The ultimate guide on Salesforce CRM integration: Methods & benefits

The ultimate guide on Salesforce CRM integration: Methods & benefits

In today’s digital ecosystem, to deliver consistent experiences, businesses need to implement technology and data together. However, they face challenges in data gathering, deriving actionable insights, and employing those to deliver better customer experiences. The only solution is to build a unified data system that collects data across all organizational departments data to streamline operations across departments. If you’re leveraging Salesforce CRM along with other tools like ERPs, PIMs, etc., ensuring proper integration between all internal and external systems is imperative. A seamless Salesforce CRM integration is how you gain a unified view of your customers and operations.

In this blog, we will understand the Salesforce integration challenges, benefits of Salesforce integration, types of Salesforce integration, Salesforce integration strategies and patterns, and how seamless integration helps make data-driven decisions faster.

What is Salesforce CRM integration and why is it important?

Salesforce CRM integration unifies all your internal and external tools and streamlines data flow between multiple applications. Integrating all tools with Salesforce CRM empowers decision-makers with a holistic view of marketing, sales, commerce, and customer service operations.

As a modern business, it is highly unlikely to employ only one tool to suffice all your evolving business requirements. MuleSoft suggests that organizations employ over 900 apps across the cloud, on-premise, and legacy systems. All these applications must be connected with your Salesforce CRM to facilitate data flow, prevent data redundancy, and provide a unified view of operations across all internal and external tools.

Importance of Salesforce CRM integration: 

  • With proper data management and integration, businesses gain a unified view of their customers which empowers your organization to make data-driven decisions faster and serve customers in a personalized manner. 
  • Salesforce CRM integration opens up new opportunities for businesses to assemble and study disparate data together to improve decision-making, minimize risks, and unearth valuable insights. 
  • Implementing the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence via Salesforce Einstein, it becomes easy to analyze and process data, to optimize strategies based on statistical finds and not estimates. 

Why seamless integration between systems is the need of the hour?

Enterprises employ hundreds of applications that only increase with time. Every department uses multiple software and systems, all of which host data specific to their operations. However, it might be possible that data that exists in one department might be useful for another department. In such scenarios, siloed environments hinder deriving real insights from data sources that further disrupts customer experiences. Therefore, it becomes imperative that businesses integrate apps and data across departments and environments to drive innovation at scale, gain competitive advantage, and achieve digital transformation.

#1. Increased demand of customers pressuring businesses to deliver digital faster

Employees and customers want seamless digital experiences and expect organizations to deliver these experiences faster. With the rapid shift to remote working and the need for increased productivity and efficiency, migrating apps to the cloud, and automating business processes, are now key focuses of organizations.

#2. Need for connected customer experience

With high customer expectations, intense competition, and dynamic customer interactions across departments and channels, enterprises are now more focused on improving their overall customer experiences. But organizations find it challenging to integrate end-user experiences across all channels. Integrated systems help improve customer engagement, business transformation, and innovation to deliver connected experiences. 

#3. Data silos set back digital transformation

With lack of integration between systems or applications, enterprises usually build data silos unknowingly that further impacts an organization’s efficiency and results in lack of proper collaboration between departments. The need for extensive data insights and analytics is why businesses must focus on integrating systems.

Types of Salesforce integrations

Before implementing Salesforce integration, you must decide on the architecture: 

#1. App-based integration: Application integration enables individual apps, each designed for specific purposes, to integrate with one another. The integration can be done either with low-code or no-code solutions. Salesforce CRM app-based integration can be implemented with the help of MuleSoft Composer and is ideal for SMEs and solopreneurs. 

#2. Code-based integration involves writing code manually and hosting the code for Salesforce API integration. It is a complicated method and allows intricate and difficult integrations for your business. 

#3. Salesforce data integration: Salesforce data integration utilizes SOAP and REST APIs which handle data synchronization requirements. It does not require any coding in Salesforce and is the easiest way to integrate the platform with another application. The app can send customer data into the Salesforce database for recordkeeping or export Salesforce data into a BI tool. 

#4. Business process integration: Salesforce allows enterprises to integrate systems or applications not just internally but with external systems as well and connect with customers, partners and suppliers by automating business processes.  For example, connecting email marketing tools like Marketo to the Salesforce database or automatically aggregating data for reporting purposes. 

 #5. User interface integration: Integrating UI with Salesforce will allow users direct entry into multiple applications from a single platform. This prevents the need for repetitive sign-ins by integrating the UI of both platforms. This integration will enable you to control email marketing campaigns from a single dashboard rather than switching tabs.

