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Complete Salesforce Integration Guide

July 17, 2023 eye-glyph 78

Table of Contents

    Are you not using Salesforce to manage customer relationships and boost sales performance? If yes, then you’re not alone. Salesforce is the leading CRM industry worldwide, with a 23.8% market share and thousands of happy customers.

    But did you know you can make Salesforce even more powerful and versatile by integrating it with other applications?

    Integrating Salesforce with third-party applications has become a buzzword across industries, as many organizations rely on these applications to access additional functionalities and features.

    Salesforce AppExchange, the marketplace for third-party apps, offers various integrations, including popular applications like QuickBooks, Google Cloud, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Dropbox, WhatsApp, and many more.

    This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of Salesforce third-party integration, exploring the challenges, benefits, tools, and other essential aspects.

    You’re in good hands if you’re new to Salesforce integration or want to expand your knowledge.

    Let’s begin by understanding why integrating other apps with Salesforce is crucial and how to approach the integration process to maximize the benefits of each application.

    What is Salesforce Integration?

    what is salesforce integration

    Salesforce Integration is the process of integrating data of Salesforce with third-party applications such as payment gateways, ERP systems, etc. It allows users to have a unified experience, increase productivity and deliver better client engagement.

    Businesses can experience smooth data flow, unifying the operations of different departments and gain a holistic view of all the ongoing operations. This integration eliminates the risk of penetrating while transferring data across other platforms, allowing users to work uninterruptedly on a centralized Salesforce platform.

    With proper integration, organizations can make data-driven decisions, minimize risks, and optimize strategies to serve customers more effectively.

    If you are unaware of the history of Salesforce, read now.

    Types of Salesforce Integration

    Many businesses connect their Salesforce with other applications or solutions at the data and process level. We can divide the types of Salesforce Integration into five categories:

    types of Salesforce integrations

    1. Real-Time Integration

    Real-time Integration involves immediate replication of data between Salesforce and another system. This type of integration is highly effective for aligning sales and marketing activities and allows quick error handling and queue management. Real-time integration is particularly suitable for scenarios where data synchronization happens in real-time.

    2. Batch Integration

    Batch Integration is widespread in the areas where large amounts of data require import or export in Salesforce. It is one of the efficient methods for integrating data between two systems. Batch integration is ideal for handling data in bulk. For instance, you can obtain customer information from your CRM system and update it in Salesforce regularly.

    3. Real-Time Mashups

    Real-time mashups are about storing big files across different applications and making them accessible in Salesforce as & when required. These integrations are preferred while creating customized user interfaces in Visualforce. They are well-suited for quick interactions and small data amounts. This adds value in leveling up user experiences and increases accessibility for the team.

    4. Salesforce AppExchange

    Salesforce AppExchange is a marketplace where various applications, solutions, and consultants are available for integration with Salesforce. It offers multiple pre-built apps to install directly into your Salesforce environment. AppExchange provides a convenient, time-saving solution for integrating additional functionality and features into your Salesforce instance.

    5. User Interface Integration

    Integrating the user interface (UI) with Salesforce allows users to access multiple applications seamlessly from a single platform. This integration eliminates the need for repetitive sign-ins and enhances user convenience. For example, you can integrate the UI of email marketing tools with Salesforce, enabling centralized control of email marketing campaigns without switching between different tabs or platforms.

    Before implementing Salesforce integration, it is essential to consider the appropriate architecture and choose the integration type that best suits your business needs.

    Salesforce Integration Market Size

    According to Grand View Research, the CRM market achieved a substantial size of $58.82 billion in 2022, with a projected impressive CAGR of 13.9% from 2023 to 2030. Salesforce integration solutions represent approximately one-third of the global CRM user base.

    What benefits do businesses stand to gain by adopting Salesforce?

    • Identifying new revenue streams (45% of respondents)
    • Defining a single source of truth to speed up decision-making through customer data (60% of respondents)
    • Integrating Salesforce with industry-specific systems upstream and downstream more quickly and easily (55% of respondents).

