Updated on May 31, 2021
Salesforce integration helps companies to unify and manage the important business processes within one platform. Due to it you can seamlessly integrate and run sales, marketing, finance, accounting, project management, and human resources activities and connect different departments under one hood. In this post, we will go over Salesforce integration essentials and help you select the best integration approach for your project.
An almost infinite number of integration tools offerings turn Salesforce potential into a limitless experience for any business vector and technical skills level.
However, these tools are not equal both from the technical and user sides. They can differ by programming languages, how they store data as well as types of users they are aimed at: general or technical ones.
Some integration tools are quite simple to set up and use. They belong to standard Salesforce integration and most often have pre-set templates to simplify the process. Others can be more complex and require some degree of technical knowledge.
Broadly speaking, with the Salesforce platform you may glue together disparate systems like external ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), accounting, marketing automation, social media, computer telephony, email and personal planning, IT service management tools to create a more engaged customer and employee experience.
Let’s cover step-by-step: what is Salesforce integration, how to integrate your systems and top it with our bonus — 10 essential integration tools for any business.
What is Integration in Salesforce?
Salesforce integration is, in its essence, interconnection of the systems and data in your Salesforce org. And to make your platform work as a single mechanism when synchronizing the systems, you will definitely require a Salesforce integration solution. It is a part of software that sets and manages connection between Salesforce CRM and other systems via APIs that serves for messages exchange and interpretation of these systems. They may vary depending on the number of systems to integrate, their specifics, type of system integration you choose etc. that we will discuss below.
Step-by-Step Guide on Salesforce Integration
Let’s assume, you decided to orchestrate your integration project on your own and you need to put together a plan. So, where should you start? It goes without saying, that your Salesforce integration should align with your business goals, alleviate pain points, and bring more value than a headache.
Moreover, it should be flexible, scalable, and user-friendly so that solution integration and maintenance won’t appear to be more complex than Salesforce implementation itself. But what else should you consider before starting the project?
In brief, after you’ve set all the requirements and expectations, you need to decide what type of integration you can afford in terms of skills, resources, and budget. Because if your team doesn’t have enough experience and expertise to set up solutions that require deeper technical knowledge, you may end up with higher costs and project completion timeline.
When you’ve chosen your integration type, you need to know your API limits which shouldn’t exceed 15000 API calls/day, and then identify and prepare data that will be moved between systems.
At the same time, you have to understand your selected integration solution, how it works, and how it can be configured.
After that, you need to think about the integration patterns you are going to deploy as well as the post-integration support of the solution: who will be responsible for the maintenance, update, troubleshooting, and additional configurations.
Now, let’s cover the basic considerations of Salesforce integration.
1. Decide on Salesforce Integration Types
App-Based Integration — an excellent option for projects that require minimum involvement in installation, setting up, configuration, and maintenance.
In this type of integration, the most time-consuming and crucial part is, actually, preparation.
You need to conduct serious research on app compatibility, system requirements for integration, API limits, ensure that this software won’t disrupt your system architecture and won’t conflict with other integrated apps, plug-ins, and systems.
Code-Based Integration — this approach fits for more advanced projects that require tailor-made integrations to guarantee a complete alignment with system requirements and different versions of API. Such option usually takes longer to complete and may require external help.
Also, a major drawback of this integration type is that it requires expert involvement in solution support and maintenance with each Salesforce release.
User Interface Integration — this integration type enables users to enter multiple apps from a single platform and make them work as one single system.
Press Button Integration — during this integration, data is transferred from one system to another system at a point in the work process when the other system is activated – either by clicking on a button or by selecting from a menu.
Business Processes Integration —this option may involve Apex web services to handle business logic across multiple applications and accomplish the end-to-end business process.
Data Integration — it enables data synchronization via SOAP and REST APIs and allows a single app in an org to act as a major source of the specific business object. This type of integration may not require coding, but it cannot implement any custom logic.