The different Salesforce integration patterns

Every integration is unique, but standard requirements and issues should be addressed. Most business owners choose from two main options for integration patterns: 

#1. Direct integration: Direct integration is either a direct API or database integration between Salesforce and other platforms. It is a simplified approach that may seem limited in flexibility but will satisfy your business needs. Most often, it’s a single integration, like sending data entered into a form to a Salesforce database. 

#2. Server-based integration: Server-based integrations require manual coding and can be more beneficial for complicated integrations like merging business processes and UI of different apps. It is a flexible solution that reduces the effects of system updates on the integration and gives you more control over data flows. Server-based integration involves solutions delivered according to a hub-and-spoke and an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) model and hosted in the cloud and on-premises systems. Server-based integration fits small businesses as well as large enterprises as well. Salesforce follows the following patterns for server-based integrations:

7 Salesforce CRM Integration
  1. Request and responses: Salesforce invokes a process on a remote system, waits for the completion of that response, and then tracks the response. 
  2. Fire and Forget: Salesforce invokes a process in a remote system but does not wait for the completion of the process. Instead, the remote process receives and acknowledges the request and then hands off control. A business can do the same in the following ways: 

    - Process-driven platform events
    - Customization-driven platform events
    - Workflow-driven outbound message
    - Apex based callouts

  3. Batch data synchronization: This is the most widely used integration process where data is sent in batches and synchronized to reflect updates from external systems. For example, you can quickly extract customer activity databases from Salesforce and import them into an on-premise warehouse. 
  4. UI update based on data changes: The Salesforce UI needs to be updated as per orders or case management changes. For example, a customer initiates a payment. The customer service rep needs a real-time update in Salesforce from the payment processing application indicating that the customer has successfully paid the outstanding order amount. 
  5. Data virtualization: Salesforce will access the data from external systems where it is stored in real-time. It reduces the need to persist data in Salesforce and reconcile data from external systems. 

APIs and data integration methods in Salesforce

The solution to integration challenges is API which allows two applications to connect and share data. Companies should choose CRM API integration as:

  • It increases your IT team's productivity and powers digital transformation. As APIs are produced and designed for their ease of use, it results in seamless data integration. 
  • APIs are easy-to-manage to enhance security, scalability, and performance.
  • It is discoverable and accessible through self-service. 

Data integration methods in Salesforce: 

ERP, CRM, supply chain management tools, email marketing solutions, and social media applications seamlessly integrate with the Salesforce platform. However, you need the right tools, best practices, and integration  strategies to achieve a bi-directional sync. There are many ways by which you can import or export data from third-party systems to Salesforce. Let’s discuss a few of them: 

#1. Data Loading: The data loading integration method pushes data within and from Salesforce. The application can also move customer data from one system to another, upload new data in bulk, export records to backup, or move them to another. There are two tools for data loading: 

  • Data import wizard: It is a built-in data migration tool in Salesforce and can be used for up to 50,000 records. The data import wizard supports many Salesforce platforms as well as other platforms. It is a great tool for simple data load and import but not for complex data load operations. 
  • Data loader: Salesforce data loader can be used for large data loads to import, export, edit, and delete 50,000 to 50,000,000 records. It imports various data objects, including custom ones, and schedules regular data loads. 

#2. Salesforce Connector: A powerful integration method allows Salesforce applications to connect seamlessly and handle data stored in external sources. Salesforce Connector eliminates the need to switch tabs. You can use it when your business needs to display, search, and modify data stored in external systems and don’t want to duplicate data storage in Salesforce. 

#3. Outbound from Salesforce: Outbound message in Salesforce is a method of integration that sends the data to an endpoint (external service) in the form of XML (Extensible Markup Language). It is used to send object field data to third-party applications to perform specific tasks as per requirement. You can even consume SOAP APIs to perform the integration. 

#4. Inbound into Salesforce: Salesforce provides REST and SOAP APIs endpoints that external systems can use to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations on data storing in Salesforce. Inbound integration is synchronous and requires more communication. 

#5. Publish-subscribe messaging-based: This pattern of Salesforce allows subscribers to be notified of publishing content. An asynchronous pattern allows the subscriber to pick up the message later, eliminating the chances of getting messages lost while implementing integration. 

#6. Third-party Salesforce CRM integration tools: MuleSoft is a third-party tool offering various connectors and accelerators to integrate applications and systems. MuleSoft Anypoint integration platform allows the seamless integration of applications, systems, and tools without codebase changes, making system-to-system integration easy, effortless, and cost-effective.

Implement Salesforce integration with a trusted partner 

Salesforce integrations are a great way to connect your applications and systems, enforce automation, drive productivity, and deliver connected experiences to customers. As a trusted Salesforce partner, our team of certified experts can provide you guidance on implementing and managing integrations to maximize the overall ROI of your investments. 

Reap the most benefits of your Salesforce CRM with us



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