How to use Airtable as a CRM (free template)

Thierry Maout • Updated on July 25, 2023 • 14 min read

In this article, we list and provide step-by-step instructions on the three ways you can use Airtable as a CRM:

One of the best things about Airtable is its flexibility.

Connect your Airtable database to Softr and turn your CRM into a flexible no-code web app in minutes.

How to use Airtable as a CRM, using a template

The easiest, most straightforward way to use Airtable as a CRM is to leverage the wide choice of pre-made templates available online. Follow the steps to learn how:

Sign in to Airtable

Head to Airtable and log in to your account or create a new one.

Click on “Create a base” 

Let’s get started with a clean, new base to work with.

Select the Sales Sales template

In the side panel, select “Sales CRM” as a template to start with. If it doesn’t appear, click on “see all templates” to find the template. 

Alternatively, and if you want to browse a little bit before committing, you can start the entire process from the template page.

Done, you’ve got your Airtable template!

Using the template, you got your work cut out for you. You now have a fully-fledged CRM you can use to track all incoming opportunities in your sales pipeline, record interactions, register current accounts and keep an eye on all contacts.

The CRM you just created on Airtable using a pre-made template is incredibly powerful and very practical, but there are a few issues with it: 

  • Learning curve: Because it was right out of the box, you now have to master it, which might take time.
  • Custom capabilities: While Airtable’s CRM template does a lot of things right, it’s, of course, very generic. It might not be the perfect tool for your specific use case.
  • Views and reports: As it stands, your CRM might be a bit overwhelming. It’s basically a big database/spreadsheet, which you might have a hard time getting your head around with any easy-to-digest reports.

To tackle these issues, let’s look at the second way to use Airtable as a CRM: starting from scratch.

How to use Airtable as a CRM, starting from scratch

Every organization will have unique requirements and processes to shape their perfect CRM. For that reason, it’s impossible to give you a universal, one-size-fits-all detailed tutorial, but you can follow the following steps to add any requirements and processes you might need.

Sign in to Airtable

Head to Airtable and log in to your account or create a new one.

Click on “Create a base” 

Let’s get started with a clean, new base to work with.

Create tables for each area of your CRM

Now, let’s create a table for each area of your CRM. For the sake of this specific tutorial, we’re creating three tables:

  • Contacts: individuals that you and your team are trying to sell to;
  • Opportunities: deals that are in progress;
  • Customers: confirmed, paying customers.

Depending on your methodology and the way your sales processes are set up, you might do things differently at your organization. Some companies talk about opportunities, contacts, accounts, deals, prospects, etc. Here, we’re keeping it simple so you can have a base to work with.

Let’s work on each table one by one.

Build your “Contacts” table

Let’s start by creating a table to keep our contacts in one place. We will use the first table of our base.

Rename your first table “Contacts”

Click on the arrow on the right of “Table 1”, select “Rename Table,” and rename it “Contacts.”

Create fields for your contacts

In your new table, create the necessary fields to store all the information for your contacts. In our example, we created the following fields:

  • Name: the first and last name of the contact;
  • Email: the email address you can use to contact them;
  • Status: a single-select dropdown choice to indicate where the contact relationship with the organization (lead, customer, partner, etc.);
  • Assignee: the person in charge of that contact internally;
  • Company name, which is an important one if you’re doing B2B;
  • Opportunity: Ideally, each qualified contact should be linked to one (or several) opportunity. Using the field type “Link to another record,” you’ll be able to link this field to another field in your “Opportunities” table that we’re going to create right after.

Personalize your fields based on your specific requirements

The sky is, of course, the limit in terms of what you can do here. 

Do you want to go for a granular CRM with granular details for the whole team to see, or would you prefer to keep it general and let everyone in your team manage their portfolio however they see fit? It’s up to you, but some other fields you could consider adding include: 

  • Last point of contact: A “date” field showing the last time anyone from your team has been in touch with that contact. You could even set a notification once that field exceeds a certain timeline.
  • Link to call recordings: A “URL” field directing to the recording of the past phone calls recorded with that contact.

Build your “Opportunities” table

Now, we can create a table to store all our opportunities, i.e., deals that are in progress. 

Click on “Add Table” and “Create a new blank table”

You can name it “Opportunities” and hit “save.”

