Why built-in business intelligence is superior to spreadsheet analysis

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Spreadsheets are excellent number-crunching tools that make it easy to analyze financial models. That’s why accountants and other finance professionals love them.

The datasets managed within a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, however, extend far beyond financial data. A CRM houses all of your contacts, relationship histories—complete records of every interaction your team has had with each person and every company in your network. And it’s the repository for vast amounts of data about your team, including outbound sales and marketing and mandate pipeline progress.

Pivot tables may be able to generate forecasting reports, but CRM platforms with built-in business intelligence, analytics, and reporting tools allow you to better contextualize your team’s relationship data. Let’s explore how intelligent CRM platforms are simplifying and improving reporting workflows by automatically capturing all of your relevant data, helping your team turn your data insights into action, and ensuring you make better-informed investment decisions. 


Automatic data capture and report updates decrease manual work

Entering, managing, and manipulating data in a spreadsheet is a cumbersome, manual process. Intelligent CRM platforms capture your team’s “data exhaust”—details pulled from email communications, meetings, and contact information such as names, roles, industry, and source of introduction—to automate contact and company data capture. Reporting dashboards then refresh automatically to match the most up-to-date datasets—no manual data entry or data manipulation is required.

These reports are then enriched by datasets provided by external data partners that include industry trend data about each person or organization your team is working with. Rather than spending time each week scanning industry news reports or LinkedIn profiles and gathering data on organizational changes or funding to inform your reports, intelligent CRM platforms automatically incorporate details like key leadership changes or quarter-over-quarter growth, helping you track signals that indicate a business may ready to partner with your team.

Consolidated deal and pipeline management turns reporting into optimization

Client and prospect data aren’t the only datasets that live in your CRM; a CRM platform also houses all of your team’s internal data—emails sent, meetings conducted, core KPIs, etc. Unlike spreadsheets into which dealmakers manual key contact and deal information, intelligent CRMs also store measurable data on pipeline and deal activity that can be visualized in reports created with the click of a button.

With all of your team’s deals managed and tracked in a single platform rather than disparate spreadsheets, you can generate a bird’s-eye-view of your entire mandate pipeline. From there, you can easily drill down into each team member’s contributions to the pipeline and deals being managed, and use these insights to have conversations around best practices and areas for improvement. By analyzing how and when your most successful deals are moving forward, you can also identify:

  • What types of outreach are leading to the best conversions
  • Where in your pipeline most deals are stalling
  • How long most deals take to close
  • What traits your most successful deals share

Aggregating this data from individual users’ spreadsheets is impossible as data remains siloed and, unlike centralized data management platforms, spreadsheets don’t communicate with one another.


Spreadsheets also run the risk of being outdated or having “bad data” that can misinform the end result analytics. Using a shared platform to manage your team’s deal data gives you clearer insights faster and helps them focus their sourcing efforts, optimize how they’re spending their time by choosing to pursue higher quality prospects, and ultimately, close more deals. 

Easily shared reports let you communicate with clients and prospects transparently

When a client asks for a progress update on buy or sell lists, or any traction you’ve gained with potential buyers or sellers, the last thing you want is to make them wait. Intelligent CRM platforms with built-in business intelligence allow you to easily put together client-specific reporting dashboards. These reports automatically draw from updates to the relevant deals in your CRM, so when a client asks for status reports, you can instantly share a visualization of your progress.

You can also utilize similar dashboards to share your business’s story with prospects. With comprehensive reporting tools, you can show up to your next client meeting with an easy-to-understand dashboard of your experience with similar companies and prove to your new prospect that they can trust your team to manage the purchase or sale of their business and meet, or exceed, their expectations 

Whereas spreadsheets are designed for financial calculations and numerical projections, an intelligent CRM is built for analyzing and showcasing every facet of your business. 

Choosing relationship intelligence and real-time analytics over static data

The familiar, spreadsheet-like interface of this new generation of intelligent CRM makes data more accessible so anyone familiar with Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets can build in-depth reports. And, unlike spreadsheet analytics, your team is not dependent on an analyst to prepare and review reports. 

Business and relationship intelligence—insights into your team’s business network and client relationships that help you find, manage, and close mandates—are foundational to intelligent CRM platforms.

With more accessible and more accurate data always on hand, your team can make more data-driven investment decisions and close more deals faster. Talk to our sales team to learn how a purpose-built investment banking platform like Affinity can help your team win more mandates today.


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