    Check here the benefits of integrating Salesforce CRM into small businesses.

    Before integrating Salesforce with other systems or applications, you must select the right architecture for your needs.

    Here are some common types of integration patterns in Salesforce CRM:

    Salesforce Integration Patterns Choose the Right Architecture
    1. App-based integration – With this pattern, you can connect different apps to address different requirements like marketing, accounting, automation, etc. You can use low-code or no-code solutions, such as ChargeOn, to integrate payment gateways with your Salesforce CRM. This is ideal for solopreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses.
    2. Code-based integration – In this pattern, you are required to write custom code and then host it for Salesforce API integration. It is a complex method that helps perform sophisticated and challenging integrations for your business.
    3. Data integration – This pattern uses SOAP and REST APIs to synchronize data between Salesforce and other applications. You don’t have to do any coding in Salesforce, which makes it the easiest way to integrate data with Salesforce CRM. You can use this pattern to send customer data from other apps to Salesforce for recordkeeping or export Salesforce data to a BI tool for analysis.
    4. Business process integration – You can leverage this integration pattern to automate business processes spanning internal and external systems or applications. Also, it allows you to establish connections with customers, partners, and suppliers through Salesforce CRM. For instance, integrate email marketing tools like iContact with Salesforce to streamline campaign management and consolidate data for reporting purposes.
    5. User interface integration – You can easily access multiple applications from one platform by integrating their user interfaces with Salesforce CRM through this pattern. You can use this pattern to avoid logging in repeatedly to different apps by integrating their UIs with Salesforce. This pattern will allow you to control email marketing campaigns from a single dashboard instead of switching tabs.

    Read here about the top Salesforce CRM trends in 2023.

    Benefits of Integrating Third-Party Apps with Salesforce

    Be it Salesforce or any other CRM; organizations can expand the derivatives of success through Salesforce Integration of solutions, tools, or apps based on the industry’s requirements.

    Some common benefits of Salesforce Integration give the business an added advantage in the form of better business performance:

    1. Improved Functionality

    Integrating third-party apps gives you the power to strengthen the functionality of Salesforce beyond its offered features. These third-party apps provide additional features, customization options, and services not readily available in Salesforce, allowing you to customize the platform to your business needs.

    2. Accuracy and Consistency in Data

    When you work on Salesforce, you can access data from all the important sources, like HR, Sales, ERP, Accounting, and native systems. This allows your team to get real-time data synchronization and minimizes the need for manual data entry. By integrating third-party apps with Salesforce, you will always know that there is data consistency across systems, increasing accuracy and minimizing errors.

    3. Optimized and Automated Processes

    With Salesforce Integration, every business expects seamless data transmission across different departments and automated synchronization, which not only improves cross-department processes and productivity among people in it.

    4. Scalability and Flexibility

    With the growth and expansion of your business, the needs keep changing constantly. You can incorporate new solutions or shift to one that brings flexibility without significant disruption.

    This flexibility allows you to adapt your Salesforce to evolving business requirements, ensuring access to the ideal tools and services.

    5. 360 Degree Customers View

    Integrating systems with Salesforce consolidates customer information from various sources into a centralized repository. This unified view empowers personalized interactions, targeted marketing campaigns, and enhanced customer service, fostering a comprehensive understanding and delivering exceptional experiences.

    6. Better Customer Experience

    Third-party app integrations can improve the customer experience by providing access to additional customer data, insights, and tools. You can integrate customer support systems, marketing automation platforms, or e-commerce solutions, enabling a holistic view of customer interactions. This comprehensive view lets you personalize interactions, provide timely and relevant information, and deliver a better customer experience.

    7. Cost Savings

    Integrating third-party apps can often be a cost-effective alternative to developing custom solutions from scratch. Third-party apps are typically built to be plug-and-play, which reduces development time and costs. Instead of investing in building and maintaining complex functionalities, you can leverage pre-existing, already tested, and optimized solutions.

