Sales for Startups: Don't Waste your Time on CRM... Yet!


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Don't overload your early stage sales efforts with too much process too early. Try using simple spreadsheets to bootstrap your CRM.

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Sales for Startups: Don't Waste your Time on CRM... Yet!

  1. 1. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105  Sales for Startups: Don’t Waste your Time on CRM… Yet.It’s probably obvious that too little structure can kill the effectiveness of your earlystage selling efforts. But in my experience, too much structure too early can bejust as deadly, and one of the biggest culprits is CRM. I’ve seen startup foundersjump head first into a complex CRM system like before they’veeven made their first sales call. The truth is that if your startup is just starting tosell, you probably don’t need a CRM yet.The main issue with adopting a CRM before you’ve fleshed out your initial salesprocess through trial and error is that it causes you to guess about a lot of thingsthat won’t become clear until you’ve gotten a handle on the basics of your salesmodel. Sure, you could just make a best guess about some of the specifics likethe exact phases stages of your sales process and the critical bits of informationthat you should be capturing. But, guessing wrong can introduce a bunch ofduplicate work down the line when you have a better perspective on exactly howyou’ll be selling and to whom.Don’t get me wrong. In order to build a successful revenue engine you’ll need tointroduce a strong, somewhat rigid set of sales processes within your companyand this will most definitely include a CRM system of some sort. But, starting todefine these processes too early in the lifecycle of your sales effort can introducelots of overhead that takes away from your primary goal; to discover therepeatable sales model that will allow you to scale up your efforts.So, how should you track your startup sales efforts?Spreadsheets are the ultimate early stage CRM system. They don’t require anyspecial knowledge or skills, are easy to maintain, endlessly customizable andeasy to share. Plus, just about every web based CRM system has a CSV uploadoption which makes it easy to get your data imported to it’s new home once youare ready to make the next step.
  2. 2. 398 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94105  The beauty of spreadsheets is that you can simply add a new column as you findnew bits of data that you want to track. But, be wary of “input creep”. I wouldn’twaste time inputting anything into your CRM spreadsheet that is already storedelsewhere. For example, your contact’s email address and cell phone numberare likely easily accessible in your inbox.Once you a have good understanding of the types of information that will beimportant to your sales process you can make the jump to a full-blown CRMsystem armed with the knowledge of the best structure for your needs.###