6 min read
Dec 20, 2019

Modernize Your Sales Pipeline with These 5 Excel Alternatives

Save time and optimize how your sales pipeline is managed by switching from excel to a dedicated CRM.

Chris WarnockSpecialist Analyst

Dedicated CRM software allows businesses to optimize their sales process and connect with customers at the right moments. Compared with Excel, CRM software saves time on manual data entry, tracking, and reporting. Here are the key features that make cloud-based CRM software better than Excel for managing sales pipelines:

  • Workflow automation: Automation delegates tedious and repetitive tasks to software—freeing up salespeople to focus on client relationships and closing deals. CRM software features include automatically sending follow-ups or triggers based on a customer's place in the sales pipeline, as well as importing data to create contact listings.

  • Pipeline management: Pipeline management allows sales teams to oversee and direct sales in their various stages. CRM software features include tracking customer interactions from first contact to closed sale, forming a detailed overview of where customers are in the sales process.

  • Email integration: Email integration allows sales teams to communicate more effectively, with features like email tracking and follow-up reminders to ensure leads are nurtured at the most appropriate stage in the sales cycle.

  • Reporting and analytics: Reporting functionally allows sales teams to share performance updates about sales goals and team progress, as well as make strategic decisions informed by data. CRM software features include analyzing data and generating reports (e.g. interactive dashboards).

Below we list the top five applications selected for GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in CRM—an annual ranking of software products—that function as powerful alternatives to excel for sales pipeline management.

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What is GetApp's Category Leaders?

Category Leaders is an annual ranking of software products that uses five criteria—reviews, integrations, mobile, functionality, and security—worth 20 points each (100 total) to score applications. Category Leaders scores and rankings are provided for every product in this report. For more information on how scores are calculated, view the full methodology here.

Average scores of 48 products that met the inclusion criteria for GetApp's 2019 Category leaders in CRM.

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Salesforce Sales Cloud

Salesforce Sales Cloud offers all the features necessary to transition a sales pipeline away from Excel. This application is one of the most widely used CRM on the market, and with over 13k reviews it has the highest reviews count of any product on this list. Salesforce Sales Cloud does not offer a free plan, so software buyers that aren't yet ready for a paid excel alternative should look elsewhere.

Although Salesforce is known for its CRM, the company provides a broad suite of products, making it worthwhile consideration for businesses that anticipate needing additional software in the future (e.g. marketing, commerce, customer service).

Salesforce Sales Cloud was the highest scoring product in GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in CRM. This product ranked in first place for reviews, has native apps for both iOS and Android, and was one of the strongest CRM in terms of functionality and features. Additionally, Salesforce Sales Cloud scored above average for integrations, but its security score of 5/20 lagged the category slightly.

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Zoho CRM

Zoho also offers a wide array of products beyond its CRM (e.g. help desklive chataccounting), making it a good choice for businesses that will need additional software as they grow. Zoho CRM does offer a free plan which can be used for a maximum of 3 users, 1GB of storage and 5,000 contacts.

Zoho CRM scored three points above-average with 18/20 for functionality and features. This application also received an above average score for integrations, suggesting wide compatibility with other applications. Zoho CRM has native mobile apps for iOS and Android, and received a security score of 12/20 that outperformed the overall category.

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HubSpot CRM

Hubspot offers CRMmarketing, and customer service software. Though its product offerings are less expansive than the previous two vendors on this list, HubSpot specializes in customer management solutions. There is a free plan for HubSpot CRM that includes unlimited users, five documents per user, and 1,000,000 contacts.

HubSpot CRM performed well for functionality, scoring above the category average with an 18/20. This CRM includes native apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. HubSpot has a high volume of reviews (2.4k) that are predominately positive (92%) however, its security score of 2/20 lagged behind the category average of 6/20.

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Freshsales comes from parent company Freshworks, which offers a number of products spanning, help desklive chat, and more. Freshsales does offer a free plan called “Sprout." You'll need to make sure you select Sprout in the “plans and billing" section of your admin settings to avoid getting billed after signing up for a free trial.

Freshsales received a strong security score of 10/20, well above the category average. This software includes native iOS and Android applications, scored above average for reviews, and matched the category average for both integrations and functionality.

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Bitrix24 does not offer standalone software other than its CRM. However, it includes functionality for HR, marketing, customer service and more within its core CRM product. Bitrix24 does offer a free plan that can be used with a maximum of 12 users, includes 5GB of cloud storage, and supports unlimited contacts.

This application outperformed the category average for both security and mobile—with native apps available for both iOS and Android. Bitrix24 trailed the category slightly on reviews, integrations, and functionality.

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GetApp has additional resources on CRM, free software, and sales pipeline stages worth checking out:


Each year, we rank the leading business apps inside our most popular categories to form a list of Category Leaders. App scores are determined by 5 factors, worth 20 points each, for a possible total of 100. This lists contains the top five products from GetApp's 2019 Category Leaders in CRM.

See the full scoring methodology and product inclusion criteria here.

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