within the sheet in real-time.
Second, you’ll need to define what kind of access others have. When sharing your Google Sheets, you have three access options: view-only access, commenting rights, or full editing abilities.
In most cases, you’ll need to give your team full editing abilities to be able to fully use the CRM spreadsheet.
To make your sheet more secure, head to the advanced sharing settings and select the following two options:
- Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people
- Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers
That way, you ensure that the sheet is only seen by the people that you share it with.
Looking for some extra tips to increase your productivity when using Google Sheets as a CRM?
Tips to use your Google Sheets CRM effectively
Integrate with other tools using Zapier
Zapier is a fantastic productivity tool that connects over 1500 different apps and allows them to work together by creating automations, called Zaps.
For example, do you collect new leads from web forms on your website? Zapier allows you to connect your web form builder to Google Sheets and adds new rows when someone fills out the form.
Or, is your sales team keenly interested in new subscribers to your email list? You can add new subscriber information from Mailchimp or other email tools directly into your Google Sheet.
By connecting other tools for lead collecting, customer service, and sales, your data will always be up-to-date and you’ll have less manual data entry work to do.
Translate the dashboard data into actions
The Sales Dashboard of your Google Sheets CRM gives you a clear overview of your current sales pipeline, including deals that are won or lost, and the current stage of your open deals.
It’s a good idea to take time every week or month to look at this dashboard and turn those data points into clear actions. You could try to optimize for every metric you're tracking—but that's not how high-performance sales teams operate. Instead, what you want to do is to pinpoint the one part in your sales funnel where an improvement could have the biggest part on your bottom line, and then focus fanatically on optimizing that metric, before you move on to optimizing another part of your sales process.
For example, check out the closed opportunities box. What’s the ratio of unqualified leads to lost leads? If you have a large number of unqualified leads, you might need to improve your lead qualifying process.
Or, take a look at what stage your open opportunities are in. Is there a stage where many of your leads are getting stuck? For example, do you have a large number of prospects in the negotiation stage that just aren’t moving forward? In that case, you may want to adjust your stages to better adapt to your leads.
Another way to get actionable data from this Google Sheet CRM is by filtering the Opportunity Last Modified list. Under the tab Filter by Condition, you can select to see only results before or after a certain date.
That way, you can make sure that none of your prospects are getting lost in the cracks. You can also use this to take a quick look at the information on the deals that are currently moving forward and have been modified recently. Of course, all of this requires that every member of your sales team is consistent and disciplined in tracking data and interactions in the CRM.
While this might sound reasonable, it hardly ever works that way in the real world. This is especially true if your team is growing fast.
So here’s a pro tip: Put one person in charge of keeping the CRM spreadsheet up-to-date. That doesn't mean that this person has to update the spreadsheet for everyone—instead, they're in charge of reminding and supporting everyone involved in doing so. While not a fun job, it's still much better than losing deals because interaction details didn't get logged, or having to later embark on a mission to clean up a messy, incomplete, and outdated spreadsheet.
Take your Google Sheets CRM to the next level
We’ve taken you through exactly how to use Google Sheets as a CRM. Once you customize our CRM spreadsheet template to your specific needs, you’ll be able to quickly input data from your prospects and existing customers and get a better overview of your sales situation.
That said, a Google Sheet CRM is not a permanent solution to your needs. As your company grows, you’ll need to identify the right moment to switch from a CRM spreadsheet to a real CRM system, like Close.
How will you know when it’s time? Look for signs such as:
- Your team often loses important prospect information
- Different reps accidentally call the same prospect
- Your sales team is growing, and you have no clear view of what each individual is doing to contribute to your sales numbers
When your business is ready to upgrade from a Google Sheets CRM, Close will be here to help you bring your customer relationship management to the next level.
Ready to get started with your own Google Sheets CRM? Try the SalesTable template free right now!