    Read here about the top 10 Salesforce Integrations for your business.

    Step-by-Step Guide to Salesforce Integration

    Step 1- Start with CRM Data Model

    Begin by establishing a comprehensive data model that defines how the information will flow within your Salesforce system. This includes determining the logical entities, such as accounts, contacts, products, and cases, as well as their relationships and interactions, aligning with your business operations.

    Step 2- Build a CRM Prototype

    Develop a conceptual prototype of your CRM solution to visualize and present the proposed system to decision-makers. This prototype showcases the step-by-step processes involved in your business operations and how Salesforce will support and streamline those processes. It serves as a platform for feedback and refinement.

    Step 3- Import Your Data

    Clean up your existing data to ensure it aligns with the Salesforce design. Map your objects, fields, and records to match the corresponding structure in Salesforce. Once prepared, import the data into Salesforce. You might have to create a custom field to accommodate any data that Salesforce does not fetch.

    Step 4- Time to Integrate

    Now is the time to start with the integration of your CRM with other cloud platforms, ERP solutions, SaaS applications, or local systems of your choice. Establish robust API integrations, cross-platform authentication, and seamless connectivity with legacy systems.

    Step 5- Customize the CRM Solution

    Next, you can customize Salesforce as per your business-specific processes and requirements. Customize the platform by adding custom fields, defining layouts, and configuring settings to align with your unique needs. This ensures that Salesforce becomes a solution that enhances and supports your specific workflows.

    Step 6- Test & Launch

    With the initial configuration in place, thoroughly test your Salesforce CRM to ensure it functions according to your requirements. Engage a dedicated quality assurance team to validate the integrations, functionality, and user experience.

    Next, you can choose a quiet launch and observe user adoption, making incremental adjustments as needed. Alternatively, generate excitement and awareness about the new platform, providing clear support materials and information to assist users during the transition.

    Step 7- Post-launch Support

    Post-launch, focus on fostering user adoption and addressing any teething problems. You can take help from your integration partner, assign an account manager for ongoing support, and participate in meetups, conferences, and events that provide valuable information and networking opportunities.

    Critical Challenges in Salesforce Integration with Third-Party Apps

    Salesforce integration can be a game-changer for your business but it also comes with challenges. Here are some of the common hurdles that you might face while integrating Salesforce with other systems or applications:

    1. The API Overload Challenge

    Integrating SOAP or REST API applications require efficient coding to ensure smooth operations. The daunting job is to find creative ways to optimize the API codes, avoiding excessive API calls that can negatively impact performance and Salesforce limits. We know you can’t batch-process records instead of making individual calls to enhance code efficiency.

    2. Bulk Coding & App Installation

    Can you creatively handle the constant updates and distribution of updates to ensure smooth integration while keeping an eye on software and infrastructure changes? Extensive coding and multiple application installations are necessary to achieve successful Salesforce integration. However, this challenge lies in managing the coding complexity and coordinating the installation process.

    3. Doubtful Data Migration Process

    Data migration is a pivotal aspect of Salesforce integration, and precision is crucial. Your challenge is creatively navigating data migration’s complexities, such as varying data storage across Salesforce editions and potential duplication. Have you ever considered optimizing Salesforce’s exceptional features, like Duplicate Management, or developing custom code to ensure a seamless migration? Remember, the external ID holds the key.

    4. Cost Conundrums

    Managing stakeholders’ expectations, making smart decisions, and creating a detailed timeline with milestones to ensure cost control throughout the integration process. Accessing amazing third-party tools, staying within the budget, and ensuring effective data sync is not easy. Every Salesforce Integration project requires proper planning and accurate estimation & management of cost for its success. It’s crucial to calculate costs and manage your planned budget to get more results from integration.