Security Integration — this type helps to unify all the authentication mechanisms to improve user experience and reduce administration.
2. Choose a Salesforce Integration Solution
Besides the above-mentioned types, you can integrate systems and apps based on various integration solutions like Salesforce Connect (Lightning Connect), Salesforce App Cloud (Force.com), Ready-to-use integration apps on AppExchange.
Salesforce Connect — it is a perfect a framework to integrate several Salesforce solutions, like ERP, CRM, or marketing automation software via real-time or on-demand connection to outside data sources. This option allows to operate large amount of data without duplicating it to Salesforce and its codeless point-and-click interface enables easy configuration.
However, this integration approach focuses only on Salesforce side of the integration and requires points for Open Data Protocol for system integration. If chosen systems don’t support Open Data Protocol, you have to build a custom adapter with the Apex Connector Framework.
Salesforce App Cloud — this platform for custom app development enables building integration apps and link external data sources with them. App development process doesn’t require solid IT skills and involves using of Force.com APIs and tools like Force.com Canvas and Heroku as well as drag-and-drop components in Process Builder so it can be performed by an in-house IT department.
These apps can be automatically and safely tested and upgraded without complex customization. But, if you choose to build your solution on App Cloud, it needs to be powered by apps provided by AppExchange partners that can lead to higher costs and more complicated process of integration solution architecture.
AppExchange Apps — it is Salesforce marketplace for apps and software solutions of platform partners. There you may find multiple tools that can be free or paid, ready for installation or require extra configuration, that can be customized with App Cloud developer tools or serve as a basis for a more complex solution. Each app on AppExchange complies with a security standards, so you may not worry about your company’s data protection.
It should be noted, that AppExchange apps are created for particular integrations. That’s why, if you have a more complex integration scenario, you should sort out apps for every integration.
3. Know Your Limits
Before launching an integration project you need to evaluate carefully your current system limits, weak points, and areas for improvement. To do it, you may engage with a Salesforce consulting partner that will perform your Org health check and determine how ready it is for any type of integration.
Then you need to assess your app limits, requirements, compatibility with various Salesforce editions, and scalability.
4. Prepare and Manage Your Data
To ensure that your integrated tool will display accurate and up-to-date information, you need to keep your data clean, deduplicated, and constantly updated in your Salesforce CRM. Define who and how often will error-prove your system data.
5. Select an Integration Pattern
Determine the best technical integration approach between the two most common scenarios: direct integration or server-based integration.
Direct integration is either a direct API or database integration between Salesforce and another system. Even though it may seem limited in flexibility, this approach will satisfy the need for two-way data exchange between systems for smaller projects.
Server-based integration is a more flexible solution that minimizes the engagement of IT services resources, reduces the effects of systems’ updates on the integration, and gives you more control over data flows.
This approach involves solutions delivered according to a hub-and-spoke and an enterprise service bus (ESB) models and hosted in the cloud and on-premises systems. Server-based integration fits for small integration projects as well as larger ones that include dozens of systems with a considerable amount of data flows.
Moreover, you need to decide on the method you will integrate your solution by: will it be one tool at a time, bulk integration by segments like an integration of only sales-oriented software, marketing-oriented software, by use priority, or integration difficulty.
6. Consider Solution Support and Maintenance
Regardless of whether you use app-based integration or code-based one, you need to adjust your software to your growing Salesforce platform needs, to upgrade it, and debug if necessary. Think about the person from your team who will keep an eye on it or seek external support from Salesforce administrators to do it for you.
Our Bonus: Top 10 Indispensable Apps for Salesforce Integration
1. Salesforce Gmail Integration
It is the all-time favorite integration for reps who want to leverage Salesforce and email service without toggling back and forth between your email and CRM.
Being one of the most popular email integration products together with Outlook (which integration, by the way, entered a maintenance-only phase and will be available only for existing Salesforce users till June, 2023 and then will retire) it allows sending and receiving emails from any device at any time.
