Don’t be discouraged by the codes and jargon, Salesforce API integration options can bring real benefits to your sales operation. Let’s find out more.

1 – APIs move data between two different apps.

2 – Salesforce APIs link your Salesforce CRM to other apps in your organisation.

3 – API integration is different from Salesforce AppExchange solutions

4 – You can use APIs to connect your Salesforce to a multitude of different solutions, including eCommerce and accounting software.

5 – Salesforce API integration saves time by reducing the need for data entry.

6 – API integration in Salesforce minimises the impact of human error.

7 – APIs help sales teams build information on their customers.

8 – Salesforce API integration helps sales teams function within the wider organisation.

9 – Salesforce places limits on the number of API calls you can make in 24-hour periods.

10 – You must always use a professional Salesforce developer to set up your API integration.

It may initially look baffling and technical, but it’s actually quite simple. You can take advantage of Salesforce’s open attitude towards their ecosystem by connecting different app solutions to one of Salesforce’s many APIs. This creates opportunities to make life more convenient for your sales team, whether it’s generating leads, recording sales or just reducing the time it takes to input data. This is especially relevant in SaaS, where you have an app that collects data on its users, or you use multiple external apps in your business.

In this article, we’re going to try to explain, in plain English, what Salesforce APIs are, as well as how you can use them to improve your sales operation. Let’s dive in.

What is an API?

Before we talk exclusively about Salesforce, let’s briefly look at what an API actually is.

If you already know what an API is, feel free to move on to the next section. An Application Programming Interface, or API, is a pre-written piece of code that developers can use to perform a function on their website or app. For example, Yahoo publishes a Weather API so you can display local weather news on your site, if you wanted to.

APIs can also be used to connect different services, allowing them to communicate with each other. Booking sites such as Skyscanner use APIs to collate the flight schedules and prices from every individual airline, then present them to you in one, easy-to-navigate place.

How do APIs work on Salesforce?

There are many different Salesforce APIs, as we’ll see in a moment. However, they all work under one core principle, to send data from another app to Salesforce, while retrieving data from Salesforce and moving it into the other app.

The other app could be your own product, or a different solution that you use in your business.

There are at least 11 different APIs available through Salesforce. Here are the 3 most popular ones, with the functions they perform.

  • REST API – allows you to send and receive information. It is lightweight, so it’s handy for mobile apps.
  • SOAP API – Performs the same functions as REST, but better for server-to-server integration.
  • BULK API – High capacity API, capable of moving lots of data at the same time.

REST is the most well-used Salesforce API and the one we will mainly talk about in this article. Here’s what you can achieve if you use REST to integrate Salesforce with a different application:

  • You can immediately transport stored customer data (contacts, tasks etc. stored in your app) from different apps to your Salesforce CRM.
  • Once the API is set up, it will automatically push customer data to Salesforce.
  • You can use data from Salesforce in your app.

It’s a simple process that your Salesforce admins should know how to do:

  • Set up a developer account
  • Connect your app to Salesforce
  • Transfer the data

Finally in this section, it’s important to know the difference between API integration and the apps you can find in the Salesforce AppExchange. AppExchange products can be API-based, but with front-end user experience built-in. They can then work directly inside the Salesforce CRM platform.

API integration is a lot less complicated, cheaper and easier to set up, with benefits that are unique to your organisation rather than ‘off the shelf’.

When could you use a Salesforce API?

Now you know what Salesforce APIs are, when might you use them? It may make your sales operation run more smoothly if you can easily push and pull data between Salesforce and:

  • Your accounts software (e.g. Sage)
  • Your e-commerce solution (e.g. Magento, Shopify, Amazon)
  • Your email marketing software (e.g. MailChimp)
  • Your shipping and delivery provider (e.g. FedEx)
  • Any other app you use to run your business, perhaps one specific to your industry.
  • Your own SaaS product

If you find yourself having to swap between screens, or manually entering Salesforce data into a different app (or vice versa), you could benefit from using a Salesforce API integration.

Benefits of API integration

Because there are so many different Salesforce APIs, which give you the opportunity to perform a wide range of functions, the benefits you receive depend on what you do with them. However, there are so many benefits out there, waiting for you to take advantage.

As mentioned above, the main benefit is that it takes away having to manually enter the same data into 2 different apps. The API pushes and pulls the information between Salesforce and your desired destination. Data entry is time-consuming and repetitive. If your reps are spending valuable time typing in data when they should be helping your customers, anything you can do to give them that time back is helpful.

Another benefit of reducing the human part of data entry is that it minimises errors. When sales reps are rushing to type in data because they are busy, that’s when mistakes happen. Mistakes in data entry can be costly, especially if they make you think you’re in a different place against target to where you actually are. With Salesforce APIs, humans only need to enter the data in once; then the machine does the rest.

Timing is everything

When you are in sales, the more you know about your customer, the easier it is to serve them. Salesforce APIs help make sure sales reps have as much information to hand as possible. For example, if you have an API set up to transfer data from your email marketing provider into Salesforce, a rep can see the last time a potential customer opened an email from your organisation. It helps them make contact with the customer at a time when they could be looking to buy. This kind of information can be invaluable in sales.

Finally, APIs can help include sales teams in processes that originate outside of the business. For example, if someone in your organisation’s finance team has used their accounts app to put a customer’s account on hold because of non-payment, the API will let the sales team see this information easily. It will show up on the customer’s record in Salesforce. The sales team can then nudge the customer towards settling their invoice, if necessary.

All of these benefits help sales teams run more smoothly. They also help sales teams function within the wider organisation. A streamlined sales team is more likely to perform better and bring in more revenue, which is, of course, what they are there to do.

Salesforce API tips to remember

If you are thinking about setting up Salesforce API integration in your organisation, here are some tips you can follow to help achieve success:

  • To ensure a smooth-functioning CRM, Salesforce puts limits on the number of API requests you can make within a 24-hour period. Make sure your API integration isn’t placing too heavy a demand on Salesforce.
  • Make sure you use a professional Salesforce developer to set up your API integration. If you don’t have one in your organization, there are many companies that can set it up for you.
  • When setting up your Salesforce API integration, make sure you take into account any changes to your Salesforce system that you have already made, such as Workflow rules or custom objects. Don’t break anything. Test, test and test again.
  • Make sure the way you hold and transfer data is in line with your country’s data protection regulations.

Try for yourself

We’ve seen how Salesforce API integration works, as well as how it is relatively easy to set up if you know what you are doing. Salesforce APIs can work alongside most of the other apps you use on an everyday basis. They can bring a number of different benefits, the biggest of them, giving time back to your sales reps so they can serve your customers.

Now, you no longer need to be scared of the jargon and acronyms. Try it for yourself and see how simple it can be.