    5. The Forever Data Dilemma

    Data validation and quality issues often arise in Salesforce integration, requiring a robust data management strategy. Your challenge is quickly developing a clear data management strategy that effectively handles these issues. To overcome the data quality and validation challenges in Salesforce integration by developing a clear data management strategy.

    6. Struggle in getting the Right Salesforce Integration Partner

    Finding the right Salesforce integration partner is essential for a successful integration journey. The market has hundreds of Salesforce service providers offering various Salesforce-related services. Getting the one who provides a comprehensive solution for all your pre & post-Salesforce Integration needs is challenging. Your task is creatively selecting and working with skilled professionals who understand your business goals and can integrate Salesforce with external systems smoothly.

    To deal with or overcome these challenges, industry experts have followed some best practices to reduce the probability of setbacks and successfully integrate third-party apps with Salesforce.

    Best Practices for Successful Salesforce Third-Party Integration

    Businesses choose to integrate third-party solutions with their Salesforce ecosystem to enhance capabilities and enrich the user experience for end-users.

    To overcome potential challenges and ensure seamless integration, here are key best practices to follow when integrating with Salesforce:

    1. A clear understanding of Business strategy along with a roadmap

    Before entering the integration process, it’s extremely important to discover all the possible aspects of the projects. Start with mapping business goals and what outcomes you are expecting. You should use interviews and surveys to collect feedback from various stakeholders and understand their success criteria.

    You should also determine how the project fits into the organization’s overall business and technology strategy and roadmap. This will influence the scope and deliverables of the project.

    The ideal suggestion is to conduct a gap analysis to differentiate between the current and future state of the processes and system. This simplifies the priorities and requirements of the integration project.

    2. Proceed with the suitable integration pattern and approach

    Salesforce integration projects encompass three patterns, each requiring thoughtful consideration during the project’s planning stage. Multiple patterns may be employed based on business needs and use cases, impacting the choice of integration platform and tools.

    3. Data Integration

    This category centers on seamless data exchange between external systems and Salesforce, emphasizing the importance of aligning with the organization’s data strategy. This entails integrating master data management and governance practices to ensure data harmonization and consistency.

    4. Process Integration

    This pattern entails interactions between Salesforce and an external system to accomplish tasks. Determining the triggering events, exception handling mechanisms, and managing the system’s process state are vital considerations.

    5. Virtual Integration

    This approach facilitates access to real-time data from several integrated systems without tampering with the local data storage. Meticulous planning is essential to ensure secure and efficient data access at this integration level.

    6. Collaborate with Stakeholders, Outline Business Scenarios. Get it Implemented

    Another important thing is to collaborate and keep all the relevant stakeholders in the loop throughout the project. You can follow these practical steps:

    • Communicate all the information to stakeholders in the planning phase and make them aware of the project purpose, problem statement and solution.
    • Illustrate the proposed solution, depicting the systems involved and necessary modifications.
    • Perform a comprehensive impact analysis and devise a risk management strategy.
    • Share the findings, obtain stakeholder approval, and secure the necessary budget.
    • Communicate the project plan, timelines, and governance framework to ensure transparency.
    • Engage stakeholders in User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and provide training opportunities for seamless adoption.

    Another thing you can do is identify and include the following:

    • All the use case scenarios.
    • Business needs.
    • Processes of all the impacted departments.

    You can use UML diagrams to outline the systems and their interactions and identify and address any gaps or risks early.

    Lastly, building a well-balanced project team with the right skills, attitude, and cultural fit is important. Define the roles and responsibilities of your team members by using the RASCI matrix. You can also leverage the expertise of a Salesforce Integration partner to support the project.

    7. Integration Excellence: Uphold Data Integrity and Security

    Achieving seamless Salesforce integration requires a steadfast commitment to data integrity and security. To ensure data integrity, establish robust backup plans and implement error-handling mechanisms. Conduct regular audits to uphold the accuracy and reliability of your data.