Due to Salesforce syncing with Gmail, emails can be composed in Salesforce, be sent via a connected Gmail account, and appear in the Gmail Sent Folder. Moreover, you will be able to access Activity History on leads and contacts, see emails that are logged to the records the email was sent from, and can automatically log your events into the calendar.
To enable Gmail integration you need to find a Salesforce side panel next to an open email or event in your email, open it, and click the Salesforce icon next to your email inbox or calendar.
Now you can access Salesforce data like accounts or contacts that match an address in the email, however, to view more details like, for example, the activity timeline you need to select a matching record.
After you log your email to Salesforce, you will be able to edit or create new Salesforce records directly in the pane. And to keep your system updated, relate the email to a matching record.
Watch more comprehensive instructions in the video below:
2. Mailchimp Salesforce Integration
Over 15 million people globally use MailChimp to design, send and track email marketing campaigns. MailChimp Salesforce integration allows you to view and manage campaigns and subscriber lists in the Salesforce platform, import contacts from Salesforce to MailChimp, create custom queries, and more. Watch a video tutorial on how to connect them below. ?
Please note that MailChimp is available for a Professional, Enterprise, Unlimited, Developer, or Performance edition of Salesforce.
3. Ascendix Search Integration
Ascendix Search is a top choice for people who value their efficiency and time. This tool was developed by Ascendix to power up the search experience of Salesforce users by refining general search functionality with more advanced features like multi-criteria, multi-object searches, map search, search via charts, additional search operators, relative date operators, NOT IN, OR conditions for related objects and more!
Get a view of Ascendix Search’s capabilities in the video below.
To start enjoying Ascendix Search benefits, you can get this app on AppExchange if your Salesforce instance supports Professional, Enterprise, Unlimited, Force.com, Performance editions.
It should be noted that Ascendix Search can be enhanced with additional functionality like point-and-click report, brochure, and booklet generation tool. If you need to know more about integration requirements or app features, contact our team.
4. Jira Salesforce Integration
Jira is one of the top project management and issue-tracking tools for IT service managers and software developers. With the help of this platform, your team can monitor the progress of a project and have cases to troubleshoot at their fingertips.
Just look at the demo highlights.
To enable Jira integration with Salesforce you can choose over several options: via Atlassian’s marketplace and its verified vendor ServiceRocket, third-party integrators like Zapier, or other integration services on AppExchange like zAgile, Go2Group, or Workato.
It is worth mentioning, that ServiceRocket provides three types of Jira integrations: Jira Server, Jira Cloud, and Jira Service Desk for tracking issue tickets. On the app pages, you will find Installation, User, and Administration Guides and answers to FAQ.
5. Salesforce QuickBooks Integration
QuickBooks is among the leading accounting platforms for tracking company revenue and expenses, prepping your business for tax season, and much more.
Salesforce QuickBooks Integration can empower you with getting full visibility into your business processes and areas for improvement, enhanced data sharing like sales orders, expenses, and invoicing between sales and accounting, reduced duplicate data entry, increased productivity, and more comprehensive insights for better forecasting.
Learn how to connect QuickBooks to Salesforce in the video below:
6. Salesforce Slack Integration
Salesforce’s newly acquired collaboration solution Slack allows you to connect with the people and tools you work on a daily basis, to communicate in real-time between Slack and Salesforce Chatter, increase team productivity and collaboration, and to improve searches across platforms.
On top of it, Salesforce Slack integration enables your team to share messages both ways between Salesforce Chatter and your Slack channel, search your Salesforce solution from Slack and share results there.
Check how to synchronize Salesforce with Slack ?
You can integrate the Slack app either by downloading it from the Slack App Directory or get it straight from the AppExchange listing. For more details on Salesforce integration, review instructions for configuring the Slack plug-in and Salesforce for Slack help article.
7. Pendo Salesforce Integration
Pendo is an app for product analytics built to help software companies develop solutions that will win customer loyalty, stimulate team innovation, and ensure user adoption.
