Although most people associate Microsoft Excel with accounts and financial planning, it is far more versatile than that, and it is ideal for keeping track of financial affairs. Sales is about money, and Excel is excel-lent (excuse the pun) for keeping track of money. Now even though you may know that, I would like to explain just how it can be useful in the 'sales' industry.
Now when it comes to sales, knowledge is key.
· Where are the sales coming from?
· What are our targets?
· What have we already achieved?
· What do we still need to do?
· Are we on target?
All of these are questions that get asked, and if you're in sales, these are the questions you need to have answers for.
All too often you have good sales people who don't have a solid sales plan, or having a solid plan but not knowing all of the facts. Your sales will only hit their true potential if you (1) know all of the facts, (2) have a solid sales plan and (3) have talented sales staff.
Excel will allow you to achieve the first of those requirements, which will help with the second and encourage the third. Let me explain.
One of the strengths of Excel is to manipulate data into an understandable format. This means that it takes confusing data and lays it out in such a way that it makes sense and is useful. If you have a whole long list of sales that have come in, you may not be able to see vital information from that data. Look at the questions that I asked above, none of those questions are answered by a list of sales. Now Excel can take that list of your sales, and answer all of those questions, and all you have to do is 'feed' Excel the list.
No need to have someone looking over the list with a calculator, trying to establish what is required. Excel will take the list and pull out all of the information that you require to make the correct decisions. You will know all of the facts, you will be able to see what has happened, how it happened and even what is likely to happen. All vital to a sales team.
Excel will also be able to break down other information, like which marketing campaigns have worked. When entering your sales data, if you include details like how the work came in, Excel can give you reports on this too. This means that you could see which marketing ideas have been successful and which haven't. This will help you to achieve the second goal of coming up with a solid sales plan. The key to sales is being organised, you may not think so when you meet some salespeople, but behind them is usually an organised sales manager with a solid plan. Seeing as you need information to generate a plan, Excel is perfect as it gets you all the required information.
Now Excel can help with the third category too, but unfortunately most sales people won't use it. I worked as a sales rep for a few years, and I used Excel all of the time. I used it to assess data, as well as storing client data, and even planning my visitations! I found that if all of the data and information were stored in Excel, it meant that I didn't have to remember it all, it also meant that I could use that data to create reports that helped me to do my job better. Even if the salesperson doesn't use it, Excel was still vital in getting them all of the statistics and information in the first place, by taking care of the first two categories.
We all love to see graphs that go up; we all love to see positive forecasts and we all need targets. Excel is the key to taking your raw data, producing the vital information that you require, and presenting it in an easy-to-understand format. Unfortunately, when you open up a new blank Excel spreadsheet, it is of no use until someone creates the correct spreadsheet for you and your company. If you can't do it in-house, there are companies that will liaise with you and create something specifically for you. I for one love doing this, which is why I started Spreadsheet Solutions, so that I could help others experience the advantages of using Excel and so that sales people can focus on their customers.
Richard Sumner is the Managing Director of Spreadsheet Solutions
075 042 70579