    Simultaneously, ensure data security by choosing third-party applications that meet rigorous security standards and comply with pertinent data protection regulations. Safeguarding your business information is crucial for a successful integration journey.

    Real-World Examples of Salesforce Third-Party Integrations

    Many applications can enhance your Salesforce ecosystem’s efficiency for customers and your team.

    Explore native integrations on Salesforce AppExchange or develop custom integrations with the help of your team or a Salesforce Integration Partner. Alternatively, leverage third-party integrations through APIs or web services, or utilize integration platforms with specialized tools for streamlined integration.

    Popular applications that integrate with Salesforce include:

    QuickBooks

    QuickBooks is a popular name in accounting that helps you manage all your taxes, invoices, finances, and payroll. You can integrate QuickBooks with Salesforce to sync your customer data, invoices, payments, expenses, and reports between the two systems.

    Twilio

    Twilio is a popular name incorporated as a customer engagement platform. It helps teams in delivering industry-grade digital experiences to customers. This cloud-based platform offers different features like SMS, Voice, WhatsApp, Email, Video Calls, and more. These offerings help your customer support team establish uninterrupted and seamless communication channels with your customers.

    Stripe

    Stripe is a payment gateway that allows businesses to securely accept payments via online mode. By integrating Stripe with Salesforce, businesses can optimize sales and payment procedures, simplifying customer transactions and enhancing revenue tracking capabilities.

    DocuSign

    DocuSign allows users to create and send electronic signatures from Salesforce and track the status of their contracts or agreements. By integrating Salesforce with DocuSign, businesses can speed up their sales cycle, reduce errors and costs, improve compliance and security, and enhance customer satisfaction.

    These are just some examples of Salesforce third-party integration. There are many more applications that you can integrate with Salesforce to enhance your business performance and customer experience.

    How to Choose the Right Salesforce Third-Party Integration Partner

    Integrating all the apps or tools with Salesforce can be a challenging task for your team. That’s why you should consider utilizing expert Salesforce integration services from a certified partner. Let’s look at some key tips to help you select the right Salesforce integration partner for your project:

    1. A Thorough Research for Making Informed Choices

    While selecting a Salesforce Integration Partner, avoid taking a quick call, however urgent. Make sure to conduct a comprehensive background check for each shortlisted option. Take a deep understanding of their services, and delve into their completed projects to learn more about their approach to Salesforce Integration projects.

    It is crucial to establish familiarity and trust with your integration partner, as it facilitates a smoother journey toward achieving your end goals.

    2. Prioritize Industry Experience

    Considering the importance of industry experience while choosing the right Salesforce Integration Partner. Pick the one offering substantial value to your project with their experience, as they can bring success better than anyone with their recommendation and expertise.

    An experienced integration partner like us will assist you in charting out effective plans and strategies, ensuring alignment with your objectives.

    3. Don’t solely rely on cost when making decisions.

    While the cost of working with a Salesforce integration partner is important, particularly for small businesses or startups, try not to make it the epicenter of your decision. Instead, focus on the outcomes you’ll be receiving for your investment.

    If slightly higher cost converts into the best services, it is advisable to prioritize quality over cost savings. High-quality services facilitate smooth Salesforce Integration, driving traction & revenue growth. Ultimately, this boosts your return on investment (ROI) rather than leading to stagnation or losses due to compromising service quality.

    4. Prefer Certified Professionals: Uncompromised Expertise

    Working with Salesforce integration partners with certified professionals on their teams is advantageous. Salesforce certification signifies the official validation of their expertise by Salesforce itself. In addition to considering other factors, prioritize partners with certified professionals, ensuring competence and project security.

    Certified professionals are more likely to deliver exceptional services, leveraging their expertise to yield the desired results for your integration project.

    5. Explore Multiple Options for Comprehensive Evaluation

    Regardless of their claims, do not hastily choose the first Salesforce integration partner. Take the opportunity to assess multiple service providers, narrow down the top contenders, and select the partner that best fits your needs.