Its tool suite offers insights into product performance and users’ behavior on the platform, sentiment analysis of users via embedded survey questions and polls, software guidance via user-friendly walkthroughs to ensure adoption, feedback collection for two-way communication.
Here is the video walkthrough on how to integrate Pendo with Salesforce
You can connect Pendo with Salesforce via a point-and-click integration and start leveraging unified data for creating workflows, generating tasks, sending notifications, and reporting. More details on Pendo Salesforce integration you may find in this overview.
Moreover, you can capture and understand product feedback from Contacts & Opportunities within your CRM by synchronizing it with Pendo Feedback app for Salesforce.
8. Salesforce LinkedIn Integration
By integrating LinkedIn with Salesforce, you can take advantage of both LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Salesforce CRM for tracking and managing sales activities.
This integration allows creating a seamless sales experience by targeting buyers and companies that are right for your products and services, getting a better insight of your buyer’s value due to the information in their social profile, and apply a more personalized approach accordingly.
Here are some ideas on how to connect Salesforce with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Your sales reps can automatically import from Sales Navigator any accounts, contacts, and lead records, log InMail Messages and notes in Salesforce as well as have better visibility of your Leads and Contacts due to CRM widget with LinkedIn profile info.
Learn how to set up this feature below.
To synchronize LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator with your Salesforce CRM, you can get an app directly from AppExchange for Professional, Enterprise, Unlimited, Developer, or Performance editions.
9. Salesforce Tableau Integration
Since then, this platform helps to understand your Salesforce data better and offers a world-class analytics solution due to its interactivity, dynamics, and data visualization. If you are looking for a solution like this, then you may find Tableau Basics module on Trailhead quite useful to understand this product better.
Watch how to apply Tableau connector to Salesforce
Tableau is a multifaceted business intelligence platform that is comprised of products like Tableau Prep, Tableau Server. Tableau CRM, product versions like Tableau Desktop, Mobile, and Online, and solutions like Tableau Viz Lightning Web Component for Salesforce. However, the company website offers native Salesforce connector support to only two products: Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep.
10. DocuSign Salesforce Integration
About 200 million users are already a part of the DocuSign community. This solution enhances standard Salesforce functionality by digitizing and streamlining agreements, and simplifying approval workflows due to the introduction of electronic signatures.
It allows you to send, sign, and track Salesforce agreements and approvals from points on the map where you have access to the Internet and on any device.
What’s more, all your Salesforce documents will align with rigorous security certifications and standards to ensure your documents are safe and scalable.
DocuSign Salesforce integration will help your company to shorten sales cycles, increase close rates, and reduce paper waste.
Review this functionality in the video overview
To launch the integration, you can get DocuSign plug-in on AppExchange. To get a complete understanding of the installation and configuration processes, you can go over the DocuSign Guide or the solution capabilities overview on their website.
Certainly, this shortlist can vary from business to business, and you may compose your personal favorites list out of 3, 000+ Salesforce apps and 180+ integration tools on AppExchange and 2, 000 integrations on Zapier or Workato.
But to identify your best fits, you have to develop the right Salesforce integration strategy and know exactly what kind of integration tool you need to stretch out your Salesforce capabilities in the right direction.
Salesforce integration solutions provide you with an extensive org capacity and turn the platform use into an uninterrupted and complete experience. Good news, that the most popular tools are already ready to set up and go without additional coding.
Bad news, that if you want to have an above-the-average solution that will combine flexibility, scalability, user-friendliness, and custom functionality, you still need assistance from technical teams.
If you want to make sure that you are on the right track with your integration project, our expert team of Salesforce consultants will be happy to assist you with all Salesforce integration services like:
- Integration of multiple distributed systems
- Integration with complex custom solutions
- Consolidation of several CRM systems under Salesforce solution
- Planning and strategizing of complex integration scenarios
- Data integration and synchronization among the systems
Reach out to our Salesforce support team and tell us about your integration challenges.