Create fields for your opportunities

As we did previously for contacts, we’re now going to create fields for your opportunities. For our example, we created the following fields:

  • Name: the name of the opportunity or company you’re trying to sell to;
  • Contacts: contact from the first table associated with that opportunity (be it the point of contact at the company, the partner that brought in the opportunity, etc.);
  • Potential value: the amount of money the deal is potentially for;
  • Assignee: the person in charge of the opportunity within your organization;
  • Status: at which point is the opportunity standing (in negotiation, proposal sent, lost, won, etc.);
  • Priority: the importance of the deal;
  • Deadline: a deadline associated with the opportunity;
  • Notes: a field for extra comments from the team.

Personalize your fields based on your specific requirements

Again, you have the opportunity to fully customize which fields you want to include in your opportunities, depending on how granular or general you want to get. For opportunities, fields you could add to this table include:

  • Next step: A “text” or “single select” field stating what the next action related to that contact should be. This can be paired with a “date” field indicating a deadline, and even a “user” field to tag the relevant person in your team;
  • Win/Loss reason: A “dropdown” field to provide insights in case of a “lost” opportunity (i.e. an opportunity your team was not able to convert into a paying customer). Options could be anything from “wrong timing” to “budget” or “No use case”;
  • Attachments: An “attachment” field where you can store any document that was exchanged between the opportunity and your team (contract, formal offer, RFP, etc.).

Build your “Customers” table

Finally, let’s create a table for customers. This is for the opportunities that you and your team have successfully into paying clients.

Click on “Add Table” and “Create a new blank table”

You can name it “Customers” and hit “save.”

Create fields for your customers

As we did previously for contacts and opportunities, we can now create fields for customers. For our example, we created the following fields:

  • Name: name of the customer;
  • Contacts: this can be pulled from your “Contact” table using the “Linked Records” field;
  • Opportunity name: this can also be created as a linked record;
  • Value: the value of the final deal;
  • Contract start date;
  • Contract end date;
  • Assignee: the person in charge internally for this customer;
  • Notes: comments from the team.

Personalize your fields based on your specific requirements

Again, you’re able to personalize this table depending on how much information you want. Some ideas of fields you could include are:

  • Conversation history: A “URL” field leading to all chat, email and phone conversation history with that customers, to provide context in case of a request 
  • Churn risk: A “dropdown” field indicating the risk of churn for that customer if you have repeat business like a subscription. Customer support representatives could change that field with every interaction based on their perceived risk that customers might churn.
  • Time until renewal: A “date” or “number” field serving as a countdown until the contract of that customer runs out. This can be useful for their account manager to start discussing renewing or renegotiating their contract ahead of time.

Onboard your team, and start using your new CRM

You now have a very basic but functional CRM built on Airtable. While rudimentary, it’s a perfect canvas for you to start experimenting. Feel free to add, remove, edit, and move things around with your team to make it your own.

How to use Airtable as a CRM, combined with Softr

With Softr, you can bypass all the previous steps to build a complete CRM on Airtable in minutes, and supercharge it with options such as:

  • A beautiful and organized front-end
  • Custom user permissions to control who can access what data
  • Mobile access as a Progressive Web App (PWA)
  • Secure payment management

To learn how, follow these steps.

Login to Softr

Head to Softr and log in to your account using your credentials or with Google, or create a free account.

Create a new application based on the CRM template

Let’s create a new app using Softr’s premade CRM template.

Click on “Use Template”

Let’s go ahead with the template to supercharge our CRM.

Select Airtable as your data source 

Choose Airtable then and press “continue”

Connect Softr to Airtable 

You can now connect Softr to Airtable using either your API key or personal access token. The steps are simple and explained on screen. Once you have added your authentication method, the setup will continue automatically.

Copy the Softr template base on Airtable

Softr provides you with a template Airtable base you can use as a starting point. Click “Copy base to your Airtable account” to create it.

Add the base to your workspace

You have the opportunity to pick which workspace you want the base to be created in. When you’ve selected, click on “Add base”.

Your Airtable CRM is ready!

By using this technique, Softr creates a complete Airtable CRM for you, ready for use. It already features several tables, linked records, and more, simplifying the entire process by giving you a great place to start in minutes (literally).

Time to create your app on Softr

Back to Softr, you can now create an application on top of the Airtable Sales CRM you just created. Click on “Create application”.

Build a frontend interface for your Airtable CRM

Now, you are able to build a complete frontend interface based on the Airtable CRM we’ve just created. The application already features various pages and functions, it’s now up to you to decide what you want to create, share, and make available for your team. Some options available to you include:

  • Building dashboards for your data 
  • Simplifying data entry for your team with forms and buttons
  • Turning your CRM into a Progressive Web App (PWA)
  • Implementing payment management options
  • Setting permissions for who can access what data

Sky's the limit. Happy building!

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