Customer Management Articles

How to Find the Right Salesforce Integration

by Karen McCandless
Published on 14 March 2016

Salesforce integration ecosystem with a picture of a planetFounded in 1999 as a SaaS customer relationship management (CRM) solution, Salesforce has since grown to become a multi-billion dollar company that spans well beyond its original offering. Its core product is Salesforce Sales Cloud, which is primarily a CRM, but it also offers other SaaS solutions, ranging from marketing to customer service to IT management.

The company not only provides its own solutions for various areas within a company's technology landscape it also enables Salesforce integration with other business software. Here we take a look both at Salesforce integration, as well as the cloud company's own app ecosystem.

What is Salesforce?

The company's suite of solutions runs entirely in the cloud, in contrast to other technology titans such as Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle. Salesforce currently has more than 150,000 customers, with household names such as Coca Cola and GE being two major users. It also counts small business such as men's retailer The Chapar and cat flap makers SureFlap as customers.

Today Salesforce's products are commonly associated with the enterprise market, the company started off with a focus on small to medium sized businesses. But through acquisitions and product development, the cloud company switched focus to enterprises. The same process has been applied to Salesforce Sales Cloud, which started life as a CRM, but has been developed over the year to be a one-stop-shop for sales teams. So what is Salesforce exactly and what can it do for your company?

Salesforce Sales Cloud now includes sales force automation functionality, and social networking features, in addition to CRM functionality. Feature rich, it boasts lead management functionality that helps you identify your most important leads by assigning them scores, as well as forecasting and reporting tools, a built-in social network, email integration, and mobile apps for Android and iOS. In our ranking of the top 25 sales management apps for small businesses, it comes in third, while it takes sixth spot in the CRM category.

GetRank sales management infographicSalesforce offers a variety of price points, with its entry plan for up to five users at the bottom end of the scale costing $25 a month, compared to its $125 a month plan for enterprises.

From our user reviews, we've gleaned that the app is:

  • Extremely customizable
  • Very robust
  • Can handle a lot of data
  • Produces detailed reports
  • Synchronizes well between devices
  • Offers lots of add ons.

But, it can also be:

  • Tricky to navigate
  • Overwhelming - especially for startups and small businesses
  • Dated user interface
  • Unintuitive
  • Expensive
  • Buggy when updates are released.

Many of our reviewers also recommend using an implementation team to help get your business up and running, something that isn't always an option for smaller businesses.

Delving into the Salesforce ecosystem

Through acquisitions and product developments, Salesforce has built up an impressive portfolio of apps within its own ecosystem. As well as its CRM solution, it also has apps for marketing (formerly ExactTarget), customer service for enterprises, customer service for small businesses, collaboration (formerly Community Cloud), BI and analytics (formerly Wave Analytics), IT management, and the Internet of Things, as well as a CRM specifically aimed at small businesses (formerly RelateIQ).

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is highly ranked in our GetRank independent rankings for both email marketing and marketing automation, scoring highly for integrations and user reviews. SalesforceIQ is popular among our users, with Ken Loveless, founder and managing director at Founders Circle Capital, saying : " After going through three CRM deployments, we are thrilled to switch to RelateIQ. They have finally solved the friction of data entry in a CRM product, by seamlessly capturing everyday communication."

GetRank email marketing infographicIn order to connect its ecosystem of apps, Salesforce created what it calls its Customer Success Platform, which brings all these products together all of the company's apps in a single offering. The company also offers a public API to allow businesses to easily connect their Salesforce solution to legacy systems such as SAP.

In addition, Salesforce offers products for vertical industries, such as healthcare and financial services.

Profiling integrations with Salesforce

According to GetApp data, Salesforce integrates with 45% of the most popular apps on our site. Some popular choices for integrations with Salesforce include Dropbox, with more than 1,000 of our users saying they use the two products together. Mailchimp is second in line, with around 700 of our users saying they use the app with Salesforce. Marketing is a strong integration category for Salesforce. Salesforce ecosystem breakdown graphic

In addition, around 350 people use project management heavyweight JIRA with Salesforce, 200 people use Quickbooks Online with the CRM, making it the most popular accounting integration, and more than 200 people use it with Zendesk, which is the most popular customer service integration.

What do the users think?

One feature that GetApp reviewers value is Salesforce's business app marketplace, known as AppExchange, citing the extra functionality they can get from these apps that offer integration with Salesforce. Sebastian Pereira, MBA, director of IT, Information Systems and Processes for Santex, says: "Even if you have a limited version such as ours, you can always extend the functionality using other apps."

user review of SalesforceWhile most of the apps in AppExchange fall into the sales category, IT administration, marketing, and customer service are also well represented. Leading apps represented in this marketplace that provide integration with Salesforce include FinancialForce, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and DocuSign.

Salesforce integration with third-party apps outside the Marketplace was something some of our reviewers had problems with. Emilee Anderson, client engagement manager at Trekk, says that: "Integrating Salesforce with any of our other tools was a nightmare. Nothing even synced properly and both their forum and customer support were completely unhelpful."

While one of our reviewers reports that: "syncing to certain third-party software can be buggy."

How well does Salesforce integration compare to other apps?

Salesforce excels in terms of integrations compared to other CRMs, according to our quarterly independent ranking of these apps. It scores a perfect 20 for integrations, higher than any of the other apps on the list. Its closest competitors are Zoho CRM and SugarCRM.

GetRank graphics on integrations in CRMIf we take the CRM category as an example, we can start to see that integration with Salesforce is a key differentiator. Of all the SaaS apps listed on GetApp, 271 feature Salesforce integration. Compare that to Zoho CRM whose integrations total 87, and SugarCRM, which boasts only 64 integrations on GetApp.

Next steps

Salesforce is a force to be reckoned to when it comes to integrations. Whether it be pre-built integrations through its AppExchange Marketplace, integrations with other apps in its ecosystem, the impressive list of third-party integrations, or its public API, it's tough to find an app that doesn't work well with Salesforce. This applies both for if you're considering adding Salesforce to your current technology landscape, or you're investigating which new apps you have your eye on that provide integration with Salesforce.

Some apps have better Salesforce integration than others, as our reviewers will tell you, so it's worth checking out our reviews page for feedback before diving in. If you need more information, then our dedicated integrations and comparisons page are good next steps. Or if you've integrated your business software with Salesforce let us know how it went in the comments below.


Apps mentioned in this article