What If We Stopped Learning Math After Addition?

moving beyond spreadsheets

The importance of moving beyond spreadsheets and email.

Every child first learns addition and subtraction, only then moving on to more advanced ideas like multiplication and division. With those fundamental concepts mastered, students can then tackle more advanced topics like algebra, calculus, and beyond.

But what if we stopped learning math after we were taught addition? What if we let simply let every elementary school child stay in their mathematical comfort zone? Would most people’s daily lives actually be all that different? People could still add things together — slower than multiplication, but it creates the same results — so the biggest problem would simply be how time consuming certain mundane tasks become. While not ideal, it’s probably fair to say that most people could probably get by only knowing the mathematical basics of addition and subtraction.

What’s less obvious, however, is just how much time would be wasted on those slow, trivial calculations. If we want to know how much it would cost to buy 15 cans of beans at $1.05 each, we can just multiply them. That’s a far, far more efficient option than adding them together one at a time. It’s obviously a better, more efficient, and streamlined solution. And yet, there are countless business processes and workflows that are as slow and counterproductive as relying on addition and subtraction for every operation.

Consider the Spreadsheet

When personal computers were introduced 30 years ago, the spreadsheet was considered the apex of business technology. It was as much of a practical leap forward as the electronic calculator was from a slide rule and paper. Even today, executives rely on Excel and other spreadsheets. It’s easy to see why: Excel is simple. You only need to click into a cell, and then enter your data. From there, it’s possible to run that data through every imaginable equation and situation, color coding rows and columns to keep things clear. But should we be moving beyond spreadsheets?

We can’t ignore that spreadsheets are primitive tools. While it’s entirely possible to create a semi-functional lead database or pipeline management system within Excel, that’s also an incredibly inefficient way to manage that data. It’s as inefficient as relying on addition and subtraction for every mathematical problem. Yes, it’s technically possible to make it work, but what a headache!

Spreadsheets just can’t compete with software designed for those specialized business tasks.

Email is another tool that has become a “center of gravity” in many companies. Yes, it’s possible to use an email program to store customer data, share contracts, and even track the progress of deals. It’s just a terribly inefficient way to do any of that. It’s the wrong tool for the modern workflow.

The fluidity of email use is a huge problem. A salesperson might have a wealth of prospect information in their Gmail account, but there is no way for the rest of the sales team to access or make use of it. All that information — which clearly belongs in a categorized, searchable, reportable, trackable, shareable, and summated system — is only accessible through a crude email search system.

Move Past the Inefficiencies

Using multiple platforms creates confusion among employees and slows down workflows.

These inefficiencies are hardly limited to multitasking. Consider a typical sales job at a small company without a CRM. Just to do their job, they may use:

  • Excel to track leads
  • Word to pull up the appropriate sales scripts
  • Google Calendar to schedule calls
  • Google Docs to update a shared opportunity status spreadsheet
  • Dropbox to access contracts
  • Skype for team meetings and some sales calls
  • Gmail to handle their email

These are seven completely different, largely disconnected applications, each with their own quirks, costs, and limitations. None of these tools are hard to use, but switching between them can create serious inefficiencies.

Remembering how to input data into a specific spreadsheet takes time, as does remembering to check a calendar, or hunting down the right sales form in a shared Dropbox folder. This eats away at time you could use to talk to prospects, making deals, and closing sales.

Get your time back by creating a new center of gravity: a customer relationship management (CRM) system that stores all necessary customer information, all in one place.

It’s the same principle of learning multiplication as a child. While you could technically use addition to put together your equation, but once you learn multiplication, even mundane tasks become exponentially easier. In the case of CRM software, this small investment in efficiency makes it much easier to improve everything from workflows to knowledge transfer.

It’s not enough for your CRM to be a part of your business, it needs to be the nucleus. It’s time to start moving beyond spreadsheets. Download our white paper to learn how to make it happen.

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