    Thoroughly assessing your choices enables you to make a well-informed decision and discover the perfect partner to embark on your Salesforce integration journey.

    Future Scope: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve with Salesforce Integration with Third-Party Apps

    Staying ahead of the curve in Salesforce third-party integration requires understanding emerging trends. Organizations can proactively adapt their integration strategies by recognizing these trends to leverage new opportunities. Here are some future trends to watch for in Salesforce third-party integration:

    1. Lightning Experience

    Don’t skip checking out the amazing features and upgrades Lightning Experience can offer. This modern and user-friendly version of Salesforce lets you customize your dashboard, enhance your calendar, use Einstein AI, chat with Snap-in, and more. Migrate from Classic to Lightning today and stay ahead of the curve in efficiency and effectiveness.

    2. Sales Cloud 360

    Boost your remote sales productivity with Sales Cloud 360, a suite of tools and services that support digital selling. With Sales Cloud 360, you can sell from anywhere in the world with Salesforce Anywhere, host engaging and interactive online meetings with Salesforce Meetings, and plan safe and optimized routes for field sales with Salesforce Maps Field Safety Kit.

    3. AI and Data-Driven Intelligence

    Make smarter decisions and optimize your sales performance with AI and data-driven intelligence from Salesforce. For example, you can use Einstein Discovery to analyze data and get actionable insights and predictions. You can also use Account Discovery to get AI-driven health and upside scores for accounts.

    4. Blockchain Integration

    Blockchain is a technology that empowers businesses to record transactions securely. You can create blockchain networks, workflows, and apps with clicks or code with Salesforce Blockchain. You can also integrate blockchain data with your Salesforce data and processes and share verified data with partners and customers.

    Based on a recent study on Salesforce Integration, users have expressed the following expectations:

    • Approximately 45 percent believe Salesforce can help uncover new revenue streams and attract potential customers.
    • Over 60 percent of users anticipate Salesforce to provide an efficient customer data source for informed decision-making.
    • More than 50 percent of customers expect Salesforce Integration to improve upstream and downstream industry-specific systems.

    These are future trends you need to watch out for in Salesforce integration with third-party apps. Stay tuned for more updates and tips on how to get the most out of your Salesforce experience.

    Conclusion

    Looking forward to the coming innovations and increasing demand of Salesforce, you only stand to experience the best things. Being the World’s No. 1 CRM, Salesforce is growing to be the platform compatible with many third-party applications, tools, or solutions. This means the more, the merrier.

    You can keep integrating the tools you feel derive more productivity in your people and strengthen the capabilities of your Salesforce ecosystem. And with a Salesforce Crest Partner like Cyntexa by your side, why would you need help from someone else?

    Get your favorite tools integrated with your Salesforce with industry experts.

    Schedule a consultation call today.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Salesforce third-party integration involves establishing connections between external applications or systems and Salesforce, facilitating seamless data exchange and improved functionality.

    Businesses can harness the strengths of external applications while leveraging the power of Salesforce, resulting in increased productivity, accurate data management, and enhanced overall business efficiency.

    Integrating third-party applications with Salesforce brings benefits such as streamlined processes, enhanced automation, improved data visibility, better customer insights, and access to specialized features from external applications.

    Challenges may include data mapping and transformation complexities, API limitations, synchronization issues, security considerations, and ensuring a seamless user experience across integrated systems.

    Popular examples of third-party applications that integrate with Salesforce include Twilio, HubSpot, Mailchimp, Zendesk, DocuSign, and others, catering to various areas like marketing, customer support, document management, and collaboration.

    Risks to be aware of include potential data inconsistencies, system incompatibilities, integration failures, data security breaches, and the possibility of disruptions to business operations if not properly managed.

    The setup process for a Salesforce third-party integration varies based on the application or system being integrated. Generally, it involves installing a relevant app or connector and configuring settings in both systems.

    digital experiences